Chichester Festival Theatre celebrates its 50th birthday with an anniversary season that echoes and acknowledges the past while also looking to the future. Uncle Vanya was part of Chichester's very first season in 1962 and became a key part of its history and is revisited during Festival 2012. The Way of the World in 1984 has also become an emblematic production; the play will feature again this year.
Many of the actors and directors who have been such an important part of Chichester's recent success return during Festival 2012. Directors Philip Franks, Angus Jackson, Rachel Kavanaugh, Jonathan Kent and Trevor Nunn and actors Roger Allam, Henry Goodman, Penelope Keith and Michael Pennington all continue their close relationship with Chichester during this ambitious landmark season.
Distinguished actor Derek Jacobi will also feature during Festival 2012 in a production of Heartbreak House.
Alongside these links to Chichester's history, the commitment to developing new work remains equally important and Festival 2012 will feature two world premieres; A Marvellous Year for Plums by Hugh Whitemore and Canvas by Michael Wynne, as well as Surprises, a brand new play by Alan Ayckbourn, alongside his much-loved classic Absurd Person Singular.
New work will also feature in Theatre on the Fly, a temporary third auditorium which will be built on Oaklands Park, echoing the days of The Tent, the 1983 predecessor to the Minerva Theatre.
UNCLE VANYA by Anton Chekhov
Translated by Michael Frayn
30 March – 28 April, Minerva Theatre (Press Night: Thursday 5 April 7.00pm)
Director: Jeremy Herrin
Designer: Peter McKintosh
Sound Designer: Fergus O'Hare
Festival 2012 opens with a new production of the play that marked a turning point in the fortunes of the Festival Theatre during its first season in 1962.
For years Vanya and his niece have worked tirelessly to keep the family's run-down estate from ruin. The return of Vanya's brother-in-law and his captivating wife, coupled with the visits of the charismatic Doctor Astrov, bring old loyalties and new loves into conflict in Chekhov's masterly exploration of his characters' passions, hopes and desires.
Anton Chekhov's plays include The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters and The Seagull.
Michael Frayn has translated most of Chekhov's plays. His own work includes the plays Noises Off and Copenhagen, as well as the novels Spies and Headlong.
The cast features Roger Allam whose credits include Falstaff in Henry IV Parts I and II, for which he won the 2011 Olivier Award for Best Actor. In the same year, he received the Evening Standard Best Comedy Award for the film Tamara Drewe. He last appeared at Chichester in Pravda (Festival 06). Dervla Kirwan's theatre credits include Exiles and Aristocrats and Betrayal; while her television and film includes Ondine, The Silence and The Fuse. Timothy West's numerous theatre credits include The Collection, Quartet, King Lear and A Number. His screen credits include Exile, Bleak House, Iris and Endgame.
Jeremy Herrin directed South Downs for Festival 2011; the production transfers to the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre in April. He is Associate Director of The Royal Court Theatre where his credits include Haunted Child, The Heretic and That Face. Other credits include Absent Friends, Death and the Maiden and Much Ado About Nothing.