Farewell to Theatre in the Park

Theatre in the Park, Chichester
Theatre in the Park, Chichester

The temporary theatre in the heart of Chichester is being dismantled after a triumphant summer.

Chichester Festival Theatre is bidding farewell this month to its pop-up Theatre in the Park which has housed around 100,000 people during its tenure.

Barnum, Theatre in the Park, Chichester

Barnum, Theatre in the Park, Chichester

It will take about three weeks for the auditorium to be taken down before being placed in storage while its future life is determined. Following the dismantling, the football pitch at Oaklands Park will be fully reinstated by Chichester District Council.

Productions and activities at Theatre in the Park during Festival 2013 including Barnum, Neville’s Island, Jimmy Carr, The BBC Concert Orchestra, Sandi Toksvig, the University of Chichester Graduation ceremonies and various talks, workshops and tours.

“Deciding to build a temporary auditorium of this scale was a hugely ambitious, challenging and exciting project,” said Alan Finch, executive director at Chichester Festival Theatre. “It couldn’t have been achieved without the vision and hard work of architect Teresa Hoskyns and theatre producer Mat Churchill, and the rest of Entourage Live, together with the team of engineers, builders and riggers at the Festival Theatre.

“We were also indebted to Chichester District Council for its unwavering support, which was echoed by numerous other people in the local community. We would like to extend a massive thank you to everyone involved.

“The positive response to the tent from audiences has been extremely gratifying and unprecedented during the time that Jonathan Church and I have been here. We hope that people will look back on their experiences of Theatre in the Park with fond memories. Everyone here certainly will – Theatre in the Park has been at the heart of an unforgettable summer for us all.”

The brand new, temporary auditorium was erected in June as the main Festival Theatre remained out of commission due to the £22m RENEW redevelopment. Mirroring the Festival Theatre’s auditorium, the building housed 1,400 seats and a thrust stage.

It was installed in just eight days with the entire project completed in four weeks, situated a few minutes stroll across Oaklands Park from the Festival Theatre site.

Four facts about Theatre in the Park:

Its sustainable, re-usable structure was transported to the UK in 20 sea containers

The auditorium with clear site lines was achieved through the innovative use of three elegant 3-D plasma-cut high-tensile steel arches

Ingeniously quiet air-handling was developed with Helen Butcher at ARUP

The structure consisted of 52 metre diameter tent with 26 tonne roof loading and 100mph wind rating