Chichester Festival Theatre appoints new Artistic Director

The Board of Chichester Festival Theatre has announced Justin Audibert will succeed Daniel Evans as Artistic Director. Currently Artistic Director of London’s Unicorn Theatre, and a freelance writer and director who has directed productions for the RSC and the National Theatre, Audibert will take up his new post, working alongside Executive Director Kathy Bourne, in July.

The recruitment process was led by Mark Foster and Board members Harry Matovu KC, Mike McCart, Holly Mirams, Caro Newling OBE and Stephanie Street, with advice from the director Dominic Cooke, and observed by Neil Darlison (Arts Council England).

Justin Audibert, Artistic Director Designate of Chichester Festival Theatre Photo by Seamus Ryan

“After meeting a very impressive longlist and shortlist of candidates, we were in no doubt that Justin’s experience in making theatre for audiences of all ages in venues large and small, together with his creativity, energy and enthusiasm, make him an outstanding choice to take Chichester Festival Theatre into its seventh decade,” said Mark Foster, Chair of Chichester Festival Theatre. “As well as being one of the UK’s most admired directors, he shares our values and our commitment to the vital importance of community, diversity and inclusion. We warmly welcome him to the CFT family and look forward with great anticipation to the vision and leadership he will bring to Chichester.’

During Audibert’s time at the Unicorn Theatre he directed Pinocchio, The Canterville Ghost, Aesop’s Fables, Beowulf and My Mother Medea. His writing credits include Marvin’s Binoculars and Anansi The Spider. Other recent theatre directing credits include The Taming of the Shrew, Snow in Midsummer by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig (also at Oregon Shakespeare Festival) and The Jew of Malta (Royal Shakespeare Company), Macbeth and The Winter’s Tale (National Theatre).

He also wrote and presented the two BBC Live Lessons on Shakespeare for the RSC and has taught at drama schools and universities in the UK and around the world. In 2012 he was the recipient of the Leverhulme Award for Emerging Directors from the National Theatre Studio and was one of The Guardian’s 12 Theatre Stars for 2020.

Talking about his appointment, Audibert said: “I am so excited to be joining Kathy Bourne and the wonderful team at Chichester Festival Theatre. It is an organisation that creates brilliant, innovative productions with inspirational artists that delight audiences in Chichester, across the UK and around the world. In addition to the magic that is created on its stages is the ground-breaking work CFT does in communities through their Learning, Education and Participation department. Being able to combine those two huge passions of mine and lead such a dynamic team makes this my dream job.

“On a personal note, Chichester holds a very special place in my heart. As a child we used to holiday in this beautiful area and I have a deep abiding affection for the stunning countryside and friendly people of West Sussex. I cannot wait to get to know them better as we create the next chapter in Chichester Festival Theatre’s illustrious history.’

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