It’s fifty years since Colin George fought and succeeded in opening the Crucible Theatre, and there have been many ups and downs along the way.
The current Artistic Director, Rob Hastie, had big shoes to fill when Daniel Evans left for the Chichester Festival in 2016, and an unforeseen challenge – the long-enforced closure of the Crucible Theatre during the pandemic.
Hastie’s connection with Sheffield Theatres has been a long one. As a child he travelled from Scarborough to see plays, and in 2005, fresh out of drama school, he appeared in Edward Bond’s Lear – his professional theatre debut.
“My grandfather was born near Sheffield, and my parents were at college here. So the city always meant something to me growing up. When we went to the theatre, one of the places we came to was The Crucible. So Yorkshire is home. More sentimentally for me, it’s where I started my stage career as an actor.”
Much has been made about Hastie’s meteoric rise as a director. His first taste of professional directing came as an associate on Josie Rourke’s West End production of Much Ado About Nothing, starring Catherine Tate and David Tennant. He followed this with acclaimed productions of Events While Guarding the Bofors Gun, Splendour and My Night with Reg, which landed him an Evening Standard Theatre Award nomination. He also became associate director of the Donmar Warehouse in London.
“I was very happy at the Donmar, and I had some great experiences there. But there’s no way I could have refused the possibility of getting to work at the Sheffield Crucible which is, for my money, the most beautiful and welcoming theatre space in the country.”
At the Crucible, Hastie has directed Coriolanus with Tom Bateman and the musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge, which was created by Richard Hawley and Chris Bush, and which opened in March 2019 to outstanding reviews.
He’s also directed a critically acclaimed revival of The York Realist, co-produced with, and presented at the Donmar Warehouse in London. Other productions have included Guys and Dolls, Julius Caesar, Of Kith and Kin, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Wizard of Oz.
Above all else, it will be Everybody’s Talking About Jamie that Hastie commissioned and premiered at the Crucible in 2017, going on to the West End, possibly Broadway, and now a movie.