The main entrance to the Crucible Theatre in 2010
|Address||55 Norfolk Street|
Sheffield, S1 1DA
|Designation||Grade II listed building|
The Crucible Theatre (often referred to simply as "The Crucible") is a theatre in the city centre of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England which opened in 1971, As well as theatrical performances, it is more famous for hosting the most prestigious event in professional Snooker. It has hosted the World Snooker Championship since 1977. The theatre was refurbished between 2007 and late 2009 and officially reopened 18 February 2010.
The Crucible Theatre was built by M J Gleeson and opened in 1971. It replaced the Playhouse Repertory theatre in Townhead Street. In 1967 Colin George, the founding Artistic Director of the Crucible, recommended a thrust stage for Sheffield, inspired by theatres created by Sir Tyrone Guthrie. Tanya Moiseiwitsch, who had been involved in designing Guthrie's theatres, was recruited to design Gleeson's theatre, as well. The architects Renton Howard Wood Levin Architects were employed and the building itself began to take shape in 1969. It was completed in two years, with the opening performance in November 1971. Fanfare, an evening's entertainment showing children acting in an improvised scene, Chekhov's Swan Song with Ian McKellen and Edward Petherbridge and a music hall finale with a Sheffield brass band.
This demonstrated the versatility of the stage, which has since been adapted for dance and musical performances, as well as classical and modern theatre. The Crucible Theatre also hosts touring productions and the World Snooker Championship.
The audience sits on three sides but no member is more than 22 yards (20 meters) from the performer. Consequently, although it seats 980 people the spectator has an intimate relationship with the activity on stage. Colin George and the administrator David Brayshaw persuaded the Gulbenkian Foundation to finance the building of a professional theatre - the 400 seat Studio, which opened with the main house.
The building went through a £15 million refurbishment between 2007 and late 2009 - opening during that period only for the 2008 and 2009 World Snooker Championships.
The Crucible is a producing theatre, meaning shows are designed and rehearsed in-house. These productions are normally overseen by the Sheffield Theatres Group.
The World Snooker Championship tournament has been played annually at the Crucible since 1977, and the venue has been lauded for creating a special feeling of excitement around the event. Sports journalist Peter Mason, in The Guardian, has argued that while the physical aspects of the Crucible are "greatly underwhelming", there is an undeniably special atmosphere inside the auditorium which means that "against all the modernist odds this relentlessly forward-looking theatre appears to have become infused with memories of the past every bit as easily as if it were a creaking old music hall dating back to the 19th century". The Ladies World Snooker Championship was also held at the Crucible between 1998 and 2003 but was eventually withdrawn due to financial difficulties. The venue has also hosted championships of other indoor sports, such as table tennis and squash.