Study of Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre wins the Society for Theatre Research Theatre Book Prize 2022

The Society for Theatre Research has awarded Stirring up Sheffield: An insider’s account of the battle to build the Crucible Theatre (Wordville) the Society for Theatre Research Theatre Book Prize for 2022.

Written by the Crucible Theatre’s first Artistic Director, Colin George, and his son Tedd, with a foreword by Ian McKellen, Stirring Up Sheffield is the extraordinary story of a group of visionaries who came together to build a revolutionary thrust stage theatre in Sheffield. The radical design they proposed for the auditorium—which redefined the actor/audience relationship—aroused fierce opposition from Sheffield’s conservative quarters and several of the era’s theatrical luminaries. But it also galvanised a new generation of Britain’s actors, directors, designers and playwrights who launched a passionate defence of the thrust stage and its theatrical potential.

Judge Jatinder Verma said:

“Colin and Tedd George recall the remarkable adventure that became the creation of the revolutionary new Sheffield 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.”

In his acceptance speech Tedd George, who edited and completed the material begun by his father Colin, said:

“Few people know nowadays that the Crucible’s thrust stage design aroused concern, confusion even anger and that the theatre was built against huge opposition …. My father struggled for nearly 40 years to write about his experience of this enterprise to build a radical thrust stage in Sheffield. From writing the first manuscript I think he was able to come to terms with his creation and once again feel gratitude for the opportunity Sheffield had given him.”

The prize 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.

The winner was selected from the following shortlist:

•    Eileen Atkins: Will She Do? Act One of a Life on Stage (Virago)

•    Stephen Bourne: Deep Are the Roots: Trailblazers Who Changed Black British Theatre (History Press)

•    David Bratchpiece and Kirstin Innes: Brickwork: A Biography of the Arches(Salamander Street)

•    Colin George and Tedd George: Stirring up Sheffield: An insider’s account of the battle to build the Crucible Theatre (Wordville)

•    Dan Hutton: Towards a Civic Theatre (Salamander Street)

•    David Storey: A Stinging Delight: A Memoir (Faber)

2022 marks the 24th STR Theatre Book Prize, which was established in 1998 to celebrate the Society’s Golden Jubilee. The aim of the Book Prize is to encourage the writing and publication of books on British-related theatre history and practice.

Recent winners include Black British Women’s Theatre by Nicola Abram; Year of the Mad King: The King Lear Diaries by Antony Sher; Different Drummer: The Life of Kenneth Macmillan by Jann Parry; Margot Fonteyn by Meredith Daneman and Balancing Acts by Nick Hytner. Previous members of the judging panel include actors Cleo Sylvestre and Corin Redgrave, producer Thelma Holt, actress-director Yvonne Brewster and critics Michael Billington and Daisy Bowie-Sell.

To find out more about the Society for Theatre Research, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop