2021: Evolving Industry
CFT reopened its doors after the pandemic with some new initiatives, on the backdrop of a changing industry. The summer musical, South Pacific, directed by Daniel Evans and a cast led by Julian Ovenden and Gina Beck was originally planned in summer 2020 but postponed to 2021. Due to her pregnancy Gina Beck created and opened the role of Nellie Forbush and then, shared the role with Alex Young, in a progressive move that made headlines.
Elsewhere, with an increasing commitment to its green strategy, CFT became the first theatre to offer audiences the chance to carbon-offset their car journey in partnership with UK social enterprise Ecologi, and began planting trees in place of first night cards and gifts. To mark COP26, the Theatre invited the Chichester community to create a giant human sign spelling the word COMMIT.
In June 2022, the Theatre received the Gold Award for Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism in the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, celebrating the best of the country’s tourism industry. The Theatre also continued to push boundaries with its programming, bringing the late Andrea Levy's novel The Long Song to the Festival Theatre stage - a confronting story exploring the last days of slavery in British-ruled Jamaica, told through the eyes of spirited survivor July.
COMMIT, Oaklands Park 26 October 2021
CFT Green Committee
Ecologi Tree Planting
Gold Award for Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism (VisitEngland)
South Pacific by Rodgers and Hammerstein
I’m hoping their [CFT's] trailblazing attitude will spread across the industry to create a future which accommodates those women who want to start a family. When carrying my first child, I became unemployable and unpaid for six months of my pregnancy because I looked, well, pregnant. Like most women, I wasn’t unable to work during this time, but because of some of the industry’s more conventional attitudes, financial pressures greatly impacted my choice to return to work when my daughter was just 4 months old.
The Long Song by Andrea Levy
Adapted by Suhayla El‑Bushra formerly writer in residence at the National Theatre Studio and whose work includes The Suicide (NT), Arabian Nights (Lyceum, Edinburgh), and Channel 4’s Ackley Bridge
Bold and brilliant. Chichester’s take on Andrea Levy’s novel refuses to compromise – and the result is phenomenal.
Tara Tijani and Llewella Gideon are superb in this unblinking portrait of dignity amid moral horror.