At the end of May 2021, we threw open the Crucible doors to thirteen different productions made by local theatre companies, artists, and makers as we launched The Together Season Festival. What better way to invite everyone back to the theatre?
We wanted to acknowledge the sheer wealth of talent we have in the region. We wanted to find a way to champion these local voices
The Festival was a festival of firsts: the first time live theatre had been back on the Crucible stage in nearly six months, but also the first time Sheffield Theatres had programmed using an open submissions policy of shows and programmers made up of the public. The submissions call-out took place in November 2020, looking both for shows and for the panel who would programme the festival, made up of audience members, and members of the local community.
A panel of 12 volunteers were appointed to select from over 60 shows submitted, with the aim of reflecting the wide range of experiences of people across Sheffield.
"Engaging with local artists and the local community is important! They are a key part of the Sheffield audience. To truly do this, diversity is critical. It’s more important than ever to make our stages look diverse and create inclusive theatre that anyone can access" – Jodie Marshall, panel member
The Festival aimed to increase transparency around the programming process. Panel members met on zoom to decide who would take part in the festival fortnight – and it wasn’t always unanimous…
"Programming is not a straightforward exercise. They are so many factors to take into consideration and as you can imagine, perfectly brilliant production pitches don’t always make the final cut" – Ellie McPhail, panel member
"Being a part of a large selection panel is a long process. No matter how much amazing talent you have, someone will miss out, because you can’t give performance space to everyone" – Jodie Marshall, panel member
"I loved being able to look under the hood of the programming of a large theatre and also to be able to meet other interested people, as well as being able to speak for members of the artistic community who mightn’t feel that they have their voices heard in such meetings" – Dermot Daley, panel member
The panel chose 13 works for the Together Season Festival, and what a brilliant programme it was! From spoken word comedy to aerial theatre, from magical puppetry to one-woman monologues, there were so many genres for audiences to choose from.
Here’s what audiences had to say:
"All round brilliant experience"
"Loved the Festival - great way to bring the audience back"
"Brilliant to see local talent being given a platform let's see more we have a wealth of talent in the City"
"It was so refreshing to see Sheffield based artists on a Sheffield stage"
"The atmosphere was electric"
With the last bows taken and the final cheers of the fortnight having filled the Crucible auditorium, all that’s left to say is a massive thank you to everyone involved. To the artists, the panel, the staff at Sheffield Theatres, and of course the audiences, thank you for helping us present a brilliant festival. We’re so excited to be back.
More opportunities like this will (hopefully) make the social discussion broader, wider, and way more meaningful – much like the discussions that we as a panel had
Open an image gallery
Photography by Becky Payne
Photography for The Ballad of Mulan by Becki Tovey