Chichester Festival Theatre spent two years planning and constructing a temporary structure for Theatre in the Park in the summer of 2013. Event Industry News has nominated it as one of the top 10 temporary structures built in the UK this year.
The designers created a state-of-the-art 1,400-seat temporary structure that opened in July to widespread praise from industry critics, festival-goers, and members of the community. The tensile structure was 129 feet in diameter and resembled a circus big-top. It was supported by three 75-foot high kingpoles, and almost 500 4.5-foot stakes held the structure in place. The roof supported thousands of pounds of lighting, sound, and rigging equipment. The structure was climate-controlled, sound-proof, and built for the first time in Chichester, England. It took three weeks to construct and was open for 12 weeks, and then dismantled to return the park to its normal state.
Performances included the musical Barnum, which ran for six weeks and included a tightrope and trapeze, and the play Neville’s Island, which required flooding most of the stage with water to create an island where the characters were shipwrecked.
The original Festival Theatre is being redeveloped as part of the Theatre’s “RENEW” project. It was constructed in 1962 and can no longer keep up with the demands of the artistic projects currently being undertaken. Theatre organizers have come up with an imaginative new design and are in the process of raising funds for the upgrades. They plan to make repairs to the original structure, add an addition, increase seating capacity, improve access, upgrade public and backstage facilities, and make the building more energy-efficient.