A Busy Month

It’s been a hectic month at Chichester Festival Theatre, there has been little chance for anyone to sit still for five minutes, and it’s only since the rain that some of the public have come in from the park for the first time in weeks (all looking slightly dazed and sun burnt).

The extraordinary Theatre in the Park stands in Oaklands Park and it is everything we were promised it would be. During the day it has been the perfect outdoor festival hub; during the evening the lights have led us up the park like will-o-the-wisps, towards a blue glow illuminating the white canvas. The experience of the place – the ‘atmos’ as one cameraman was heard to say – is part of the reason to visit. 1,400 people outside in the warm evening air, picnic benches and miles of decking (about eight miles apparently) creates a true summer festival feeling. What a fortnight it has been to be in Chichester. It’s a bit like a dream, one that will end all too soon in October. My advice- come now, and again as often as you can – we probably won’t see anything like this again. 

As the Theatre in the Park enchants us, the Festival Theatre has reached something of a turning point. There is now sufficient space, security and progress for a few lucky individuals to be able to get on site and be shown around. The mysterious site, demurely sheltering behind those hoardings, has been occasionally opened up revealing the most amazing progress! Visitors have said the sense of scale is now really evident – the amount of work that has taken place and the extent of the improvements. This refurbishment and redevelopment will improve the Theatre no matter which side of the stage you are on, whether actor, director, crew, set designer, loyal Friend or casual visitor. The experience of coming to Chichester Festival Theatre will have improved a staggering amount. There are too many individual developments to make a list of them all, so I would encourage everyone to come on an upcoming tour (17 and 31 August – book through the Box Office online or call 01243 781312) to see for yourself. 

The towering ladder and stair scaffold system on the car park side of the Festival Theatre will soon be gone, and work on both new triangular foyer extensions will gather pace. The view of the Festival Theatre will soon become more familiar. 

In the Minerva our insightful new play If Only closed and will be replaced by last year’s fantastic The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (which I would, and do, recommend to everyone). More events are coming up to raise money for RENEW – the Youth Theatre’s brilliant blast through Chichester Festival Theatre’s musical history on 25 August (Lend Us Your Ears) and the resurrection of our much-missed Smörgåsbord and Strawberries around the final Barnum performances on 31 August. 

If last summer was the frantic celebration of this artistic institution’s half-century – the midnight-oil-burning barn dance, this summer is the garden party for 1,400 people. It’s been no less an adventure (and no less work), but a wonderful excursion up into the wilds of Oaklands Park. 

Victor Manley
Campaign Coordinator

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RENEW is being overshadowed

There is a Theatre in the Park. After months of anticipation, suddenly, as if in an instant, we have it. A Theatre in the Park. A beautiful creation, looking like the original plans.

Again the weather has been playing at variations. This morning fog appeared on Oaklands Park and the site looked a little like Atget’s Paris. But not for long – the wind blew it away and the rain sobered up the view. But there is something doggedly optimistic about the Theatre in the Park – even in the drizzle it is summer. Bright and welcoming. 

Although it all looks finished, there is a lot left to be done. Seating and rigging are being installed – the back stage area needs decoration and services; the expansive bar tent is, happily, due to appear; the lights will all be hung and then we may well be ready. Ready to welcome in the set designers and builders, the technicians and crew, Cameron Mackintosh and Timothy Sheader, and the entire cast- to turn our new space into a theatre. And that all must be done in under a month. 

The staff and audience, rather like this blog, have been distracted by the white vision on the hill. It has been very easy to ignore our standard, dependable (if temporarily faded) home behind the hoardings. However there are great strides being made. The roof is being insulated- a membrane added in sections to increase acoustic and thermal performance; there are walls, ceilings and floors for the green room, wardrobe and wigs; ducts and cable are being installed in the auditorium; the holes in the park are being filled – the ground source heat pumps have their soak-aways. The penultimate concrete-pour will soon be happening to create the top floor extensions. The front of the Theatre is finally being treated to a little TLC, the damaged concrete is being stripped back, to be replaced with new colour-matched material. The whole structure will be cleaned so it shines. It will be a dramatic face lift. So by the time Theatre in the Park comes down and our attention turns back down the hill, the Festival Theatre will begin to look 30 years younger.  Let’s hope she’ll take us back.

The Pajama Game has left us on a high swing of cheeriness and high kicking. In its place a very different beast – David Edgar’s thought-provoking If Only, directed by our Associate Angus Jackson. Sandwiched between our two musicals- a show of real power and insight. 

Each month brings new challenges and announcements. The latest is of the triple Tony-winning Broadway legend Frank Langella coming to tackle one of theatre’s most challenging roles, King Lear, in the Minerva; a genuine privilege to see a great modern actor in that most intimate space. Other casting rumours abound. Set design plans are discussed. The summer season roles onwards, and we look forward to the circus… 

Victor Manley
Campaign Coordinator

The weather is no obstacle

As the weather offers glorious heat then gales, localised flooding then flakes of Welsh snow, winter wardrobes are packed up, brought out, added to and then ceremonially burnt, during which a dozen international artists descend on the buildings of Chichester, work in a haze of fumes, and then disappear in a single weekend. After such dizzying activity it is a relief that Osborne maintain their flow of consistent, formidable progress. To arrive each day at Chichester Festival Theatre at the moment is to watch a child reach adulthood in fast forward; each view of the Theatre is a novelty, the speed of development like watching a video montage. 

The Festival Theatre has been a rather forlorn sight until recently. The high-level cladding was stripped away and the auditorium ravaged with the elements; with the removal of everything except the concrete frame, it would have taken the most faithful lover to call the building beautiful. But the cruel skeleton was quickly fleshed-out again – panels have been placed over the gaping holes, and a little civility returns to its aspect. 

Inside the concrete ribs the auditorium is in a state of inhospitable reduction, although a small nomadic bat did create a temporary home for itself behind some panels, but even s/he soon moved on to less industrious quarters. An enormous scaffold – the “bird-cage”- has been erected on the bare seat-rake, supporting a platform within reach of the ceiling: the frame-work from which the rig is hung is being replaced and refurbished. 

The extension has taken on its final shape. The footprint has grown a leg. The concrete is just about to be poured to form the first floor and the supporting walls rise up and up. One can start to see what views will appear from dressing room windows, how first-act entrances will be achieved from backstage, how scenery will be elevated and stored. It’s an exciting time, and change is happening swiftly. 

Aside from RENEW, art has descended on Chichester Festival Theatre. The five star production of The Pajama Game opened during the last week of April and has been a tonic to a gloomy winter. Universally adored, a song and dance marathon, the production has sold-out. Absolutely. Unequivocally. There’s nothing but returns to hope for now, and there are very few of those. Over the early May bank holiday weekend, Chichester was briefly one of the most cutting edge cities in the country. A horde of internationally-acclaimed street artists created a series of staggering artworks on buildings across the city. Chichester Festival Theatre gave up its storage facility on the North Street circular to the artist RUN; Christiaan Nagel placed one of his signature ‘Shrooms’ on the Minerva (the day before the gale force winds drove the Osborne workforce from the Festival Theatre – the Shroom is thankfully still in place); Thierry Noir brought his world-famous faces to our hoardings, familiar to millions when he painted 17km of them on the Berlin Wall. 

Chichester Festival Theatre is both a place of current progress and imminent excitement. A trackway has just been laid from the corner of Broyle Road, branches of it reaching onto the Oaklands Park grass. By the time I next write this blog there will be movement beyond the first line of trees; a workforce constructing a theatre with a fleeter foot; and a grand excitement for a unique experience. In short, Theatre in the Park is coming… 

Victor Manley
Campaign Coordinator

Festival 2013 has begun

Festival 2013 has begun. The lights have been hung, the banners are up and the Theatre is full of actors again. It feels as though spring has woken the monster/princess that is Chichester Festival Theatre. 

On one side of the access road the Minerva hums with excited activity; on the other the controlled, fluent Festival Theatre steadily raises itself out of the earth. No less dramatic, but a slower drama. More Bernard Shaw, less Cole Porter. 

A rather important point has been reached with the build – there is a floor. The concrete was poured and swept across the newly-built basement ceiling in two great swathes. The extent of the basement layout is now absolutely visible, leaving an idea as to what the footprint of the extension will look like. What’s more, the supporting structures for what will be the first floor are reaching upwards, actually extending beyond head-height. We shall all be getting cricks in our necks by looking up at the progress of the first floor from now on, rather than from down into the basement as we have been. 

Inside the auditorium all progress should be labelled ‘infrastructure’. Steelwork is being altered and installed, and most importantly the truss has been attached to the roof, from which will hang the lighting rig. It may not sound particularly exciting, but it is symbolic – a lot has been removed, now things are being put back.

Anyone coming into the Theatre for the new season will be greeted by some attractive new hoardings with visualisations of the refurbished Festival Theatre. And just leaving Oaklands Park is the annual fair – the longest, loudest show in town! However, it certainly gave us all an idea of where Theatre in the Park will sit when it is erected in June (although there the similarities end)- albeit as a far more elegant and welcoming structure. 

Away from RENEW for a moment, the Royal Opera House will be steam-cleaning their red carpet for the Olivier Awards this Sunday (28 April). We’ve have racked up a proud number of nominations this year (13 in total), with several each for Sweeney Todd and Kiss Me, Kate, as well as a nod for Rupert Everett in The Judas Kiss.  Fingers firmly crossed. 

It has been a steady journey towards Festival 2013 and now that it is finally with us, Chichester Festival Theatre feels like an animal coming gratefully out of hibernation. The following months will be full of incidents and events as the great theatrical, critical eye turns toward Chichester once more. And although it can get hot beneath its gaze, goodness me, it has been a long, cold winter.  

Victor Manley
Campaign Coordinator, RENEW project

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Rain, wind and concrete

IMG_9909While there was an open hole at the back of the Theatre, it became commonplace for workmen to arrive on-site and find three metres of water in it. Problems had been expected of this nature, but not of this scale. However, a water pump was put to work and all was back in motion. Now the hole has become a basement. Mud walls have become concrete slabs. The Festival Theatre extension has arrived at ground level – there are such things as walls and ceilings standing where only water-boatmen skimmed so recently. The footprint of the extension is visible – it is all up from here.

The cold has been unpleasant for those of us in offices, let alone all those out on the site every day. Although apparently the concrete is fairly happy about it – concrete arrives pre-warmed to deal with the cold and sets well. Heavy rain and strong winds are far trickier for it, but have as yet been fairly unusual.

As the extension becomes more recognisable, the interior of the Festival Theatre is further stripped away. The auditorium is going back to bones to allow core alterations to take place. Currently holes are being drilled beneath where the refurbished seats will sit, for the new air conditioning system. In the foyer the windows have been knocked out to be replaced with identical, but energy efficient, versions. And from the subterranean to the stellar, the ‘Chichester Festival Theatre’ lettering and attached cladding has been removed. Beneath the ‘new’ 1994 cladding is the original: miscoloured, flaking – it suggests an answer to anyone who might question the RENEW project. Many 1962 features have never been treated, covered or replaced – the original cladding is a reminder of what 50 years of wear and tear looks like, and what each passing month might mean without vital refurbishment.

As part of the plans to make the Theatre ‘green’, boreholes are being dug to the north and south of the Theatre for a system of geothermal heat-pumps. These are underground heating systems utilising the stable temperatures of the earth at around 20 feet below ground level.

RENEW still has a way to go – £1 million. A vital target, and difficult in such fiscally uncertain times, and we will be running all sorts of events over the summer to ask our audience to help us reach our goal. Soon on 1 April at 11am, we’ll be inviting our audience to help us lay a Mile of £1 coins around the Theatre. On 6 April we will be holding a Theatre Quiz in the Minerva Lounge (what was the Brasserie Upstairs), with questions on Chichester Festival Theatre and Theatreland in general. Tickets are available here.

Unrelated to RENEW, but good news nonetheless, there are now new seats in the Minerva Theatre. More comfortable, and with an increased capacity (now at 309). They will be ready for use when The Pajama Game roars into town, with the first preview on 22 April.

RENEW Continues whilst Festival 2013 is Announced

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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.

The build begins….

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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!

A busy month at a quiet Theatre

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This busy month has been punctuated with moments of extreme activity and excitement.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has announced their support of the RENEW project with a major grant of £1.2 million. This generous award will go towards restoring the Grade 2* Festival Theatre (re-insulating and improving the Festival Theatre’s roof, repairing concrete, improving glazing and timber fasciae and re-instating the balcony seats), alongside a three-year community participation programme. Starting in January this extensive project will include archiving, digitisation, a touring exhibition, open days, community performances, traineeships and almost boundless volunteer opportunities. It is an extravagant multi-tiered cake of community engagement and opportunity.

Comley, our demolition contractor, having successfully battled through wind, rain and freezing temperatures, are now tidying up the site. A single mound of earth and broken rock, together with small piles of ferrous metal, await the last skip before Christmas. This is all that is left of the old extensions. It is suddenly easy to see the beauty of the building as a clear statement of the architect’s original  intent – a concrete tent in the middle of a park with the a single purpose of bringing theatre to Chichester. The building suddenly makes sense. It is hard to exercise enough patience to wait and see how the new extension will fit on the back, but the plans look wonderful. 

However RENEW is not the only part of the Theatre buzzing with industry. In London (or ‘Chichester Festival Theatre city’ as it is being re-named) on a single drizzly day in November, Chichester Festival Theatre launched two wonderful shows onto a London audience: 2008’s Goodnight Mister Tom is a welcome change for the Phoenix Theatre, who manfully brushed away the debris left over from 10,000 performances of Blood Brothers in a fortnight; and Festival 2012’s Kiss Me, Kate at the always glamorous Old Vic. Both shows have opened to hugely positive reviews and run well into the new year. Meanwhile Singin’ in the Rain and Yes, Prime Minister continue triumphantly. 

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre (CFYT) and the indefatigable  Learning & Participation Department (LEAP) are making a habit of showing us all up. CFYT West Sussex, the Youth Theatre’s new groups across the county, have been receiving memberships and will begin in January. CFYT have spent the last week sharing short pieces in the Minerva; CFYT Friday (our special needs group) have received funding from West Sussex County Council to make a short documentary about themselves; plans are being developed for a CFYT extension group for those aged 18 and over. There is no rest. 

2013 is clambering over the horizon, with a whole new season of Theatre and events that will make us forget the long winter. The RENEW project will run fluently in the background like the hum of a projector throughout the summer season and indeed, we will still be watching it all take shape a year from now. Although  by then, the prospect of ‘going home’ will be eagerly  anticipated by all the staff, who are already talking of 2014 as ‘the first year back’.

Victor Manley
Campaign Coordinator

Demolition under way

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On 27 October Private Lives drew to a close on an emotional night for the Theatre, and many of us felt a little pang of fearful disbelief at the thought of a cold winter with no Chichester Festival Youth Theatre or incoming touring productions to prop us up. But that is where the Theatre and its vagrant staff find themselves. Vagrant in a very comfortable sense, decamped in the Steven Pimlott building. 

So the hoardings encircle the building and the demolition continues unabated. The most extraordinary aspect of it is the rapid progress. It took a little over two days for the Administration Block to be cleared away, folding beneath the machines like wet cardboard; the Green Room was gone in another two (frost on the roof-tops); most recently, and perhaps most dramatically, the Box Office has been scoured away. The Box Office doors have been heaved from the hinges and the great brown concrete column (for so long the obstruction in front of the Box Office) is now dripping with rain water. Slowly but surely the original hexagon is beginning to reappear- the striking original design re-emerging from half a century of architectural detritus. Next begins the careful removal of the back-of-house areas, which will take close to a week. There is light at the end of the tunnel. 

There is however, no need to take my word for any of this: there is a camera sitting atop the Minerva building transmitting a live stream (available 8am – 4.30pm, Mon – Fri) of the demolition on our website. But be warned, if you start watching the hours will slide by- it is truly compelling stuff. Our online gallery is also up and running, with regular photographic updates from within the J.C.B.’s lair, so to speak.

While there is a great hive of activity on one side of the site, artistically the Festival and Minerva Theatres enter hibernation. But despite an apparent somnambulance, behind the scenes the cogs are whirring; there are whispered conversations in dark corners about contracts, rumours from the internet press about programming. In short, Festival 2013 is drawing closer, and from within the organisation the apparent respite seems purely spectral. Especially to all of those working under the joint banner of CFYT and Learning and Participation, who’s growing programme seems to become busier with every passing day.

Up the A3 in London, Goodnight Mister Tom, a Chichester Festival Theatre co-production from Winter 2010, springs into life at the Phoenix Theatre, while Kiss Me, Kate from Festival 2012 opens at the Old Vic. Singin’ in the Rain and Yes, Prime Minister roll on like juggernauts. ‘CFT’ is dark in Chichester, but we are taking over the capital. 

In the dressing rooms of the Minerva, actors have been replaced with towering piles of books. The RENEW book sale is running on 29 and 30 November, 10am – 4pm, at the Assembly Rooms on North Street, Chichester. A few weeks ago we requested books from our Friends and visitors, and now we have thousands. As ever our audience has come through and we will be able to fill the upstairs Assembly Room with fiction (from Jean-Paul Sartre to Helen Fielding) and non-fiction (from Military Tactics to ‘Why cats paint?’) of any and every variety.  Unfortunately we are now unable to accept any more book donations as we simply do not have the space. However, with the addition of clothing and accessories to the book sale, we are now looking for handbags, scarves and jewellery to sell on the ‘New to You’ stall. Any donations can be left at the Minerva reception.

Despite a theatrical winter suspension, the RENEW project hurries along. There are plans for events being made for the next 12 months, and great generosity is still being shown. Our telephone campaign was a huge success, and we greatly appreciate every donation or every conversation with one of our audience. Balcony seats continue to be sponsored and envelopes continue to hold cheques. The generosity of our Friends and visitors has been quite overwhelming, and though the final target is still a good way off, we are ticking off each milestone.

Victor Manley
Campaign Coordinator

The beginning of RENEW

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As Cleopatra breathed her last dramatic breath and Octavius gave his stirring final speech on 29 September, the audience applauded enthusiastically as they had done all season. However, tonight the show was not quite over. Instead Michael Pennington strode to the front of the stage and in stentorian tones, celebrated the audience, the last fifty years, and all the years to come. This time when the applause rose up it was not for the production – it was for the Theatre.

Since that day the Festival Theatre has been a hive of activity. Out have moved the creative wisps, and in have come the heavy movers and shakers and shifters. The Theatre is being stripped and emptied from top to bottom – fifty years of old cables, creaking deck-chairs, bronze ash-trays, faded photographs, incomprehensible props, rat-eaten materials, redundant signage, bicycle wheels and all other types of theatrical flotsam and jetsam, have all been lifted and sorted (and a fair amount of it gratefully moved on). 

The hoardings have been going up in stages for several weeks, but are now taking the appearance of a siege army – creeping round to meet somewhere in front of the main doors. Their inexorable progress has allowed us all just enough time to steal in to salvage any treasures. Thankfully these green boards are only a temporary menace. When they recede again they will unveil a Theatre reborn. 

Despite all best efforts it became clear that the disruption to site would be too chaotic to allow for a Winter 2012 season. The hope had always been to retain the Minerva even when the demolition reached its most aggressive in November, but it became awfully clear that the mud, noise and chaos would be too much and too close to the Minerva (try and imagine Oscar Wilde and Noël Coward up to their knees in a bog). Thank goodness then for Private Lives, which has given all of us a reason to smile in the rain (for a little longer) and queue up for returns night after night. Surely the winter will disappear like a bad dream with the anticipation of the Pavilion in the Park, and the wonderful madness of Priority Booking to look forward to in early spring. 

By the New Year the landscape will have changed beyond recognition – there are no wrecking balls, but it will be speedy work none-the-less. To maintain a tight grip upon our history (and the creation of new history) we have brought in a photographer to fully document every aspect of this process, from every angle, in all its gory detail. 

The demolition part of RENEW is starting to warm itself up- Demolition Contractors have arrived on site with limitless amounts of ‘no entry’ signs and face masks. Simultaneously the first unromantic but vital part of the RENEW build is on course – the brick structure being built between the Minerva and the car park will house the electric substation and is well on its way to completion.  

We are drawing towards the end of our RENEW phone campaign which has been remarkably successful. To anybody who donated or accepted a call, a huge thank you. We have learnt a great deal about our audience from this process, and with still just under £2 million to raise, the money that has been donated is vital to the success of this project. 

The view is long, but we are moving forwards with this extraordinary project. The last night of Antony and Cleopatra reminded us all that this building is special and more importantly, this building is much-loved.

Victor Manley
Campaign Coordinator