Chichester Festival Theatre unveils 50th anniversary season

Natalie Woolman

Chichester Festival Theatre is to build a new, temporary venue in the park beside the venue as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations this summer.

The space – which has been called Theatre on the Fly – will host work by three young directors who have trained at CFT in recent years. The structure is being created as an “echo” of the Tent, which opened in Chichester in 1983 with the aim of producing experimental work. This strand is now housed in the Minerva venue. The season in Theatre on the Fly will be announced in due course.

The anniversary programme in the company’s permanent venues looks back to CFT’s history with new productions of Uncle Vanya and The Way of the World, which are judged to be particularly emblematic of the theatre’s work.

Uncle Vanya formed part of the theatre’s inaugural season and starred Laurence Olivier. The 2012 cast includes Roger Allam, Dervla Kirwan and Timothy West. Jeremy Herrin will direct the production in the Minerva Theatre, and it will run from March 30. The Way of the World was produced in 1984 with Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith. Penelope Keith will play Lady Wishfort in the new production, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh. The play will run in the Festival Theatre from April 13.

Derek Jacobi will perform in Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House in the Festival Theatre from early July. Jacobi was a member of the theatre’s second company in 1963.

Meanwhile, Trevor Nunn will direct Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, which will run from June 18 in the Festival Theatre with choreography by Stephen Mear and CFT artistic director Jonathan Church will direct The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, with Henry Goodman in the title role. Toby Stephens will make his Chichester debut in Noel Coward’s Private Lives alongside Anna Chancellor from late September.

New work this year includes Alan Ayckbourn’s Surprises and Michael Wynne’s Canvas in the Minerva and A Marvellous Year for Plums by Hugh Whitemore in the Festival Theatre. Whitemore’s screenplays include The Gathering Storm and his theatre credits include Stevie.

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