Chichester Festival Theatre at Fifty

11 June 2012

Chichester Festival Theatre at 50On Friday afternoon in Chichester, many of those who had played their parts over the first fifty years of the Chichester Festival Theatre‘s life came to drink pink champagne, to eat cake and to celebrate the publication of Chichester Festival Theatre at Fifty. It was a wonderful, celebratory occasion. As well as members of staff past and present, there were Artistic and Executive Directors past and present – Patrick Garland, John Gale, Duncan Weldon, Alan Finch – and some of CFT’s most beloved actresses, including Patricia Routledge and Sarah Badel. Board members past and present, mingled with the leading lights of the Friends’ Society and those who, like me, had lived their whole lives in the benign shadow of CFT.

Published by Unbound, the book looks and feels beautiful and since every single penny raised by the sale of the book goes to CFT’s RENEW campaign, many people bought several copies as presents.

What was most remarkable, though, was the fact that hundreds of local people came to have their books signed on publication day. The queue was in (and out!) of the Main House foyer – dark this week while the next show is being prepared – and the excellent front-of-house staff gave out free cake and coffee (though the wine had to be paid for ….) as the hours ticked by. Most people wanted to reminisce and share their stories of their ‘first’ CFT production or the time they had queued up all night for returns or other key events in CFT’s history. It was a wonderful reminder that Chichester Festival Theatre is a theatre built by the local community, for the local community, but with international ambitions and influence.

On Tuesday 12th June in the Pimlott Building at CFT at 5pm, I’ll be in conversation with Education Director Rupert Rowbotham, about both the book and the history behind the book. If you’re in Sussex and have an hour to spare, do join us! It’s free, but you have to reserve a ticket.

Box Office 01243 781312