2000: Community Productions
The Millennium season opened with a community production of The Barchester Chronicles, requiring a huge involvement from local people in Chichester and the surrounding areas. Hundreds offered their services - singing, building, painting, leafleting, sewing - even the lead roles were taken by local amateurs. The production evoked memories of CFT's other community productions, whose epic undertakings reinforced the Theatre's connection with the local community, so crucial from its conception. These included:
1985 Noël Coward’s Cavalcade which included 200 local amateurs, fondly known as "Calvacaders"
1986 The Spershott Version, a promenade retelling of Chichester's plague history
1989 Victory! featuring a procession from Chichester Cathedral to the Theatre
1992 Coriolanus in which a community company acted alongside Kenneth Branagh, Richard Briers, Judi Dench and Iain Glen
2002 The Devil's Dancing Hour about the English Civil War
2004 Dr Faustus, a striking promenade production between Chichester Cathedral and the Minerva.
I remember standing on stage during the technical rehearsal, trying to keep over a hundred people dressed for the opening funeral scene happy while we sorted out yet another problem with the revolve. And one elderly woman said: 'Do you know, Andy, I've never been on a stage before and look at me now!" That was a humbling moment - a reminder that we have to share this amazing resource, this amazing theatre, with everyone, whoever they are and whatever their experience.
Andy Brereton, then CFT Education Director, on The Barchester Chronicles