Chichester Festival Theatre is internationally important and during the Summer Festival produces plays that often transfer to London’s West End and New York. Positioned in the beautiful surroundings of Oaklands Park, Chichester Festival Theatre is one of the United Kingdom’s flagship theatres, with a dazzling international reputation for producing a wide range of theatrical productions, from musicals and comedies, to classic drama and innovative new writing.
Since opening in 1962, Chichester Festival Theatre has established an international reputation as one of the UK’s flagship regional venues. The Festival Theatre was founded by Leslie Evershed-Martin CBE and its first artistic director was Laurence Olivier. The smaller, more intimate Minerva Theatre opened in 1989.
With 1206 seats, the Festival Theatre was the first modern theatre in this country to have an open ‘thrust’ stage with the audience seated around it on three sides, allowing it a close involvement with the actors. With its 283 seats, the Minerva Theatre was to offer a smaller and more intimate space.
Leslie Evershed-Martin was a local ophthalmic optician and councillor who was inspired by Canada’s Stratford Ontario Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. Sir Tyrone Guthrie, its founder, encouraged him to proceed with what many people believed was an impossible dream. From that day in 1962 when ‘the impossible theatre’ opened with Laurence Olivier as its first Director, Chichester Festival Theatre has built an international reputation for theatrical excellence.
The emphasis of the theatre’s programme is on the summer Festival, which this year runs from May to November and includes plays from classics to contemporary writing, as well as musicals and a programme of events designed to enhance the audiences’ enjoyment of the productions.
Go to the Chichester Festival Theatre website for more details.