On Wednesday 25 June, 60 eager people gathered at the Library in Chichester to hear from Simon Barker, Head of English and Creative Writing at Chichester University. An English Professor and Theatre historian, Simon had been the first professional researcher to be granted access to the Theatre’s emerging archive and we were all looking forward to finding out what he had selected to share with us.
And a wide range of insightful items it was; photographs and documents dating back to when the Theatre was first built, internal memos about what local buildings had been found for rehearsal spaces and correspondence from some of the more bizarre places from which the Theatre has, in the past, borrowed its props (see image). Records from more recent pieces of theatre, such as the prompt bible from the 2007 Macbeth, gave insight into more current theatre practice and many were amazed at just how much planning and detailed work goes into every production.
What also emerged was a sense of how rich a resource this archive is and why it’s so important to preserve it. We hope very much that this event marks the start of an excellent relationship between the University of Chichester and the Theatre’s archive as there is a wealth of new research there for our local students to dive into.
Hear from Simon about the Chichester Festival Theatre archive in this interview with Spirit FM.