Blog: Meet Clarissa and Grace

West Sussex Record Office, University of Chichester, volunteers, archive, Chichester Festival Theatre
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Clarissa and Grace are two of our wonderful volunteers currently working in the archive. They are history students from the University of Chichester and as part of their course they were given the chance to take part in a work placement. They decided it would be beneficial to experience history in the workplace and thought the Pass It On project held at the West Sussex Record Office (in partnership with the Festival Theatre) was the perfect opportunity as they wanted to know how an archive works, what is stored and why. Though they are both working on separate tasks, their involvement in the project “is exciting for the both of us. It has also helped us to get to know Chichester better, and although neither of us are from the city, we now feel like part of the community.”

Clarissa: I’ve been working on sorting through and listing the Christmas productions that were put on at Chichester Festival Theatre each year. This goes back to the early 1970s. I have found it interesting to see what shows were staged over the years and sorting through production files has opened my eyes to how much work goes into putting on a show!

A highlight for me has been coming across the names of great actors, writers and directors who have all worked with and at the theatre. I was not aware of just how many famous names have been attached to the theatre over the years since it started. It’s great to think of Chichester as being associated with so many artists. Grace and I have even had a competition between us to see who can find the most famous person to have visited the theatre! Grace won with original photos of the Queen Mother’s visit to see The Chances. I’ve enjoyed this experience a lot, particularly being involved in a project that the local community can enjoy.

Grace: Rather than working on one specific project I have been spreading my time over various smaller projects, all of which have been really interesting. I’ve spent the majority of my time working through CFT publicity documents, such as pamphlets, production programmes and old photographs, which needed to be looked at, sorted and listed. I found the task really fascinating as it allowed me to see how the theatre has developed, from its first few years as a newcomer to now, a highly praised theatre. Right now I am working through documents from behind-the-scenes that are focused on the running of the theatre, and it’s great to see what it takes to make a theatre function, and how much effort goes into its upkeep! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as a volunteer on the project, so much so that after my work placement ends I am staying on as a general volunteer. I would recommend the experience to anyone!