Chichester Festival Theatre has announced that due to the likelihood of social distancing continuing for several months all shows in its 2020 season have now been cancelled.
This is the first time in the festival’s 58 year history that no performances will take place. If circumstances change, a ‘revised shorter programme of work’ may be considered in the Autumn. Two of the venue’s highly anticipated productions, The Unfriend starring Amanda Abbington, Reece Shearsmith and Frances Barber and South Pacific with Julian Ovenden and Gina Beck, have been rescheduled for 2021.
Kathy Bourne and Daniel Evans, executive and artistic director respectively, said: “We are devastated that for the only time in Chichester Festival Theatre’s history, no Festival performances will take place this year. We had been hoping to be able to produce at least some Festival 2020 shows in the summer and autumn; but all the indications from government point to social distancing being in place for many months to come, as the country continues its vital fight against coronavirus while protecting the NHS.
“At this unprecedented time, with the full support of the Trustees, we feel this is the most responsible course of action we can take in order to ensure the future resilience of our organisation as well as protecting our staff, artists and audiences.
“We are currently considering a revised shorter programme of work from Autumn 2020, including Pinocchio over the Christmas period, and are working on a new schedule for 2021 which we hope will include some of the planned Festival 2020 shows, in addition to South Pacific and The Unfriend. All ticket holders will be contacted by our box office with the option of exchanges, credits, refunds or donations in good time.
“We are determined to stay connected to our audiences through our learning, education and participation activities and online streaming, and to continue the initiatives we have implemented which support our community (such as our partnership with the Chichester Scrub Hub, lending our accommodation to the NHS and helping UK Harvest with food deliveries). We are immensely grateful to our supporters and sponsors who have stayed with us during this hugely challenging period; and to the many people who have sent us good wishes and donations. We are living for the moment we can reopen our doors, gather together and make some theatre.”
Chichester Festival Theatre’s free online streaming initiative includes Flowers For Mrs Harris (until 8 May), the musical stage adaptation of David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang (until 29 May) and their Youth Theatre production of Beauty and The Beast (available 21 May – 19 July).