News Story

We spoke with Paul Goddard, a regular here at CFT and also an Access Forum Member.

Paul often visits with his guide dog Stevie and we were delighted when he agreed to share a little about their experiences of access at the Theatre.

The Chichester Festival Theatre building with a sunset in the background.

Let's introduce you...

Hello, my name is Paul Goddard and I have been coming to see shows at CFT since 2011.

My first show was Sweeney Todd with Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton. I was right up in the Gods and couldn't really see anything, but as it was a musical, it didn't overly matter.

At this performance, I was told about the audio description service, touch tours, and audio brochure, and I've never looked back since!

Sweeney Todd (Michael Ball) holds Mrs Lovett (Imelda Staunton) roughly with a cut throat razor in his hands. She looks terrified and he gazes menacingly into the distance.

How does the access provision at CFT help you / what impact does it have on your enjoyment of a visit?

I have been fortunate enough to see shows in the provinces, in the West End and on Broadway, and the provision at CFT is second to none.

I live very near to Tunbrige Wells, so it is a long journey to and from the Theatre, but it is worth it as I am looked after from the time I enter the foyer to the moment that I leave after a show.

Without the audio brochure, access booking line, audio description, and touch tours, I would not visit the theatre as it would be inaccessible for me and not very enjoyable. I also have a guide dog called Stevie, and he is looked after superbly by the front of house staff or the stage door keeper. As much as Stevie and I are part of the CFT family, CFT have become an important part of my family too.

An usher holds an audio description headset in her hands as she passes it to a user.

Would you recommend visiting CFT?

Without hesitation!

What’s your favourite show and why?

Goodness, there are so many! I think Way Upstream by Alan Ayckbourn where the stage was transformed into a river with a boat! The only downside was that my previous guide dog, Wanda, wanted to jump in and swim!

A white boat sits at a riverbank. Light streams in blue and white through trees behind it.

What does being an access list member mean?

That I don't have to worry about getting the right seats, fight with technology to book them, the Theatre have got to know me by name and my needs, and I am looked after so wonderfully, and Stevie too!

Would you advise being an access list member to others?

Yes, definitely. There are many benefits from help with booking tickets to the great discounts as well as being welcomed as an integral part of the Theatre. The provisions are there, so take great use of them.

Stevie:  a yellow labrador guide dog wearing his harness at Stage Door.