Chichester Festival Theatre is a Grade II listed building in Oaklands Park, Chichester. It was originally conceived by Leslie Evershed-Martin, a city mayor who was inspired in 1959 when he saw a TV programme about the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre Festival in Canada. Working with Chichester City Council, local individuals and businesses, Evershed-Martin managed to raise the £105,000 needed and so the Festival Theatre opened its doors to the public in 1962. Today, the Festival Season runs from April to September with the programme including musicals, classics and contemporary writing. A plethora of local B&Bs and hotels in West Sussex provide excellent accommodation for theatre-goers of all ages, and a great base from which to explore the rest of the delights that this ancient city has to offer.
History of Chichester Festival Theatre
The theatre was designed by the architects Powell and Moya and based on the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre. The theatre is also inspired by ancient Greek and Roman amphitheatres and Elizabethan theatre in that the stage is placed right at the centre of the audience with the auditorium surrounding it. This ensures that the audience have a much more immersive theatrical experience. The first artistic director of the Chichester Festival Theatre was Sir Laurence Olivier. It was Olivier's idea to produce several shows with the same ensemble cast to run in repertoire, which formed the basis of the first National Theatre Company.
Chichester Festival Theatre Programming
Throughout festival season and in addition to musicals, classics and showcasing contemporary writing, the theatre also puts on cabaret nights and is usually a stopping off point of most TV stand ups when on national tour. The theatre also has a strong community outreach programme and puts on family events and talks. If you're staying in a Chichester hotel for a few days and want an entertaining night out, then make sure you take a look at the theatre programme. You'll more than likely be able to see an entertainer from television, an interesting play or a well-known musical. However, if you see an unfamiliar listing then why not take a chance? Chichester Festival Theatre also has such a good reputation when it comes to programming that you might be pleasantly surprised.