Some of you may remember an exhibition that was held in 2012 at Pallant House Gallery to coincide with the Theatre’s 50th anniversary. Many of those who attended this exhibition commented on the creative display of ephemera from the Theatre’s history, including old programmes and set designs. In 2015, a new exhibition all about the history of Chichester Festival Theatre will tour several venues across West Sussex, though this time, the entire exhibition will be researched, curated and designed by Pass It On volunteers.
Last week we held our first session to introduce our prospective volunteers to the challenge of creating a modular and interactive exhibition. The exhibition will provide new insight into the inner workings of Chichester Festival Theatre, using items from our archive and memorabilia collection. We’ll also have access to archive footage from the 1960s and audio clips taken from the interviews we’ve been collecting as part of our oral history strand. This allows for interactive possibilities and we’re even planning on running special events and activities during the exhibition’s stay at each venue.
We started the introductory session by going through why we’ll be running the exhibition and then showed some pictures and footage of each of our venues. The venues will follow the same geographical pattern as the CFYT West satellite groups that form part of the Chichester Festival Youth Theatre: The Capitol in Horsham, The Spring in Havant, Littlehampton Museum and Midhurst Museum before arriving in Chichester at the Novium. The venues vary in shape and size, so it’s really important that the exhibition is flexible and can be changed to fulfil its potential in each space.
After going through the logistics, we brought out a selection of items from the archive for our volunteers to browse through, including photographs, prompt scripts, costume bibles and show reports. We all commented on the extraordinary ‘human’ touch that each item has – for example, the nicknames given to each scene in the Macbeth (2007) prompt script (‘Macbeth gets the point’, ‘Better the Devil You Know’ and ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ to name but a few).
Our exhibition volunteers have now been left with the task of visiting any exhibition of their choice, evaluating certain elements about their experience. They’ll also be diving head first into the published accounts of the Theatre’s history, reading both books by Theatre founder, Leslie Evershed-Martin (The Impossible Theatre and The Miracle Theatre) and Kate Mosse’s Chichester Festival Theatre at Fifty.
Would you like to join the exhibition team? Email us at [email protected] to find out more.