Key Chichester locations included in youth theatre's city centre promenade performance


17-year-old Flo Clarke will have something very impressive to add to her CV by the time she starts applying to drama school.

Flo is one of the company as Chichester Festival Youth Theatre take to the streets of Chichester this summer with their promenade production Crossing Lines, a new play by Anna Ledwich which runs from August 17-24.

The play imagines Chichester as a city under threat. Borders are collapsing. Communities uprooted. People are on the move. There is only one route to safety and only one means of communication, via the airwaves… but can they be trusted?

Flo is playing a character called Tesla, one of the group of 2019 Companions making a bid for freedom – and taking the audience along with them.

“We are nine people who take you through the whole play and take you on the journey.”

Locations include Chichester Cathedral, Pallant House Gallery, The Novium Museum and the Bishop’s Palace Gardens. The audience will follow the action on foot, guided by the Companions.

“Tesla is an interesting character. She is very against the whole plan that the others have made up. She is very argumentative and unhappy about it all. She does want to escape, but she doesn’t really like the way that they are doing it. She is very scared that the villain will get them. She is very wary of everything – and all the others get so annoyed with her! But she is right. She has thought it all through and she has thought of better ways that she could be doing this. She only thought that there were going to be nine of them and then when she sees 150 people (ie including the audience), she really freaks out.”

The point is that the audience are on the journey too: “In rehearsal it has been quite difficult because obviously the audience aren’t there. But it is going to be really interesting to treat the audience as part of the cast. I will be telling them to hurry up, that we haven’t got time to stop.

“I have been a member of the youth theatre for about half a year, and this is my first show. It has been a really really interesting experience. I was just looking for other youth groups to join, and Chichester Festival Youth Theatre was really recommended… specifically also because I want to act, but also the group work we do is really amazing. I have met some really, really lovely people through it. It has been great learning that there are different ways to act.”

Like taking a show out onto the streets of Chichester, for instance.

“But also with this show we are using technology. The audience will be wearing headsets.”

Flo is hoping it will all lead to a career in the theatre: “It is something I have wanted to do for a long time, and I think this will be really good. It will be different. You will have the audience right with you and you will see them watching the characters growing and changing, and you will be watching the audience get the messages of the play: that history is happening now, that history is forever being made.”

There is no formal seating and the audience will be required to stand during the scenes. However, there will be limited seating at each location for those with access requirements, and children may be able to sit on the ground. Details about the start and end location will be sent in advance.

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