Being awarded regional theatre of the year, and having a number of productions transferring to the West End, CFT’s fiftieth anniversary season has been eagerly anticipated.
To celebrate 50 years since the theatre’s first artistic director Laurence Olivier opened the doors, the new season features world premieres, a look at past productions, and a look to the future.
American actress Kim Cattrall is only one of the stars who will feature in this years season, as other actors appearing at the theatre include Roger Allam, Henry Goodman, Penelope Keith, Michael Pennington, and Derek Jacobi.
The anniversary season begins with a new production of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, which marked a turning point with the Festival Theatre during its first season in 1962, starrng Laurence Olivier. New loves and old loyalties are tested in the Russian play, and featured in the cast is Roger Allam (Henry IV Parts I and II), Dervla Kirwan (Aristocrats and Betrayal) and Timothy West (King Lear).
William Congreve’s The Way Of The World will star Penelope Keith, followed by a Hugh Whitemore world premiere with A Marvellous Year For Plums. Directed by Philip Franks, the political thriller takes a look at the Suez Crisis in 1956, and the collapsing health of Prime Minister Anthony Eden.
The theme of world premieres will carry on with Michael Wynne’s new comedy, Canvas, that looks at three couples who decide to get away from it all and go on a camping holiday.
This year the theatre’s summer musical is Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate, a classic re-working of Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew it follows Lilli and Fred’s romantic relations offstage as they become wrapped up in the on stage story of Kate and Petruchio.
Chichester Festival Theatre’s artistic director, Jonathan Church, will direct Berolty Brecht’s The Resistible Rise Of Arturo UI. Parable to the rise of Hitler and starring Henry Goodman, it’s the Great Depression and the perfect time for Aruto Ui and his gangsters to run protection rackets.
Critically acclaimed actor Derek Jacobi (My Week With Marilyn, Gladiator) will play the eccentric Captain Shotver in Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House, a play that explores the love and social morals of its outspoken female characters.
Alan Ayckbourn will be showcasing his new comedy, Surprises, alongside the well-known Absurd Person Singular, with the two productions being part of the London 2012 Festival, a celebration of the Olympics through the visual arts.
Known internationally for her role as Samantha in Sex And The City, actress Kim Cattrall will star in a new production of Anthony and Cleopatra, directed by Janet Suzman. Michael Pennington, who’s done extensive work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and appeared in Festival 2011’s The Syndicate alongside Ian McKellen, will play Anthony.
Finally, Noel Coward’s Private Lives will round off the season at the end of September. Directed by Jonathan Kent, who also directed the multi-award winning Sweeney Todd, it stars Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Toby Stephens (Jane Eyre).
The Chichester Festival Youth Theatre will present Noah in the summer, the story of his miraculous journey to the Arc.
Artistic director of the theatre, and director for The Resistible Rise of Arturo UI, Jonathan Church says: ‘With the programme we’re looking to our past, our present, and our future. Our first play is one from our first season, and we have world premieres.’
‘I think we’re doing a lot to celebrate our fiftieth year. We have some great actors, such as Kim Cattrall. Many people don’t realise she’s British and started off as a British actor.’
For more information on dates and tickets contact Chichester Festival Theatre on (01243) 781312 or go to cft.org.uk.
THEATRE ON THE FLY
Chichester Festival Theatre will be creating a whole new space for the next generation of theatre-makers, Theatre On The Fly.
Since 2007 the theatre has trained three young directors, and this summer they will present their debut productions in a contempoary temporary theatre commissioned, programmed, and run by themselves.
The structure echos The Tent, a predecsor to the Minerva Theatre which was a large marquee, and held imprompt performances.
The temporary space will include a mix of readings, films, revues, cabarets, concerts, workshops and Youth Theatre work throughout the season.
More details of the Theatre On The Fly will be announced in the Spring.