Skip links

Utopia Theatre announces biggest ever production run at The Crucible

First time Death and the King’s Horseman will be staged in the steel city

Sheffield-based African theatre company Utopia Theatre has announced its biggest production to date at the Crucible, bringing the powerful story of Death and The King’s Horseman to the steel city for the first time.

Building on the past success of the joyous Anna Hibiscus’ Song in the Playhouse, the next Utopia Theatre and Sheffield Theatres collaboration will be traditional Nigerian story, Death and The King’s Horseman, at the Crucible. Set to be staged from Monday 3rd to Saturday 8th February 2025, the show is a co-production which will see a 20-strong cast stage eight performances in the 750-seat auditorium. Tickets are now on general sale.

Sheffield Theatres and Utopia Theatre have worked together for more than a decade, and each year productions have grown in scale and size. This milestone underpins Utopia Theatre’s NPO status with Arts Council England. Previously, Here’s What She Said To Me, produced by Mojisola Kareem, was to be the biggest show for Utopia Theatre at Sheffield Theatres but its run had to be cut short due to Covid-19 lockdowns.
Mojisola Kareem, CEO and Artistic Director of Utopia Theatre, said:
"Having the opportunity to stage this traditional Nigerian production is a real ‘pinch me’ moment. The fact that we’re able to do so across eight performances seating up to 750 people each time is both humbling and exhilarating. "
We’re ambitious in our creativity and are always pushing boundaries, bringing together powerful stories rooted in African history and adding our contemporary edge on them to captivate audiences. It's a real privilege to be the first theatre company to bring this renowned and respected story to Sheffield Theatres. The relationship we have with Sheffield Theatres has been transformative, enabling us to grow and reach new audiences every time we work together and that’s quite incredible.”
Death and The King’s Horseman was written by Akinwale Oluwole Soyinka and is based on a true story whereby Elesin, the king’s horseman, is tasked with carrying out a sacred ritual upon the death of the king. Directed by Kareem, the production will feature dance, music and capture the spirituality of Yoruba people. The 20-strong cast will be announced later in the year.
Death and the King’s Horseman was first staged in 1976 and continues to be produced around the world, including at the National Theatre in London and most recently for the Stratford Festival in Canada in 2023. Soyinka’s work intertwines traditional African theatre with contemporary themes, making Death and The King’s Horseman a compelling narrative of cultural duty versus personal dilemma. This production promises a captivating portrayal of Soyinka’s vision, inviting audiences into a world where myth meets modernity.

Kareem added: 

“It’s an honour and a pleasure to bring this iconic story to life and we aim to deliver a thought-provoking theatrical experience right here in our home city.”
Rob Hastie, Artistic Director at Sheffield Theatres, said:
“Our relationship with Utopia Theatre is very important to us, and has produced some dazzling work for audiences both here at the theatres and on tour. Over the last few years, Utopia Theatre has thrilled with new plays, a beautiful adaptation of a children’s book and powerful West African perspectives on classic British texts. It’s hugely exciting that they now bring their distinctive style of theatre-making to an undisputed masterpiece of African drama. Mojisola’s production is going to electrify the Crucible stage.”
As an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, Utopia Theatre is focused on delivering a programme of events and productions to share compelling stories of African diaspora and inspire the next generation of creatives.
To buy tickets to the Death and the King’s Horseman, visit