Blog: Parkland to Performance

Curating the exhibition
Curating the exhibition

Thanks to the hard work of an invaluable team of volunteers Pass It On will soon be exhibiting a collection of documents, photographs and objects from the Theatre’s archive.  Parkland to Performance will open at The Capitol in Horsham on 17 February and then travel around different venues in West Sussex and east Hampshire during 2015 and into 2016.  Curated by a group of eight volunteers, the exhibition has evolved from an archive of 300 boxes, including 1800 folders and countless pieces of paper, into a collection of carefully chosen items that show highlights of the founding of the Theatre and of a number of productions performed at CFT.


Three of our volunteers have shared with us how they became involved in the exhibition strand of Pass It On and their experiences during the process of creating this exhibition.


Uncle Vanya LP, 1962
From the exhibition: Uncle Vanya LP, 1962

As Forest Gump says “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get” and there are times in your life when you say yes to something but you really don’t know what you are letting yourself in for!

I was busy sitting at the laptop at CFT editing the scanned images from the archive, when Sophie said that they needed volunteers to stage an exhibition of some of the artefacts.  So off I trotted to the introduction meeting and twelve months later, here we are, artefacts chosen, designs decided upon and labels sent to the printers, we are poised to erect the installation on the 16 February.

I can’t quite believe that our little group have sifted through the dozens of boxes used to store the treasures from the CFT archives and have managed to whittle them down to what we will show in the exhibition. Discarded are pictures of our heartthrobs, amusing backstage mishaps, wonderful productions of both plays and musicals and tales of 101 amazing people who have made CFT what it is today.

My box of chocolates has been full of scrummy Belgium champagne truffles consisting of having the privilege to look at the entire CFT archive including costumes, set designs and amazing photos. I also got to read some hilarious show reports and work with the great Pass it on team both staff and volunteers. My strawberry cream moment (I hate strawberry creams), well I don’t think there was one!

Margaret Todd

IMG_8463 v2
From the exhibition: Grapes of Wrath Truck, 2009

I have loved the theatre all my life so when I heard that the Pass It On Project were looking for volunteers I applied immediately.  I met a very sweet girl, who was the Heritage Activities Trainee and we had a long chat about what sort of things were planned for the volunteers.  She was interested in my ‘theatrical background’! I came away from the theatre really pleased and looking forward to hearing what was planned.  Unfortunately I had a serious accident soon after – but as soon as I felt confident enough to ‘join in’ I went to the next meeting and  this was when I got involved in the exhibition.  Of the eight of us I’m certainly the oldest and the youngest I imagine is straight from university.  We have been meeting fortnightly with the three Heritage girls  ‘in charge’- Sophie, Becky and Harriet have been wonderful. Every aspect of the exhibition has been discussed and we have been able to make the decisions – guided by the girls. It has been a great experience – interesting and informative and great fun.  Hopefully we have brought the exhibition to a successful conclusion.

As the oldest in the group I have never been treated as an ‘aged’ member or made to feel ‘out of place’. I have really enjoyed the experience and hope that I shall be able to become involved in something similar in the future.

Jenny Hoggard

Printing block with image of theatre
From the exhibition: Printing block with image of theatre

A Window on the Past…… Having been coming to CFT every year since it opened in 1962 (no, not every production!), the most exciting thing for me being involved in researching for the ‘Parkland to Performance’ Exhibition has been re-living the past – my past.  Searching through the archives revealed programmes, photographs and comments on every performance – some I’d long forgotten – so I was able to re-visit/re-live many productions and remember actors/actresses no longer with us.  Each box produced a new ‘gem’ and our difficulties lay in what to include and what to omit.  But we hope this Exhibition will enlighten and encourage you to continue supporting CFT for many years to come – thereby building up a store of memories of your own.

Beryl Fleming