A memorial service at Chichester Cathedral on Monday, September 16 at 2.30pm will celebrate Patrick Garland’s immense contribution to British theatre.
His close friend and colleague Simon Callow is devising the service which is certain to attract some of the greatest names from the entertainment world.
Mr Garland, who died in Worthing hospital earlier this year at the age of 78, was one of the most important and popular artistic directors in Chichester Festival Theatre’s 51-year history, first from 1981-1984 before returning for a second stint (1991-1994) after the sudden departure of Michael Rudman in 1990.
Mr Garland, who is survived by his wife the actress Alexandra Bastedo, lived for many years at Almodington, near Chichester, where Alexandra ran an animal sanctuary. The couple moved to West Chiltington where the animal sanctuary continues.
Alexandra said that even now it was impossible to gauge the sheer breadth and depth of Patrick’s contribution to the arts: “I think people are still amazed to find out how he will be remembered. He did so much, as I am still finding out just by going through his archive. Patrick worked endlessly with Simon Callow on his Dickens’ show. The last one was only last year. They were great friends.”
In fact, Simon will complete Patrick’s memoirs, of which Patrick had written around half by the time of his death: “Patrick had kept everything going back to when he was 16. The moment his life starts getting interesting was when he won a major poetry award when he was 18.”
Simon and Alexandra have already joked that his memoirs will need ten volumes to do justice to him.
“He just wrote everything down. He has got quite a big archive on the Royal family, and he also had a great interest in the first world war and the second world war. The other thing I found were his reports from school. One report said ‘He is the only pupil I have ever had who is so brilliant in English and asks for more homework!’
“There is also a letter from his agent saying ‘I am glad you are coming back from New York because there is a request here from Andrew Lloyd Webber to meet you because he is thinking of doing something about cats.’”
Patrick was already contracted to Chichester Festival Theatre at that time and suggested the show would be perfect to open in Chichester; sadly, Lloyd Webber wanted it to go straight into London.
As Alexandra says, Chichester was a place Patrick was passionate about: “If you count the year Peter Dews had his stroke, Patrick was there for 11 years without grants, without any financing apart from from the good people of Chichester. He loved the shape of the theatre.
“And people forget that he and Kenneth Fleet raised the money for the Minerva. There was the tent before, and the idea for the Minerva originally was that young students would have the possibility of showing what they can do.
“Patrick was committed to giving young people chances,” Alexandra said.
Sussex traditional musicians the Copper family will perform at the service, as will soul singers The Bastedo Band, a string quartet and concert pianist (and Patrick’s godson) Simon Mulligan. Simon Callow will speak. Other speakers will be confirmed.
The service is open to the public.