On Monday 7th August 2017 20 members of BRWI plus a daughter and 4 husbands arrived at the Chichester Festival Theatre for our ‘Behind the Scenes Tour’. Having been suitably refreshed with coffee from the theatre cafe, we were introduced to our 2 guides-Richard and Joe as well as 2 volunteer helpers.
We were given a brief history of the theatre-the original theatre having been built in 1962. Local individuals and businesses had raised the £105,000 needed. It was the first modern theatre with a thrust stage arranging the auditorium around the stage. The RENEW project designed to restore and upgrade the theatre was launched in 2012. It was completed in July 2014 at a total cost of £22 million.
Dividing into 2 groups, we were shown all around the backstage areas walking along the corridors lined with large pictures of famous actors from previous productions. We visited the technical areas, which change for each production. We were all fascinated by the Wardrobe housing all the costumes for the current production of Fiddler on the Roof, which most of us had seen. (We saw Omid Djalili’s trousers hanging on a rail) One corridor had all the dressing rooms with the names of the actors using them on the doors. Each dressing room was identical-no special treatment for the stars of the show. Behind the stage we saw all the props needed for each performance-the candle sticks, suitcases, masks for the ghost scene, crates of pretend food, barrows.
And then the highlight of the tour. We were invited onto the stage itself with all the theatre lights shining onto us. Very special. Standing on stage, you seemed so close to the audience.
Finally as we made our way back to the foyer, we were shown a specially designed window on the south side of the theatre through which we could see the towering spire of Chichester Cathedral. Another Chichester icon.
Everyone agreed that this had been an excellent visit-so informative. Next time we go to see a production at CFT, we will know exactly what is going on ‘Behind the Scenes.
For more photos please click here