The Southbury Child

Chichester Festival Theatre announces 2022 season highlights

  • Nicholas Hytner and Alex Jennings reuinte for a new Stephen Beresford play – The Southbury Child
  • It’s all about co-pro’s! Chichester teams up with National Theatre, Bridge Theatre

Chichester Festival Theatre has revealed highlights of its new 2022 season, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the acclaimed regional theatre.

Led by Artistic Director Daniel Evans and Executive Director Kathy Bourne, Chichester Festival Theatre opened in 1962 and has continued to produce a range of plays and musicals, some of which have travelled widely from their original home.

The 2022 season includes a brand new play by Chichester based author Kate Mosse based on her bestseller The Taxidermist’s Daughter, which is set in Chichester. The play will premiere in April 2022 directed by Róisín McBrinn, who makes her directorial debut at Chichester.

Alecky Blythe’s new verbatim play Our Generation, which is a co-production with the National Theatre and directed by Daniel Evans, will open the Minerva Theatre’s season.

Other highlights of the 2022 festival include a new play by Stephen Beresford, The Southbury Child, directed by Nicholas Hytner, featuring a cast led by Alex Jennings. The play is a co-production with The Bridge Theatre, and opens in Chichester in June before a London run at the Bridge Theatre. Hytner and Jennings are reuniting in Chichester, returning to the venue for the first time since the mid-1980’s.

In other Chichester news, Daniel Evans’s 2021 production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific is set to come to Sadler’s Wells in London as part of a nationwide tour. The show will star Julian Overnden and Gina Beck, produced by former Chichester artistic director Jonathan Church.

In a press release about the new season, Kathy Bourne and Daniel Evans said: “The prospect of Chichester Festival Theatre’s 60th anniversary season is a truly joyous one. This Theatre, built by the community, for the community, has been at the heart of West Sussex cultural life since its inception. It was here, in 1962, that Laurence Olivier established the nucleus of the National Theatre company that opened at the Old Vic the following year; so it’s especially appropriate that, 60 years on, we begin our Minerva season with a co-production with the National. We are thrilled to be introducing Alecky Blythe’s engrossing verbatim work to Chichester audiences with her new play, Our Generation.”

The full Chichester season will be announced in February.

Book tickets to The Southbury Child at the Bridge Theatre in London

More about the Chichester Festival 2022 Season

The Taxidermist’s Daughter

8 – 30 April 2022, Festival Theatre

A story of retribution and justice, The Taxidermist’s Daughter is a thrilling Gothic mystery set in and around historic Chichester. This world premiere is written by Cicestrian Kate Mosse, based on her No 1 internationally best-selling novel.

Synopsis: 1912. In the isolated Blackthorn House on Sussex’s Fishbourne Marshes, Connie Gifford lives with her father. His Museum of Avian Taxidermy was once legendary, but since its closure Gifford has become a broken man, taking refuge in the bottle. Robbed of her childhood memories by a mysterious accident, Connie is haunted by fitful glimpses of her past. A strange woman has been seen in the graveyard; and a few miles away, at Chichester’s Graylingwell Asylum, two female patients have, inexplicably, disappeared. As a major storm hits the Sussex landscape, old wounds are about to be opened as one woman, intent on revenge, attempts to liberate another from the horrifying crimes of the past.

Writer – Kate Mosse: Kate Mosse’s novels include The Languedoc Trilogy (Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel), The Winter Ghosts and her new historical series, The Burning Chambers and The City of Tears; non-fiction includes An Extra Pair of Hands. She is Founder Director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Founder of the global Woman in History campaign and Visiting Professor in Contemporary Fiction & Creative Writing at the University of Chichester.

Director – Róisín McBrinn: Róisín McBrinn is currently Joint Artistic Director of Clean Break; elsewhere she has directed many productions for theatres including The Abbey and Gate Theatres (Dublin), West Yorkshire Playhouse, Sheffield Theatres, Donmar Warehouse, Bush Theatre and Sherman Theatre.

Our Generation

22 April – 14 May 2022, Minerva Theatre

Alecky Blythe’s engrossing new verbatim play tells the stories of a generation, directed by Daniel Evans, in co-production with the National Theatre.

Created from five years of interviews with 12 young people from all four corners of the UK, Our Generation is a captivating portrait of their teenage years as they journey into adulthood. This funny and moving play is for anyone who is – or has ever been – a teenager.

Writer – Alecky Blythe: Alecky Blythe’s acclaimed verbatim musical London Road premiered at the National Theatre in 2011 and she later adapted it for the 2015 feature film. Her other work includes Little Revolution (Almeida Theatre) and The Riots: In Their Own Words for BBC2.

Director – Daniel Evans: Our Generation will be Daniel Evans’s directorial debut at the National Theatre; as an actor, his work there included Cardiff East, Peter Pan, Troilus and Cressida, Candide and The Merchant of Venice. He is Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre, where his productions include South Pacific, This Is My Family, Quiz and Fiddler on the Roof.

The Southbury Child

13 – 25 June 2022, Festival Theatre Chichester; 1 July – 27 August 2022, Bridge Theatre London

Stephen Beresford’s new play The Southbury Child, directed by Nicholas Hytner with a cast led by Alex Jennings, a co-production with The Bridge Theatre, will open at Chichester in June before its London run.

Synopsis: Raffish, urbane and frequently drunk, David Highland has kept a grip on his remote coastal parish through a combination of disordered charm and high-handed determination. But when his faith impels him to take a hard line with a bereaved parishioner, he finds himself dangerously isolated from public opinion. As his own family begins to fracture and his marriage falls apart, David must face a future that threatens to extinguish not only his position in the town, but everything he stands for.

Writer – Stephen Beresford: Stephen Beresford’s darkly comic new play is an exploration of family and community, the savage divisions of contemporary society and the rituals that punctuate our lives. His work includes The Last of the Haussmans at the National Theatre, an adaptation of Bergman’s Fanny & Alexander for The Old Vic and the BAFTA-winning film Pride.

Star – Alex Jennings: Triple Olivier Award-winner Alex Jennings returns to Chichester to lead the cast. The Southbury Child reunites him with Nicholas Hytner who has previously directed him in Hymn and Cocktail Sticks, Collaborators, The Habit of Art, The Alchemist and The Winter’s Tale (all at the National Theatre) amongst others. His many other credits range from My Fair Lady to Stuff Happens and Hansard at the NT, as well as Hamlet for the RSC. His screen work includes The Crown, The Lady in the Van, The Queen, Victoria, A Very English Scandal and Small Axe: Mangrove.

Director – Nicholas Hytner: Nicholas Hytner also makes a welcome return to Chichester, where he previously directed The Scarlet Pimpernel (with a cast including Alex Jennings) in 1985. Director of the National Theatre from 2003-2015, he is Co-Founder of The Bridge Theatre where his recent work includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Beat The Devil, Bach & Sons and the forthcoming The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage and Straight Line Crazy.

Other creative team: The production will be designed by Mark Thompson, with lighting by Max Narula, sound by George Dennis and casting by Robert Sterne.

The production will run at The Bridge from 1 July – 27 August – Book tickets here >

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📷 Main photo: The Southbury Child

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