Sheffield Hallam University is proud to be partnering with Sheffield Theatres to act as home to their archive, which contains records relating to the three principal theatres, plus a host of other historical venues.
Sheffield has a long and proud theatrical history. The city once boasted a huge range of venues located across the city including the Empire Palace Theatre at the junction of Charles Street and Union Street, the Empire Theatre, the Hippodrome Theatre of Varieties on Cambridge Street, the Palace Theatre on Attercliffe Road, the Theatre Royal on Pinfold Lane in Attercliffe, the Theatre Royal on Tudor Street, the Playhouse Theatre on Townhead Street, the Regent Theatre on Barker's Pool, the Surrey Theatre at 66 West Bar, and the Alexandra Music Hall (formerly the Adelphi Theatre) on the junction of Furnival Road and Blonk Street.
Today the Sheffield Theatres Trust administers three main theatres: the Crucible, the Lyceum and the Studio. Collectively, the largest theatre complex in the country, outside of London. Under Artistic Directors, including Colin George, Michael Grandage, Samuel West and Robert Hastie, the Crucible continues to innovate and create and has won the Regional Theatre of the Year award three times. Stars who have graced its stages have included Joanna Lumley, Joseph Fiennes, Kenneth Branagh, Sir Derek Jacobi and Sir Patrick Stewart.
Sheffield Theatres continue the proud artistic tradition and can boast achievements such as staging the first theatrical performance of Brassed off, based on Mark Herman’s film, and premiering the award-winning Everybody’s talking about Jamie, which went on to huge success in London’s West End and was later turned into a movie.
There has been a theatre on the current site since 1879 when the Grand Varieties Theatre was built. Originally housing Stacey’s Circus, the theatre was later managed by the parents of the music hall comedian Dan Leno, who regularly performed there in the early stages of his career. After the theatre burnt down in 1893 it was replaced by the City Theatre, which, in turn, was replaced by the Lyceum. Built in the traditional proscenium arch style, the Lyceum is the only surviving theatre outside London designed by the theatre architect W.G.R. Sprague and the last example of an Edwardian auditorium in Sheffield.
The Crucible Theatre opened in 1971, replacing the small but well regarded Sheffield Playhouse repertory theatre in Townhead Street. Construction started in 1969 and the building took two years to complete, with the opening night gala taking place in November 1971. The theatre was built with a thrust stage, as recommended by its founding artistic director, Colin George. The architects were Renton Howard Wood Levin Architects. The opening night was a three-part programme of 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. The Crucible now also hosts touring productions and the World Snooker Championship.
Alongside the building of the Crucible itself, 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 at the same time as the Crucible.