News Story

Cast your mind back to our 60th anniversary last year: we came up with a fun list of 60 things to do in and around Chichester, to make it a year to remember. One of our long-standing and staunchest supporters, Katherine, took on the challenge; here's how she got on...

’60 things to do in our 60th year’. How could I resist the challenge in the Friends’ leaflet? I’d done 50 for the 50th. This time, though, I decided against the tabard with its colour-coded badges.

I ruled a piece of A4 paper into 12 x 5 boxes and started to fill them in with the summer season shows. I was going to see them all, so that was 11 squares. Nearly one-fifth sorted already! Top favourite show was Crazy for You (tap dancing, show girls, spectacle, the inexhaustible Charlie Stemp), followed by Our Generation and Local Hero.

Next it was the pre-show talks and post-show discussions. Greg (my husband) and I managed all but one of the former, so that was another 10 squares. We went to most shows on press night (we like the atmosphere), but there were some shows that we just didn’t enjoy enough to warrant the effort of leaving the house at around 10pm on the post-show discussion evenings, and others where we were away, so in the end we only went to two. That was the relatively ‘easy wins’, which took me up to 23 – only just over one-third. Reaching 60 was no longer looking easy.

I was on the Commissioning Circle for Crazy for You (CFY), and Greg for The Taxidermist’s Daughter (TTD) and Local Hero. Contributing to my 60 were a director’s briefing, two technical rehearsals, a dress rehearsal, a TTD walk led by Kate Mosse on Fishbourne marshes (where I heard my only cuckoo of the year), CFY supporters’ night, and CFY post-show party (with CFT birthday cake). The party also provided an opportunity to visit the photo booth. I love the Theatre Days which Louise Rigglesford runs – 90 fascinating minutes of insights – and attended both of this year’s (TTD and CFY).

I work at West Sussex Record Office, which holds the CFT archive. Among the year’s visits were CFT’s Senior Management Team, the Development department, and Youth Advisory Board. Everyone enjoyed looking through an assortment of CFT material and we hope more departments, and the Board, will be able to visit the Record Office in the future.

Also on the work front, Jenny and I recorded the recollections of Eileen Norris who had worked at CFT in the 1960s; I gave a brief presentation about the archives to the CFT Friends tea party; attended Helena Berry’s pen pals’ presentation to CFT Friends; and visited ‘The Art of Chichester’ exhibition at The Novium, which includes quite a number of CFT items loaned from the Record Office.

The Chichester Festival Youth Theatre (CFYT) alumni concert was inspirational, the Festival Fridays film presentation was moving, and Game Changer provided me with the opportunity to play a video game.

There were the digital ‘things’: Visionary Stages, Digital Diorama, YouTube birthday wishes, Your Dream, a tour of the theatre site, a virtual tour (with headset), listening to a podcast, and – when I started to get desperate to reach 60 – reading the whole of the CFT website.

Random ‘things’ throughout the year comprised: standing in the middle of Northgate car park on Sunday 3rd July to sing ‘Happy birthday’ to CFT; sitting in a deck chair, and later throwing darts in the King George pub before Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads; introducing a young colleague from work to the theatre before a pre-show talk (she particularly liked the welcoming foyer area); the Friends’ CFY backstage tour and tea; eating the children’s tea with my nine year old god-daughter and her family (the blueberry candyfloss was very popular); and wandering round Chichester enjoying the audio and looking for answers to the Riddles and Codes sheets (and noticing all the family groups who were on the same mission. We even returned our pencils to the team).

I’ve been on the Commissioning Circle for every show Dale Rooks has done (2010 was the first) because I admire her work with CFYT. 2022’s The Wind in the Willows was another great show, with everyone – no matter how large or small their part – working brilliantly together. The director’s briefing – including a chance to hear a dozen of the company sing a ‘ditty’ and for us to look at some of the costume designs – and the show itself brought my total to 60. We stayed behind after the show to take a photo recording my achievement, holding a repurposed birthday card.

In the end, the ‘60 things’ spread across the whole year, from January to December. It’s been great fun, and made me try things I probably wouldn’t otherwise have done. What are the chances of my doing ’70 things’ in ten years’ time? You’ll just have to wait and see!