Justin Audibert named new Chichester Festival Theatre artistic director

Chichester Festival Theatre have appointed Justin Audibert as their new Artistic Director.

He succeeds Daniel Evans, who is off to run the Royal Shakespeare Company with Tamara Harvey.

Audibert is currently Artistic Director of the Unicorn Theatre in London, and also works as a freelance writer and director.

He takes up his new post in July 2023, working alongside Chichester’s Executive Director Kathy Bourne.

At the Unicorn, Justin directed productions including Pinocchio, Marvin’s Binoculars and The Canterville Ghost, with The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Stiles and Drewe coming up in March 2023. He has also directed for companies including the RSC, the National Theatre, Wilton’s Music Hall and Southwark Playhouse, and is a writer with credits including Marvin’s Binoculars and Anansi The Spider.

In 2012 he was the recipient of the Leverhulme Award for Emerging Directors from the National Theatre Studio and was one of The Guardian’s 12 Theatre Stars for 2020. He is a trustee of Headlong, Invisible Flock, and the Peggy Ramsay Foundation, and is on the Advisory Council for the Children’s Touring Partnership and the Cultural Learning Alliance. 

Justin was appointed by a team that was led by Chair of Chichester Festival Theatre, Mark Foster, and Board members Harry Matovu KC, Mike McCart, Holly Mirams, Caro Newling OBE and Stephanie Street, with advice from the director Dominic Cooke. The process was observed by Neil Darlison from Arts Council England.

Chichester’s acclaimed Summer production of Crazy For You is transferring into the West End later this year, playing the Gillian Lynne Theatre from 24 June 2023 starring Charlie Stemp.

What They Said

Mark Foster, Chair of Chichester Festival Theatre, said in a press statement: “I am delighted to confirm Justin Audibert as our next Artistic Director. After meeting a very impressive longlist and shortlist of candidates, we were in no doubt that Justin’s experience in making theatre for audiences of all ages in venues large and small, together with his creativity, energy and enthusiasm, make him an outstanding choice to take Chichester Festival Theatre into its seventh decade. As well as being one of the UK’s most admired directors, he shares our values and our commitment to the vital importance of community, diversity and inclusion. We warmly welcome him to the CFT family and look forward with great anticipation to the vision and leadership he will bring to Chichester.”

Justin Audibert said, “I am so excited to be joining Kathy Bourne and the wonderful team at Chichester Festival Theatre. It is an organisation that creates brilliant, innovative productions with inspirational artists that delight audiences in Chichester, across the UK and around the world. In addition to the magic that is created on its stages is the ground-breaking work CFT does in communities through their Learning, Education and Participation department. Being able to combine those two huge passions of mine and lead such a dynamic team makes this my dream job, and I am honoured to have been appointed the new Artistic Director by Mark and the Trustees.  Whilst this is a wonderful opportunity for me it is, of course, tinged with the sadness of leaving the Unicorn Theatre. I want to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to the entire team at the Unicorn who have given and taught me so much. It is a unique and joyful organisation and I look forward to cheering it on and watching it grow and thrive under my successor. Lastly, on a personal note, Chichester holds a very special place in my heart. As a child we used to holiday in this beautiful area and I have a deep abiding affection for the stunning countryside and friendly people of West Sussex. I cannot wait to get to know them better as we create the next chapter in Chichester Festival Theatre’s illustrious history.”

Kathy Bourne, Executive Director, said: “Justin’s shared understanding that our work off stage for all members of our community and young people stands equal with our outstanding work on stage, aligns perfectly with CFT’s vision and values. His verve and dynamism are a great fit for CFT and will ensure that we continue to deliver ambitious, exciting work of the highest quality. I’m so looking forward to welcoming him to the team at Chichester.’”

Daniel Evans, who leaves Chichester at the end of April, said: “I am beyond thrilled by Justin’s appointment. Not only has he run the Unicorn Theatre with innovation and ingenuity, but he has also in recent years directed acclaimed productions on our national stages in London and Stratford. He is a thoughtful, dynamic and compassionate leader. I will continue to oversee the Festival 2023 season while beginning my new role at the RSC and handing over to Justin, and I know he will enjoy the same warmth and support from our audiences, artists, staff, supporters and communities as I received when I arrived. More than anything, I wish him the very best and I’m excited to see how he advances the journey of the brilliant CFT.”

📷 Main photo: Justin Audibert

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