Opening the archives to reveal Festival Theatre’s hidden history

Portsmouth Players in rehearsal for The Full Monty

Portsmouth Players dare to bare as they go The Full Monty at The Kings Theatre

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As final preparations take place for the reopening of the Festival Theatre in July, a special event is being held to bring to life some of the hidden histories from the theatre archives.

Emerging Stories from the Festival Theatre Archive will shine a spotlight on these undiscovered materials, as Simon Barker, a University of Chichester professor and theatre historian, presents a potted history with selected objects that have been kept under wraps until the day of the talk.

To illustrate the projet, professor Barker has been given access to previously unseen photos, written records and memorabilia charting the Festival Theatre’s progress from 1962 to the present.

The event has been organised by Pass It On, in association with the Festival of Chichester.

Pass It On is a three year CFT project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to capture, explore and share the history of the Festival Theatre, uncovering the contribution of the many local people who worked tirelessly behind the scenes.

During the last 18 months, volunteers have been hard at work sorting through the archives, collecting people’s memories of the theatre and documenting the discoveries they have made.

More events and exhibitions are planned later this year to highlight and celebrate the archive materials that have been gathered and anyone with photos, footage or memories of the theatre that they would like to share is welcome to contact the Pass It On team by emailing

Emerging Stories will take place at Chichester Library on Wednesday at 7.30pm. Tickets are free but booking is essential. Visit or call 01243 781312.