As I was working my way through press cuttings released by the Chichester Festival Theatre in 1985, an odd request appeared. The producers of Cavalcade were looking for authenticity on stage. In going the extra mile so to speak, an Edwardian street scene required not only the actors of the human nature but also a monkey. Preferably alive and able to sit on top of a barrel organ in front of a live audience. I was a little taken aback by that revelation as I was unsure how many monkeys still performed this kind of work in 1980’s Britain, let alone if one was available to perform on a daily basis. However, the theatre was determined to find one. If indeed they did, I’d love to know.
It is this kind of weird and wonderful information that can be found within the CFT archive held at West Sussex Record Office, which I have been cataloguing since the beginning of October. The material is held in many boxes, through which I am now spending time going through in detail.
A variety of material has been found in the theatre collection including programmes, posters, newspaper articles, prompt scripts and photographs. All tell the vibrant story of productions and those who performed within them. Laurence Olivier, Derek Jacobi, Alistair Sim, Joan Plowright,Christopher Timothy, Peter Egan, Richard Briers Patricia Hodge, Patricia Routledge and so many others.
It is with great excitement that Pass It On can introduce, not one, but two new members of our team. Harriet Rose will be joining us as the third Trainee working on the project, and Nick Corbo-Stewart will be based at the Record Office as our official Chichester Festival Theatre Archivist.
As the Heritage Activities Team doubles its numbers to the grand total of four, I have the honour of becoming the third Heritage Activities Trainee. My predecessor, Becky, has risen to the position of Heritage Activities Officer and I’m sure will be keeping a watchful eye over me to ensure I maintain her high standards!
Having previously worked with the National Trust creating school courses and family events, I am passionate about helping people access and learn more about our Great British Heritage. I have studied Drama at the University of Winchester and Design for Performance and Events at the University for the Creative Arts, and therefore working with Chichester Festival Theatre on the Pass It On project indulges all my interests.
As I write this I am ending my second day in this role and feel I have only just witnessed the tip of the iceberg of this huge and exciting project. Over the next year I will be working in this newly formed quartet along with all the other members of staff at Chichester Festival Theatre and of course all the great volunteers who help make this project possible. Time to get stuck in.