Address: Oaklands Park, Chichester, West Sussex, PO196AP
Region: West Sussex, South East
Contact Name: Lucinda Morrison
History: Chichester Festival Theatre was founded by local opthalmic optician and former city mayor, Leslie Evershed-Martin, who was inspired by Tyrone Guthrie’s Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. Working with Chichester City Council to find a suitable site, he motivated local individuals and businesses to raise the £105,000 needed to build the Theatre. Following the Stratford Ontario model, architects Powell and Moya designed an auditorium combining ancient Greek and Roman precedents with elements of Elizabethan theatre. When Chichester Festival Theatre opened in 1962, it was Britain’s first modern thrust stage theatre. The first artistic director, Sir Laurence Olivier (1962-65) established a company of actors and theatre practitioners at Chichester which provided the nucleus of the new National Theatre company which he was to establish at London’s Old Vic Theatre in 1963. In 2014, Chichester Festival Theatre reopened after a £22million redevelopment project to renew and restore the Theatre for the 21st century; it now seats 1,300 people. The Minerva Theatre, which seats 300, opened in 1989.
Productions per year: 20
Regular Venues: Festival Theatre & Minerva Theatre
Membership required for auditioning?: no
Membership required for participation?: no
Does the society run a youth group?: yes
Admins can request Sardines reviews, upload shows and add auditions
Chichester Festival Theatre (professional)Report Society
Chichester Festival Theatre is one of the UK’s flagship theatres, renowned for the exceptionally high standard of its productions as well as its work with the community and young people. Situated in a cathedral city in West Sussex between the South Downs and the sea, the Festival Theatre’s bold thrust stage design makes it one of England’s most striking playhouses – equally suited to epic drama and musicals. Its studio theatre, the Minerva, is particularly noted for premieres of new work alongside intimate revivals.
The annual Festival season runs from April to November, during which productions originated at Chichester reach an audience of over 230,000. Year-round programming continues through the winter with the Theatre presenting high-class touring productions, as well as a traditional Christmas show mounted by the renowned Chichester Festival Youth Theatre.
Recent transfers from Chichester (as originating producer) include Caroline, Or Change (London’s Hampstead Theatre and the West End’s Playhouse Theatre 2018/19); Ian McKellen in King Lear, which transferred to the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre in 2018 and was broadcast to cinemas internationally by NT Live; Daniel Evans’s production of James Graham’s Quiz, which transferred to the West End’s Noël Coward Theatre in 2018; and Laura Wade’s The Watsons, which transferred to the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2019.
Rooted firmly in its community, the Theatre runs a Learning, Education and Participation (LEAP) programme that is a beacon of excellence and inspiration to its local audience, as well as being home to one of the country’s largest youth theatres with over 800 members.
For more information, visit cft.org.uk
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