It seems a long while since the last update and rather a lot has happened. Christmas and New Year halted RENEW’s progress for a little while, but it was heartening to come back on-site for 2013 and find our main contractor, Osborne, already present and at work. We have passed the £21 million mark for pledges to RENEW, leaving a vital £1 million left to raise. Various events and a raffle for a wonderful 5-star exotic holiday will be running throughout 2013, so there are still plenty of opportunities to support.
At the very beginning of 2013, and once Osborne had made themselves at home on-site, the first third of the project began- namely everything that will occur below ground-level. Amid much boyish excitement from certain members of staff about diggers and cranes, the gargantuan piling rig appeared. In the simplest terms the piling rig, a cross between a crane and an enormous power drill, has been creating incredibly deep, concrete-filled holes, which will provide vital foundation support.
Once that is completed, 250 lorries will arrive on site (in the space of a week!) to clear away dirt currently filling what will become the basement. It may not be clean and glamorous, but this activity is essentially the bones of what will become the new Festival Theatre.
It took the largest snowfall since 2010 to bring proceedings to a brief stop, although fortunately it was only for a day, and the work now continues apace. There are plenty of ways to stay right up to date with all that’s happening on site: check out our live web-cam of proceedings, or watch the brand-new, second in our series of RENEW videos.
Next on the agenda is the Festival Theatre auditorium. In the coming weeks the stage and seats will all be removed in order to be refurbished. The auditorium will then be at its most bare- furthest from its usual activity of housing actors, sets, crew, tech, an orchestra, front of house, box office, 1,200 audience members plus change.
It is probably unsurprising that access to the Theatre site is limited to foot-traffic with absolutely no vehicular access from Broyle Road. However the Box Office and Reception are still plugging away in their alternative surroundings in the Minerva.
RENEW’s terrifically exciting Heritage Activities Programme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund is gearing up. As I write this our brand-new Heritage Activities Manager, Sophie Shaw, has arrived at her post. Sophie will be overseeing our fascinating 3-year programme of heritage participation and discovery. Please look out for more information in the coming months at cft.org.uk.
Away in London, theatre from Chichester maintains its exceptional run. Kiss Me, Kate continues at The Old Vic until the 2 March; Goodnight Mister Tom closes at The Phoenix on 26 January before striding off across the country, touring until April; and the wonderful Singin’ in the Rain is now booking through spring, summer and autumn 2013. The critically acclaimed Judas Kiss at the Duke of York’s, a Chichester Festival Theatre co-production, has bolstered our already handsome representation in the West End running until 6 April. And finally, Yes, Prime Minister embarks on a four month tour having just completed its third successful West End run.
The new summer season is moving into view. The Festival Pavilion has been ordered, to-scale circles were temporarily sprayed on Oaklands Park showing its proposed location, and a huge buzz spreads from the Theatre about this extraordinary new space. The Minerva will continue as usual. Look out for news in February!