‘Spiegeltent’ planned at Chichester Festival Theatre to boost programme for ‘younger audience’

Spiegeltent planned at Chichester Festival Theatre 19/00496/FUL
Spiegeltent planned at Chichester Festival Theatre 19/00496/FUL

Chichester Festival Theatre wants to set up a temporary tent performance area in Oaklands Park for a ‘more immersive and challenging’ audience experience.

The Spiegeltent, or ‘mirror tent’, is an ornate travelling tent constructed from wood and canvas and decorated with mirrors and stained glass set up for a limited performance season, in this case eight weeks from September.

Spiegeltent planned at Chichester Festival Theatre 19/00496/FUL

Spiegeltent planned at Chichester Festival Theatre 19/00496/FUL

It would comprise of a circular performance area together with an entrance porch, with portacabins to the rear of the tent to serve as dressing rooms and other facilities for performers.

In an application to Chichester District Council, the theatre stated the temporary structure provided by Magic Mirrors would only be erected from September to November 2019 as a replacement for the annual ‘pod’ area.

It said that the main purpose of the tent would be to ‘support the ongoing development of a younger audience at the theatre’, namely those aged 20 to 40 and the tent would have a capacity of around 150 people, or 125 audience members.

It added: “The purpose of the project is to allow CFT to present a varied programme of work in a more intimate and informal setting than the Festival or Minerva Theatre.

Spiegeltent planned at Chichester Festival Theatre 19/00496/FUL

Spiegeltent planned at Chichester Festival Theatre 19/00496/FUL

“The Spiegeltent will give audiences a broader programme of work to engage with and the opportunity for CFT to appeal to new audiences, supporting the on-going audience development work of the theatre.

“The additional space will also support CFT’s Learning, Education and Participation (“LEAP”) department in their family focused work, particularly around the annual national event Fun Palaces, and during October half-term.”

A Spiegeltent, the application argued, would ‘resonated strongly’ with the origins of the main theatre as a ‘tent in the park’.

It read: “In Dutch Spiegeltent means ‘mirror tent’. Tents of this type originated in Belgium and were popular during the 19th and early 20th centuries as an attraction that would travel around the country.

“Their designs reflect this period, being very decorative and ornate with painted timber.”

No specific details as to the designs on the outside of the tent are given, but the tent will be just over 16 metres in diameter and around 20 metres long, including the entrance porch.

Portacabins would be screened from view using willow or another type of asthetic barrier and there would be no impact on the rubgy pitches.