Stirring up Sheffield: An insider’s account of the battle to build the Crucible Theatre (Wordville) has won 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, the book tells the extraordinary story of a group of visionaries who built a revolutionary thrust stage theatre.
The radical design they proposed for the auditorium – which redefined the actor/ audience relationship – aroused fierce opposition from Sheffield’s conservative quarter 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, 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 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. 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.
This year marks the 24th STR Theatre Book Prize, which was established in 1998 to celebrate the Society’s Golden Jubilee, whose trophy's aim is to encourage the writing of books on British-related theatre history and practice.