1965: Peter Shaffer

From 1963-5, led by Sir Laurence Olivier, a number of CFT productions were being staged at both Chichester and The Old Vic, which was the National Theatre’s home until its dedicated building on London’s South Bank opened in 1976.

These years saw a number of new plays at Chichester including two world premieres by the young playwright Peter Shaffer: The Royal Hunt of the Sun, with Robert Stephens, in 1964 and, the following year, Black Comedy starring Albert Finney and Maggie Smith.

The Royal Hunt of the Sun is widely considered one of CFT's greatest productions, and the first time the CFT stage was used to its fullest potential. In 2014, a celebration of Peter Shaffer's work included rehearsed readings, special events and productions took place across the season. This included a Festival Theatre production of Amadeus starring Rupert Everett and Jessie Buckley. Explore the productions below.

I remember the stunning set - gasps and applause from the audience when each set was as stunning as the last.

Audience member Beryl Fleming recalls The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1964)

The Royal Hunt Of The Sun by Peter Shaffer 1964 Image: Angus McBean
The Royal Hunt of the Sun by Peter Shaffer 1965 Image: Angus McBean

Maggie Smith In Black Comedy 1965 Image: Angus Mc Bean
Production Photograph Albert Finney and Sir Derek Jacobi in Black Comedy 1965 Image: Angus Mc Bean