Pop-up theatre at the Festival of Chichester

Finale of Bear Hunt. Photo by Rosey Purchase
Finale of Bear Hunt. Photo by Rosey Purchase

Chichester Community Theatre will once again be offering free pop-up theatre performances in city-centre locations as part of this year’s Festival of Chichester.

There will be five performances of Bear Hunt, a new specially-commissioned 20-minute play by award-winning playwright Lucy Flannery.

Directed by Roger Redfarn and produced by Kathy Sykes, Bear Hunt, is about a wistful husband and wife. The husband Robert is played by Steve Wallace and his wife Mel is played by Liz Lawrence.

Robert has been looking forward to his retirement, but things aren’t going as planned. He can’t find the spare batteries, he can’t change the weird light bulb and there’s something very, very wrong with his wife.

Roger said: “We want to encourage people to take time out while they’re doing their shopping on Saturday mornings and come along to one of our free performances.

“People can just turn up, admission is free and no tickets are required. All the venues are easy to get to as they’re all located in the city centre. It’s a fantastic opportunity to come along and see a short 20-minute play that has been specially written for the festival by a successful local writer.

“Last year we did Yes and No by Graham Greene. I just thought it would be a nice idea to do a new play and an opportunity for a local writer. Lucy has done some of Greg Mosse’s new-writing classes, and he suggested her. She sent me several plays, and I just loved the style of her writing. I asked her to write a 20-minute piece. I told her it had to be for a small cast, and I left the subject open to her.

“It has got good parts for two actors and a universal theme, but we are not aware of the theme until we are well into it.

“It deals with a subject that every couple has to deal with in their relationship. But we are not aware of it. What is clever is the way that it finally unfolds and we are not watching what we think we are watching. I think it is brilliantly observed.”

“We chose venues that are suitable, the courtyard at Pallant House Gallery, for example. But I would like to be slightly more adventurous in future and choose venues you might not expect. It would be wonderful to stop everyone in the middle of Marks & Spencer’s for 20 minutes!

“But you have got to have a venue where there is a certain amount of discipline. The good thing about the library was that people were coming in to change their library books and realised that there was something going on and started watching.”

Chichester Community Theatre’s pop-up performances of Bear Hunt will take place on: Saturday, June 23 at Pallant House Courtyard, East Pallant at 11am; Saturday, June 30 at Chichester Library, Tower Street at 12 noon; Saturday, July 7 at Chichester Library, Tower Street at 12 noon; and Saturday, July 14 at the Studio at New Park Centre, New Park Road at 11am.

Lucy Flannery, who lives in Havant, has written for the stage, television and radio.

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