Lots of directors new to Chichester Festival Theatre this summer

Four directors new to Chichester Festival Theatre will be behind four of the five productions coming up this summer.

Daniel Evans, Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre. Photo by Tobias Key
Daniel Evans, Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre. Photo by Tobias Key

CFT artistic director Daniel Evans – who directs South Pacific, the summer season opener – said it was all part of the supporting the industry’s freelancers after an exceptionally difficult year.

The Long Song, a new adaptation by Suhayla El-Bushra based on Andrea Levy’s novel will directed by Charlotte Gwinner; and The Flock by Zoe Cooper will be directed by Guy Jones

Rachel O’Riordan directs Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen Of Leenane in a co-production with Lyric Hammersmith Theatre; and Home by David Storey will be directed by Josh Roche.

“Rachel and Charlotte are mid-career directors and the support for these kinds of people in the middle of their careers is really important. Some people have fallen between the cracks during this last year because they are not eligible for self-employment support.

“But it is also great to have Guy and Josh who are just starting out. They might just have a small body of work behind them, but already they have made a great track record for themselves and it is very exciting to be able to introduce them to our audiences.”

Josh’s production of Home by David Storey will be the final play in the Minerva season, running from October 8-November 6. Storey’s award-winning 1970 play has become a modern classic – a heart-rendingly funny, haunting and deeply humane study of hearts, minds and England, Daniel says.

In a neglected garden, small talk oscillates between the weather, the neighbours, reminiscences of friends and family and anecdotes of past exploits in love and war. But this quintet of characters, Harry, Jack, Marjorie, Kathleen and Alfred, with their foibles and failings, are not what they seem to be, and nor is their home.

“It is a wonderful play by an amazing playwright who is sadly no longer with us. He is a playwright who pulls the rug out from under your feet. You think one thing is happening and then it turns out that another thing is happening. And it is a piece that is going to feel particularly revenant after all that we have been through this past year.”

Also in the Minerva will be Rachel O’Riordan’s production of The Beauty Queen Of Leenane by Martin McDonagh (September 3-October 2), a co-production with Lyric Hammersmith Theatre and a piece Daniel has long wanted to do.

In the mountains of Connemara, County Galway, Maureen Folan – a plain, lonely woman, tied to her manipulative and ageing mother, Mag – comes alive at her first and possibly last prospect of a loving relationship. But Mag has other ideas; and her interference sets in motion a train of events that leads inexorably towards the play’s breathtaking conclusion.

“It’s a play I have loved for a long time, ever since I first saw it. I have asked for the rights and they have never been free, but the agents said there was a way if we could co-produce. Rachel had bagged the rights. Rachel is Irish. She is connected to the place in rural Ireland where it is set and McDonagh is connected with her. It is a black comedy. It is very funny and it is very cruel. The humour is quite bleak but very very funny, the kind of laugh where you feel like you should not really be laughing.” Rachel is artistic director of the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith where the production will play immediately following its Chichester run: “These are the kinds of partnerships that are going to be more and more important for us as we come out of the debacle of the past year.”

cft.org.uk; 01243 781312.