Daniel Evans announces his departure as Chichester Festival Theatre artistic director

Daniel Evans – the man who steered Chichester Festival Theatre through the worst moments of the pandemic – is leaving Chichester to become co-artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Daniel Evans, Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre. Photo Seamus RyanDaniel Evans, Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre. Photo Seamus Ryan
Daniel Evans, Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre. Photo Seamus Ryan

Artistic director Daniel will step down from his role at the CFT at the end of April 2023.

He has been appointed co-artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company alongside Tamara Harvey. Daniel’s and Tamara’s co-production of The Famous Five: A New Musical will be at the CFT next month, October 21-November 12.

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Daniel said: “I will leave CFT with immense gratitude and sadness. I have loved my time with the organisation – and owe a huge debt to the staff, artists and audiences who have come together over the years to create inspirational theatre experiences for our communities.

“I want to pay a particular tribute to (executive director) Kathy Bourne, who has been the best partner any artistic director could ask for. She is kind, tenacious, funny, and forward-thinking – and, together with the leadership team, led the company through the challenges of Covid-19 with grace and humour. I will miss her and the entire team enormously and feel proud of all the work we’ve achieved together to continue the extraordinary legacy of CFT.”

Daniel joined Chichester Festival Theatre in 2016. Under his tenure, the company has diversified its repertoire to stage a broad range of work including 17 world premieres. Among the notable revivals and classics have been the award-winning Caroline, Or Change, Roy Williams’s Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads, a digital-live hybrid production of Sarah Kane’s Crave and Ian McKellen’s King Lear; while musicals include his own productions of the box office record-breaking Fiddler on the Roof with Omid Djalili, and South Pacific; and Susan Stroman’s production of Crazy for You.

There has been a significant increase in female playwrights, and the diversity of actors on the CFT’s stages trebled in just five years.

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But maybe most significantly, Daniel, alongside executive director Kathy Bourne, navigated the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, intensifying CFT’s fundamental work with and for the community in West Sussex and ensuring audiences stayed connected at a crucial time.

When the CFT was able to return to the stage, Sarah Kane’s Crave broke new ground, being staged to live audiences and simultaneously live streamed to households in 50 countries around the world.

The theatre has also enjoyed success beyond Chichester during his leadership, with five productions transferring to the West End or securing international and UK tours: Caroline, Or Change, with Sharon D. Clarke recreating her Olivier Award-winning performance in London and on Broadway (where she was nominated for a Tony); King Lear with Ian McKellen, also broadcast to cinemas internationally with NT Live and now on NT At Home; James Graham’s Quiz; Laura Wade’s The Watsons; and South Pacific with Julian Ovenden and Gina Beck, which is currently on a nationwide tour following its London run at Sadler’s Wells.