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Sheffield Theatres Announce the Together Season

The Together Season has been designed with everyone’s safety in mind, in accordance with the latest government advice.

Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres, Robert Hastie, today announces the Together Season, a bold programme of exciting work that will bring live theatre back to Sheffield this autumn; an open call for submissions for local artists to bring work to the Crucible stage in 2021 and the appointment of a new Associate Artistic Director, Anthony Lau, supported by RTYDS.

The Together Season has been designed with everyone's safety in mind, in accordance with the latest government advice. The performances will take place in the Crucible theatre which has been configured to ensure social distancing and the safest and most relaxed experience for everyone. This includes the introduction of contactless measures such as e-tickets, staggered audience arrival times, temperature checks, the ability to purchase tickets in distanced bubbles and new cleaning routines. All performances will be completed by 9.30pm. Sheffield Theatres will remain responsive to any further guidance over the coming weeks and months and will adapt its approach accordingly.

Speaking about the new season, Artistic Director Robert Hastie said:

"We've called this season Together because that's the feeling we've missed most, and the experience that theatre does best. We've all been through - and are still going through - a lot. Now, more than ever, the experience of being together feels vital. This season offers a huge welcome back to the Crucible for the audiences, artists and staff we've missed so much this last six months. Together is a celebration of theatre, in all its glorious forms, with drama, music, comedy and pantomime all taking to the stage over the coming months.

I believe starting to make work again is the right thing to do - the best way to serve our audiences and the best way to support our artistic community. Sheffield loves its theatre, and I've never felt that love more powerfully expressed than during the last few months, when people have told us how much they've missed it. We're hugely grateful to the audiences who've shown us such support and solidarity, and we know that we've now got an important part to play in the recovery of our great city and region.

I'm very excited to be joined as we embark on this journey by our new Associate Artistic Director, Anthony Lau. A director of exceptional talent and vision, he will help us extend the scope and ambition of our work, and it's a real pleasure to be welcoming him to the team. The role is a new initiative supported by the RTYDS, with whom we're proud to have worked many times in the past, and whose commitment to nurturing and championing the wealth of diverse talent in the next generation of theatre leaders is inspiring and invaluable.

We're announcing the first half of the Together season today, with lots more to follow. It brings a range of voices to the stage, and while we can't open our other spaces just yet, we're packing the Crucible with all the energy and excitement we'd normally be sharing across all three venues.

I'm excited that our co-production with our company in residence, Utopia Theatre, Here's What She Said to Me, originally slated for last season, will now move to the Crucible stage. This moving and intimate picture of three generations of Nigerian women spread across two continents, is directed by Utopia's Artistic Director, Mojisola Elufowoju.

Operation Crucible returns after a sell-out 2016 Studio run, telling a story that captures the strength we find in friendship at times of great adversity, and casting a light on the night of the Sheffield Blitz in its 80th anniversary year.

Far Gone, a blistering one-man tour de force written and performed by our supported artist John Rwothomack, also makes a welcome return, having started life as a scratch performance in our Studio before growing into a full-length piece at Theatre Deli. It'll be a joy to see John lighting up the Crucible stage.

And then, I'm so delighted that panto is popping-up with the irrepressible Damian Williams, our much-loved Dame, leading a company that promises plenty of festive fun and laughter. Pantomime is such an important part of our audiences' year - Christmas in Sheffield just wouldn't be the same without Damian.

A key element of the season is collaboration with local companies and artists. Looking to the future, we're seeking more work made in Yorkshire that demands a platform through our Open Submissions programme. We're inviting artists and companies from across the region to submit productions for programming in the second half of the season. It's crucial not only that we make this process open and transparent, but that we broaden the pool of those who have a say in what gets seen on our stages. As Artistic Director, I'll be observing but not leading this process, which will instead be convened by our new Associate Artistic Director Anthony Lau with a wide-ranging panel of artists, audience members and representatives of the theatre. Next month we'll open for submissions.

We know that being together means taking a little extra care at the moment. We'll be drawing on all that we learned as the host of one of the government's pilot events in the summer, when we welcomed hundreds of people for the World Snooker Championships, and ensuring that everyone is offered a warm, relaxed and safe welcome back.

We're going to be doing things differently for a while. We're making ambitious programming possible by committing the Crucible to a unifying, cost-saving design framework, that creatively responds to social distancing on and off stage. It'll take our audiences on a journey, and allow us to focus our resources on employing as many people brilliant people as we can - brilliant people with big ideas who can transform our space with imaginative reinvention of the set, prop and costume stores we've built up over years. Each show we produce will have its own full creative team, responding to the season design by creative associates Ben Stones and Lucy Carter.

I can't wait for us to be together again, safely socially distanced, to experience incredible work once more on the iconic Crucible stage."

Anthony Lau joins Sheffield Theatres as the first appointment through the RTYDS Associate Artistic Director Scheme. The programme provides a new opportunity for an experienced and exceptional director to work in a leading regional theatre at a senior level, providing them with the tools to continue to develop their craft whilst learning about the role of an artistic director in cultural leadership. Sheffield Theatres were selected in November 2019 as the host for this inaugural opportunity.

Anthony Lau commented "I am hugely excited and privileged to be joining Sheffield Theatres and RTYDS, two brilliant organisations known for their artistic excellence and commitment to theatre and its future. In times like these, theatre has the power to unite and I am thrilled at the prospect of learning and building towards a collective tomorrow. This is a challenge that I can't wait to meet head on."

RTYDS Artistic Director, Sue Emmas said "Anthony will bring all his passion, insight and artistry to the role. Both RTYDS and Sheffield Theatres will benefit enormously from his ideas and energy. He will engage with the city, the people and the artists in Sheffield and for RTYDS he will enable us to support artists across the country with more depth and reach."

The Together Season has been generously supported by the Victoria Wood Foundation.

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