1980: Terra Nova
The 1980 season is remembered for the epic production of Ted Tally's critically-acclaimed Terra Nova.
Telling the story of Captain Scott’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition, the production included a dramatic snow-covered set - the brainchild of world-renowned designer Pamela Howard. Terra Nova is the only play in the Theatre’s history in which the stage crew have worn white.
Despite being one of the productions remembered most fondly and vividly by CFT audiences and staff, the bookings for Terra Nova were low. This was perhaps a reflection on the times; it has been suggested that whimsical London musicals such as Cats and Starlight Express were such huge successes at the time because the British public wanted to see escapism over tragedy.
Pamela Howard's set was stark, dramatic but simple, made of folds of white cloth to look like snow and ice drifts, and the actors would just appear from behind them pulling sleds which were three-quarter-size mock-ups of originals, made as much as possible from the same materials, and the clothing was just like the originals too. It was a really hot summer, but people were sitting there shivering: that's how good it was.
A member of the crew, quoted in Chichester Festival Theatre at Fifty