Acting graduates win place on Chichester Festival Theatre's programme for emerging artists

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Four acting graduates from the University of Chichester are among the first recipients of a programme for emerging local artists by the Chichester Festival Theatre (CFT).

OnTheNose productions is a comedy feminist group by Maddie Bell, Esther Dracott, Emily Benucci and Hollie Jameson-Clarke, who delve into topics such as gender expectations, toxic masculinity and teens girls’ insecurities.

The group will receive funding and support from the CFT in the first round of Artist Development Programme.

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The programme coincides with the arrival of a new Artistic Director, Justin Audibert, working alongside Creative Associate, Sophie Hobson, and offers tailored support to artists developing their skills, helping them to make connections to other industry professionals and develop a creative project.

OnTheNose Productions (Credit: Wooden Arrow Productions/Zoe Birkbeck).OnTheNose Productions (Credit: Wooden Arrow Productions/Zoe Birkbeck).
OnTheNose Productions (Credit: Wooden Arrow Productions/Zoe Birkbeck).

The members of OnTheNose graduated from the University of Chichester in 2023, and produced their first piece 60 minutes of mood swings, as part of their final year studies, before taking it to Brighton and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals and receiving five-star reviews.

Esther said: “The new show we are developing with CFT explores boyband culture, the fangirl attention surrounding it, and what boybands can represent within the patriarchy. We will become the boyband through drag and incorporate elements of live concert performance throughout the piece. Our tagline is: 'If you can't beat them...become them.'

“We have already gained loads from the CFT programme. We feel honoured to have been selected, and privileged that it is in the creative home of OnTheNose, around the corner from the University, where it all began.

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“The University has been brilliant in helping our professional development in the increasingly difficult climate of the performing arts industry. The acting course and theatre department gave us the freedom to explore our creative potential as artists, not only as actors but also as theatre-makers, musicians and feminists. The constant support we had from lecturers and supervisors was truly unique. We have had continued support since leaving which has eased our transition into the professional industry.”

Full cohort for the Artist Development Programme at CFT with Sophie Hobson and Justin Audibert.Full cohort for the Artist Development Programme at CFT with Sophie Hobson and Justin Audibert.
Full cohort for the Artist Development Programme at CFT with Sophie Hobson and Justin Audibert.

Dr Ben Francombe, Head of Theatre at Chichester Conservatoire, said: "The Artist Development Programme at the CFT is a really exciting project, reflecting the tireless support the theatre can give to emergent artists. We are delighted that our recent graduates have been given this opportunity to build up their excellent first show, produced as part of their studies with us: they are such an enthusiastic, creative and dedicated company and I can't wait to see what they do next."

Sophie Hobson, Creative Associate at Chichester Festival Theatre, said: “Chichester Festival Theatre has launched a pilot Artists Development Programme for five early career individuals and companies, who will follow a part-time 10-month programme that develops their skills, makes vital connections to other industry professionals, and delivers a small creative project that will add to their emerging portfolio of work.

“One of the companies chosen is OnTheNose Productions, all recent graduates from Chichester University. Chichester Festival Theatre are excited to enable opportunities for recent graduates and local artists as part of the programme and look forward to working with OnTheNose Productions throughout the following year.”

For more on the University of Chichester’s acting courses, visit: