Restored, refreshed and renewed…
Chichester Festival Theatre
emerges from the dark
I learned a phrase from one of the Chichester Festival Theatre team last year. When I was talking to her about our winter issue she said “Come back to us in the spring, the theatre is going dark.” What a delightful phrase, ‘going dark’. Not having a thespian background and not having heard it before, for a moment my mind wandered off into a mystical realm of imagination while I pondered the term. Then the penny dropped. All this happened in a split second and of course my contact had no idea that I had, for a moment, considered her a white witch with magical abilities who was turning to the dark side. I now have embraced the concept and can see how the term fully describes a theatre closing for a while. And so Chichester Festival Theatre did close for a season and now is rejuvenated and brings us its usual superlative array of talent for 2014.
Chichester Festival Theatre’s Artistic Director Jonathan Church and Executive Director Alan Finch have announced the Festival 2014 season now the transformed theatre has reopened after a £22 million refurbishment. The first production will be Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus directed by Jonathan Church with Rupert Everett as Salieri and a celebration of Peter Shaffer’s work will be at the heart of the season, which also features Black Comedy and a host of special events.
The major improvements to the Grade II listed building will greatly enhance the experience of audiences, actors and creative teams visiting the Festival Theatre. With a transformed auditorium, increased seating capacity of 1,300, more spacious foyer areas with new cafés, bars and outdoor terraces, as well as improved and expanded artist facilities, Chichester Festival Theatre’s high artistic reputation will now be matched by world-class spaces.
Three world premières reveal undiscovered histories through compelling dramas: Pitcairn by Richard Bean, Pressure by David Haig and Taken at Midnight by Mark Hayhurst. There are two new adaptations: Miss Julie by Rebecca Lenkiewicz and The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Bryony Lavery. Broadway musicals also mark the Festival Theatre reopening: Guys and Dolls directed by Gordon Greenberg, choreographed by Carlos Acosta, both making their Chichester debuts, and Gypsy directed by Jonathan Kent, choreography by Stephen Mear, with Imelda Staunton as Mama Rose, Lara Pulver as Louise and Kevin Whately as Herbie.
There are a host of talented actors taking part in the season including Lynda Baron, Rosalie Craig, Clare Foster, David Haig, Dervla Kirwan, Chris Larkin, Jamie Parker, Peter Polycarpou, Patricia Routledge, Malcolm Sinclair, Sophie Thompson, Zoë Wanamaker and Penelope Wilton.
Visit cft.org.uk for full information about performances, talks and discussions, post show late interviews, post show Q & As, a theatre open day, theatre tours and hidden histories from the theatre’s archives, one of which by the way, I have contributed.