Acting like a steelworker

An actor who worked on Coronation Street and is starring in a play at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, has visited Sheffield Forgemasters to research his role as a steelworker.


Robert Lonsdale plays the part of Harry in Standing at the Sky’s Edge, a play which tells the story of three sets of tenants from one flat at Sheffield’s Park Hill estate from 1960 to now.


It sees Harry’s life as a married steelworker moving into the estate when it first opened, and follows the story of his family and the lives of the other residents. Robert Lonsdale approached Sheffield Forgemasters to gain real insight into the steel industry across the decades.


Standing at the Sky’s Edge features music by local song-writing legend, Richard Hawley, and returns to Sheffield after sell-out shows in its 2019 debut year.


Robert Lonsdale (39), said: “Looking around Forgemasters left me pretty speechless.


“The sheer scale of what they do there is incredible. I’ve never seen such precise work done by such huge and brutal looking machinery. It was clear to see that apart from health and safety, infrastructure and output - the process of making steel is timeless.


“The alchemy of it hasn’t changed hugely, and the people who do it all are the same as they ever were. Thank you so much to Billy and all at Forgemasters for letting me learn about what they do. It’s given me a deep and detailed understanding of the life of a steel worker.”


Robert’s tour of the 64-acre site gave him first-hand views of steel being melted in the company’s electric arc furnace and large ingots being forged under a 10,000 tonne press.


Gareth Barker, Chief Operating Officer at Sheffield Forgemasters, said: “We were pleased to be able to talk to Robert and show him some of the processes which his character may well have been part of sixty years ago.


“Although things are radically different from a technology point of view, the ethos which drives our employees, to be the best at what they do, hasn’t changed and the company is still a valuable employer for the city.”


Standing at the Sky’s Edge a Sheffield Theatres and National Theatre Co-Production, in association with Various Productions and is open now, running until 21 January 2023 at the Crucible Theatre.


Further details about Standing at the Sky’s Edge can be found on the Sheffield Theatres website.