Chichester Festival Theatre summer season 2020 unveiled

Chichester’s Kate Mosse adapts her own novel The Taxidermist’s Daughter for the stage in one of the world premieres coming up in the 2020 Chichester Festival Theatre summer season announced today.

Kathy Bourne (Executive Director) and Daniel Evans (Artistic Director) - Photo Seamus Ryan
Kathy Bourne (Executive Director) and Daniel Evans (Artistic Director) - Photo Seamus Ryan

The summer will see a 50:50 playwright gender balance and 60:40 female directors, with tickets frozen at 2019 prices and the Chichester Spiegeltent returning.

2020 will also see a new play from the Sherlock and Dracula combination Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.

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The season has been unveiled by CFT artistic director Daniel Evans and executive director Kathy Bourne.

There will be five world premieres:

1) The Unfriend by Steven Moffat, with Amanda Abbington, Frances Barber and Reece Shearsmith, directed by Mark Gatiss

2) The Long Song, a new adaptation by Suhayla El-Bushra based on Andrea Levy’s novel

3) The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse, adapted from her novel, directed by Jonathan Munby

4) The Narcissist by Christopher Shinn, directed by Ola Ince

5) A new adaptation of Pinocchio by Anna Ledwich

Two musicals feature in the season:

1) Daniel Evans directs Chichester’s first production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific with Gina Beck, Julian Ovenden and Rob Houchen

2) Assassins by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, directed by Polly Findlay

Major revivals of great modern dramas coming up are:

1) Jonathan Church directs Henry Goodman in Brecht’s The Life Of Galileo, translated by David Edgar

2) Muriel Spark’s The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, adapted by Jay Presson Allan, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh

3) Richard Coyle and Lisa Dillon in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, directed by Simon Evans

4) The Village Bike by Penelope Skinner, directed by Nicole Charles

5) Sarah Kane’s Crave, directed by Tinuke Craig


Priority booking for Friends of Chichester Festival Theatre opens: Saturday, February 22 (online and booking forms only); Wednesday, February 26 (phone and in person)

Booking for groups and schools opens: Thursday, February 27

General booking opens: Saturday, February 29 (online only); Tuesday, March 3 (phone and in person) Box office 01243 781312. Tickets from £10.


Henry Goodman in The Life Of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht, directed by Jonathan Church, April 24-May 16, Festival Theatre. 1609. Galileo Galilei is a teacher of mathematics at the University of Padua. The establishment orthodoxy – which he’s been teaching to private pupils for years – is that the sun revolves round the earth, which is the centre of the universe. The theory confirms the scriptures and pays the bills.

Richard Coyle and Lisa Dillon in The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard, directed by Simon Evans, May 7-June 6, Minerva Theatre. Henry is a brilliantly clever playwright with a masterful grasp of language and a lot on his mind. His choices for Desert Island Discs, for a start.

The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Jay Presson Allan, adapted from the novel by Muriel Spark, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, May 29-June 20, Festival Theatre. 1931. Edinburgh. Schoolmistress Jean Brodie prizes beauty, truth and art above the curriculum, reaching beyond the classroom to find lessons in galleries, theatres and the opera. For her favoured set of girls – Sandy, Jenny, Monica and Mary – she is a fascinating enigma.

The Village Bike by Penelope Skinner, directed by Nicole Charles, June 12-July 4, Minerva Theatre. The Village Bike spins the wheels off the old conventions around human desire. Hilarious and original, it explores impending motherhood and the need for liberation from social and gender conventions.

Gina Beck, Julian Ovenden and Rob Houchen in South Pacific, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, directed by Daniel Evans, July 6-August 29. 1943. On an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, Nellie Forbush, a navy nurse from Arkansas, finds herself falling for the French plantation owner Emile de Becque. Songs include Some Enchanted Evening, I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair and Bali Ha’i.

Amanda Abbington, Frances Barber and Reece Shearsmith in The Unfriend, a new play by Steven Moffat, directed by Mark Gatiss, July 17-August 22, Minerva Theatre. After twenty years of marriage, Peter and Debbie are enjoying a cruise as a break from their annoying teenagers. Peter can’t resist exchanging views on Donald Trump with an American fellow passenger. There’s something slightly unsettling about the eagerly friendly Elsa Jean Krakowski – but there’s no point in rocking the boat when you’re about to get off it.

Cherrelle Skeete in The Long Song, a new adaptation by Suhayla El-Bushra, based on the novel by Andrea Levy, directed by Charlotte Gwinner, August 28-September 26, Minerva Theatre. Miss July is born into slavery in Jamaica and is brutally parted from both her mother and her name. But what she retains is resilience, charisma and a subversive, spirited wit. The Taxidermist’s Daughter, adapted for the stage by Kate Mosse, a new play based on her novel, directed by Jonathan Munby, playing in repertoire, September 12-October 30, Festival Theatre. 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.

The Assassins, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim,, directed by Polly Findlay, Playing in repertoire, September 29-October 31, Festival Theatre. A surreal fairground attraction, where a motley crew of visitors gather to try their luck at winning prizes. They have one thing in common: the American dream has twisted their lives into an American nightmare.

The Narcissist, a new play by Christopher Shinn, October 2-24, Minerva.

Crave by Sarah Kane, October 16-31, The Spiegeltent.

The Chichester Festival Youth Theatre – Pinocchio by Anna Ledwich, directed by Dale Rooks on the main-house stage, December 12-31.