Theatre on the Fly, Chichester, ‘will revive 80s spirit’

Like an impressive stage trick, a magnificent and unique new temporary theatre has been set up in Chichester in what seems like the blink of an eye, says chief reporter Lewis Brown.

The impressive new Theatre on the Fly, built using recycled material including from the nearby Festival Theatre, is designed to bring back the spirit and excitement of The Tent, the marquee venue which held impromptu performances before the arrival of the Minerva Theatre.

The temporary theatre at Oaklands Park is a celebration of the Festival Theatre’s 50th anniversary.


Tim Hoare, co-artistic director for the Theatre on the Fly project, said: “It really is breathtaking.

“The back wall opens out on to the park and it will play to this natural backdrop which very few theatres can do.

“Coming here it’s like opening a beautiful clock and seeing it all whir away.

“It can be very scary.

“I normally find it hard to sleep but recently I have found it especially hard because you know that at any minute you might forget something. But that is all part of the training here.

“I have been here for two years and there is no where else where I can get the experience of running a building. It’s a really good insight into what it takes.”

Heller Foundation

The Theatre on the Fly is a temporary new space for our next generation of theatre-makers and theatre-goers.

With the support of the Heller Foundation three young directors have been trained, who now present their debut Chichester productions along with a host of other entertainments in an extraordinary theatrical space.

As well as new productions of Blue Remembered Hills, Playhouse Creatures and the world premiere of Fred’s Diner, Theatre on the Fly will house an eclectic season of late night comedy, live music and cabaret, the Youth Theatre’s production of Noah, theatre activities for children, brand new interactive audio experiences and anniversary readings.


But the theatre isn’t designed to be around forever.

Tim added: “The idea of this disappearing fills me with horror.

“It has that something about theatre, that fleeting presence, where there is no point in trying to re-create something.

“It creates a buzz you can’t get any other way. You have got something special by only doing something temporary.”

Tim said he hoped to re-create the excitement of The Tent venue from the 1980s.

It was the work of actors at The Tent which prompted the creation of the Minverva Theatre, which stands at The Tent’s old site.

The Minerva Theatre itself opened in April 1989 under the direction of Sam Mendes, after a successful fundraising campaign including a donation of £500,000 from a local businessman.