The Festival Theatre’s fixtures and fittings have been removed piece by piece, the old extensions all stripped away (take a look at our recent video) and the building is at the centre of a whirlwind of heavy industry and activity throughout the working day. And yet despite these things, the Festival Theatre itself remains a building of stark drama and vision. From the top of Oaklands Park the structure is still unmistakable and one can only imagine how it will alter as the months pass and the new extension rises from the earth.
Things continue on schedule. The eye-catching external concrete is undergoing preliminary repairs, both structural and aesthetic (part of the Heritage Lottery Fund project to restore the original Grade 2* listed building), the basements have been dug fifteen feet into the ground (watch a time lapse video of this) with the dirt being removed in 250 lorries and the seats and stage have been taken from their theatrical habitat ready for renovation (watch a time lapse video of this). The preliminaries have been achieved and from now on one can imagine a precise ballet of trucks and layers and sections. At least it seems that way sitting so close- the focused professionalism of our construction team, Osborne, is consistently notable.
Although this blog is about RENEW, it would be ignoring ten elephants in the room to not mention Festival 2013. By now the news will have spread far and wide, so there is no need to go into details here, given the dedicated section on the website at cft.org.uk/festival2013. Everyone at Chichester Festival Theatre is excited to share this unique season of theatre. The RENEW project means that access to the Theatre site will be strictly limited until the start of the season. During priority and normal booking periods, please use Northgate car park. The huge amount of site traffic currently arriving and departing the site makes even limited vehicular public access impossible. However on days when we have a production on, access will be available from two hours before each performance to allow for drop-offs.
The list of Chichester Festival Theatre productions in the West End and on tour stretches and grows (see the listings for a full run-down), while a past success, Sweeney Todd, left the WhatsonStage.com Awards seriously weighed down with honours (five of them, to be precise). Singin’ in the Rain also came away with an award for Best Choreography.
The next phase of the building will begin with the steady and almost continuous (for the next few months) deliveries of concrete on-site, and the start of work on the new ground-source heat pumps. Out of its theatrical hibernation, Chichester Festival Theatre will again roll up its sleeves for tickets, bookings and seating plans, the first step towards a new season of extraordinary theatre.