Crucible Theatre

RHWL, Sheffield, 1971


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In the auditorium muted colours are enlived by rows of small, bright house lights 

John Donat (website)     Download Original

  • In the auditorium muted colours are enlived by rows of small, bright house lights    
  • The main entrance at night    
  • The main foyer curves around the auditorium on several levels    
  • Varnished fair-faced concrete and gloss ceilings provide lively reflective surfaces    
  • Red gloss painted ceilings in the bar    
  • Doors are colour coded to match tickets    
  • Bar and upper-level foyer have a striking, specially designed carpet by Britons of Kidderminster    
  • The strong concrete shape was designed to be the focal point of a new civic square    
  • The theatre from south-east has a strongly shaped appearance    
  • No seat is more that 60 feet from the stage    
  • The Hexagon form stands out against Park Hill flats    
  • Entrance to main foyer    
  • Very close actor/ audience relationship on the main stage    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Plan at entrance level    
  • Foyer level plan    
  • Upper level plan    
  • Plan of auditorium    
  • sectional perspective    
  • Ground, foyer and upper level plans    

Civic theatre to replace existing Playhouse, with an auditorium to seat 1,000 people arranged on three sides of a thrust stage and separate studio theatre to seat up to 300

At the centre of the building is a 36.6m (120ft) sound-proofed octagon containing the stage, audience and rear stage. The stage level is dictated by the unloading bay and workshop complex.

The audience is seated in one steeply raked bank of seats located a maximum of 18 metres from the centre of the stage. Boxes are provided to integrate the stage rear wall with the auditorium for use by actors, scenery or audience. The stage is accessible between the stage towers or from under the demountable stage, via tunnel entrances.

The principal public entrance into the building is from the forecourt at half level below the auditorium entrance. The entrance area and adjacent Grill Bar are connected to the two other public entrances of the lower foyer, which acts as an internal street and contains the box office, kiosks, cloaks, exhibition area and entrance to the studio and buffet.

The problem of relating the entrances to the building to the main foyer overlooking the Sheaf Valley has induced a spiral movement of the audience which flows around the octagonal form of the auditorium. The interconnected volumes permit the audience to see and be seen. The staircases and entrances divide the foyers to restrict access to various parts and is used for receptions, poetry reading and non-theatre catering.


  • Begun: Oct 1969
  • Completed: Nov 1971
  • Floor area: 62,000m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £675,000
  • Address: 55 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 1DA, United Kingdom

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