In the summer of 2013 we began collecting personal stories and recollections about Chichester Festival Theatre from many of the people that have shaped its history. This has involved personal interviews and public memory collection events which have largely been performed by a team of skilled volunteers. As of July 2015 we have collected 49 oral history interviews and 93 audio memories from members of the public. Trained volunteers also transcribe and summarise these interviews to ensure they are an easily accessible resource and have completed over 50 transcriptions and 33 summaries of the oral history interviews.
We have been working closely with oral historian Rib Davis on this project, who has trained the volunteers in professional interviewing, transcribing and summarisation techniques.
We are now able to share extracts from these interviews. Our exhibition Parkland to Performance features a number of oral history clips sharing memories on past productions and people’s impressions of the thrust stage. Our Playboxes lets students listen to personal accounts of and by important people who have influenced the Theatre. You can also listen to an ever-growing selection of exclusive clips on our digital archive by clicking here.
The work to transcribe and summarise these accounts is important as they can also be added to our archive and digital database. As such, we have another team of volunteers working to complete these transcriptions and summaries which provide a complex and in-depth overview of the Theatre’s heritage.
Alongside our trained volunteers, several members of the Chichester Festival Youth Theatre have also volunteered their services as our ‘Memory Collectors’. Armed with dictaphones, we’ve send them out to various events and locations to interview the public during productions at Theatre on the Fly, ex-youth theatre members at their 2014 reunion, and even backstage to interview the 2014 cast of Stevie.
Read more about the importance of Memory Collection.