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Chichester Festival Theatre
Theatre Oaklands Park Chichester.jpg
The Festival Theatre is on the left, the Minerva to the right.
Chichester Festival Theatre is located in Chichester city centre
Chichester Festival Theatre
Chichester Festival Theatre
Location in Chichester city centre
Address Oaklands Park, Chichester, West Sussex
Coordinates 50°50′35″N 0°46′39″W / 50.843048°N 0.777390°W / 50.843048; -0.777390
Designation Grade II* listed
Capacity Festival Theatre: 1206 Minerva Theatre: 283
Opened 1962
Architect Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya

Chichester Festival Theatre, located in Chichester, Sussex, England, is a theatre designed by Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya, and opened by its founder Leslie Evershed-Martin in 1962. The smaller and more intimate Minerva Theatre was built nearby in 1989.

The inaugural Artistic Director was Sir Laurence Olivier, and it was at Chichester that the first National Theatre company was formed. Chichester's productions would transfer to the NT's base at the Old Vic in London. The opening productions in 1962 were: The Chances by John Fletcher (first production 1638) which opened on 3 July; The Broken Heart (1633), by John Ford, opened 9 July; Uncle Vanya (1896), by Anton Chekov, opened 16 July. Among the actors in the opening season were: Lewis Casson, Fay Compton, Joan Greenwood, Rosemary Harris, Kathleen Harrison, Keith Michell, André Morell, John Neville, Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Michael Redgrave, Athene Seyler, Sybil Thorndike and Peter Woodthorpe.

The Festival Season usually runs from April to early December and includes productions from classics to contemporary writing and musicals, reaching an audience of 230,000. Productions originated at Chichester frequently transfer to London or tour nationally and internationally.

A range of additional events is designed to add to the experience of visiting the theatre, including performances, cabarets, family days, tours and talks. Through the winter months, the Theatre presents touring productions and a Christmas show mounted by Chichester Festival Youth Theatre. The Theatre runs a large and active Learning, Education and Participation programme for all ages; its Youth Theatre is one of the largest in the country, with over 800 members.

The Theatre is a registered charity and is chaired by Sir William Castell. Daniel Evans has been Artistic Director since 2016. It is a Grade II* listed building.

Artistic directors

  • Sir Laurence Olivier (1962–1965)
  • Sir John Clements (1966–1973)
  • Keith Michell (1974–1977)
  • Peter Dews (1978–1980)
  • Patrick Garland (1981–1984)
  • John Gale (1985–1989)
  • Michael Rudman (1990)
  • Patrick Garland (1991–1994)
  • Sir Derek Jacobi and Duncan C. Weldon (1995–1997)
  • Andrew Welch (1998–2002)
  • Martin Duncan, Ruth Mackenzie and Steven Pimlott (2003–2005)
  • Jonathan Church (2006–2016)
  • Daniel Evans (from July 2016)

Upcoming shows

2019 Season

Festival Theatre

Minerva Theatre

  • This Is My Family by Tim Firth
  • The Deep Blue Sea by Terence Rattigan
  • 8 Hotels a new play by Nicholas Wright
  • Hedda Tesman by Cordelia Lynn, from Henrik Ibsen
  • The Butterfly Lion by Michael Morpurgo, in a new adaptation by Anna Ledwich


  • Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads by Roy Williams

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre Christmas Show

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