The Crucible Theatre at 50: Colin George

Colin George, the actor and theatrical visionary who was the founding Artistic Director of the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, which opened in 1971 with its radical ‘thrust stage’.

He was one of the post-war generation of British directors who moved theatre on from fortnightly rep in “the provinces” to more adventurous productions that could compete with television drama and the West End stage.

George took over from Geoffrey Ost as Artistic Director of Sheffield Playhouse in 1965, and much to his astonishment, a year later, the city’s Labour council asked George where he wanted his new theatre. His meeting with Tyrone Guthrie, the American director, convinced him to make the Crucible as it is today.

George worked in turn at the State Theatre Company of South Australia and then the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. In Australia, he gave Mel Gibson and Judy Davis their first stage roles as the leads in Romeo and Juliet.

Returning to Britain he devised his own one-man-show in the person of Shakespeare’s father and in 1994 joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. In the company was Daniel Evans, who later became Artistic Director of the Crucible. In 2011, in the theatre’s 40th anniversary production of Othello with Dominic West and Clarke Peters, Evans invited George back to play Desdemona’s aged father.

It was George’s last role, and in the theatre he loved. He died in 2016.

A new book, ‘Stirring Up Sheffield,’ written by Colin George, and his son, Tedd George, is published by Wordville Press this week.