Theatre Book Prize: Stirring Up Sheffield - account of Crucible's radical design and creation - wins top award

A book charting the the history of Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre has won a top prize. Stirring Up Sheffield: An insider’s account of the battle to build the Crucible Theatre has won the Theatre Book Prize for its account of the battle to create the venue.

Thursday, 9th June 2022, 12:20 pm

Dr Tedd George, the son of its first artistic director Colin George, co-wrote the book based on the manuscripts of his father who died in 2016.

The award comes from The Society for Theatre Research and was judged by director Jatinder Verma, National Theatre archivist Erin Lee and theatre critic Paul Vale on a panel chaired by STR Committee Member Howard Loxton.

Mr Verma said: “Colin and Tedd George recall the remarkable adventure that became the creation of the revolutionary new Sheffield Crucible Theatre.

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Tedd George with a copy of Stirring Up Sheffield outside the Crucible Theatre

"Their story is replete with the bureaucratic and artistic opposition aroused by the radical design Colin George proposed for the theatre, while revelling in the excitement of giving a new shape to the physical relationship between audiences and artists. How a seemingly unassuming director of a regional theatre led the creation of the visionary stage that is the Sheffield Crucible – leaving an iconic legacy in his wake – is a stirring story for our times.”

The book shines a light on the spectacular quarrel behind the Crucible’s construction and explores how the building’s design upset some of the biggest names in theatre.

It was published as the theatre celebrated its 50th anniversary.

“I’ve always known the Crucible was very controversial,” said Dr George.

Tedd George, the son of Colin George, the first artistic director of the Crucible, inside the venue

“Of course 50 years later it’s become what everybody wanted it to be – a part of the fabric of Sheffield. You can see the influence of it to this day.”

But it was first seen as astronomically “radical”, decried by Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Clements and Sir Bernard Mills, who referred to the stage as “a kind of freak that would be out of date in seven years’ time”.

“On the flip side, there were people who rose up in support of it, among them Alan Ayckbourn.

“In Sheffield it’s something people love,” he said. “And if you ask anybody in theatre, they all know the Crucible.

“It started as an argument about ‘what is theatre,’ it’s ended as exactly what everybody wanted it to be.”