Chichester Festival Theatre, located in Chichester, Sussex, England, was designed by Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya, and opened by its founder Leslie Evershed-Martin in 1962. Subsequently the smaller and more intimate Minerva Theatre was built nearby in 1989.
The inaugural Artistic Director was Sir Laurence Olivier, and it was at Chichester that the first National Theatre company was formed. Chichester's productions would transfer to the NT's base at the Old Vic in London. The opening productions in 1962 were: The Chances by John Fletcher (first production 1638) which opened on 3 July; The Broken Heart (1633), by John Ford, opened 9 July; Uncle Vanya (1896), by Anton Chekov, opened 16 July. Among the actors in the opening season were: Lewis Casson, Fay Compton, Joan Greenwood, Rosemary Harris, Kathleen Harrison, Keith Michell, André Morell, John Neville, Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Michael Redgrave, Athene Seyler, Sybil Thorndike and Peter Woodthorpe.
The Festival Season usually runs from April to September and includes productions from classics to contemporary writing and musicals.
During this time the theatre also puts on outdoor promenade performances and organises other festival events including cabaret and comedy nights. A range of events is designed to add to the experience of visiting the theatre, including platform events, family days, tours and talks.
The theatre is currently run as a registered charity and is chaired by Sir William Castell. It is a Grade II* listed building.