The Crucible Theatre at 50: Michael Rudman

In 1990, Stephen Barry was appointed to run the newly-formed Sheffield Theatres, comprising the Crucible and Lyceum Theatres, and Mark Brickman, perhaps best known for his dynamic productions of classical texts, was new in his role of Artistic Director of the Crucible.

However, the early 1990s were marked with “recession, gloomy figures and disappointingly low attendances.” Mark Brickman left in 1991 and was replaced by American-born Michael Rudman, an Artistic Director who had previously directed at the old Sheffield Playhouse, and returned with a wealth of directing experience including the West End and Broadway.

Rudman graduated from Oberlin College in 1960, and four years later received an MA in English Language and Literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford.

His career as a director began at the Nottingham Playhouse, where he was Assistant Director and Associate Producer to John Neville from 1964-1968. He went on to become Director of the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh from 1970-1973, after which he took up the post of Artistic Director at Hampstead Theatre until 1978. Rudman was invited to join the National Theatre by Sir Peter Hall, and was Director of the Lyttelton Theatre from 1979-82. He continued there as an Associate until 1988, after which he went to the Chichester Festival Theatre before arriving at Sheffield Theatres in 1991.

His stay at the Crucible might have been short, but he masterminded seven out of the eleven shows staged during his reign, credited as having turned around the artistic fortunes of the theatre and increasing audience figures by the time he left in 1994.

“I spent most of my time on the train between London and Sheffield and the train was always late.”

Perhaps he is best-known for his adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Alex Kingston and Anthony Brown in 1992.

Following his departure from Sheffield, Michael spent most of the nineties out of the limelight, occasionally returning to Texas to help run the family business, but has notched up a credible roster of productions in New York and on the West End.

Rudman was married to Felicity Kendal for seven years until their divorce in 1990, and reunited as a couple eight years later.