What it takes to…Prepare an ADC show in a fortnight

The Tab goes behind the scenes at the ADC to see just what it takes to get a show ready in just 14 days.

60 ADC behind the scenes Musical play pregnant rehearsals Theatre

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of the well-polished ADC stage? The Tab caught up with the director of an ADC lateshow to see what it takes to get a show audience ready in just 14 days.

Making a Baby: From Conception to Cradle in Two Weeks Flat.
Something was amiss in the Bene't Cafe. Staff and customers alike stared curiously at the steady stream of girls waddling in, distended bellies straining under their clothes, to buy coke and sandwiches. And so rehearsals for 'Be My Baby' began in earnest.

Getting to grips with being pregnant: not so easy in just two weeks. How to condense an epic nine-month journey into fourteen frantic days of rehearsal? I began to spend my evenings trawling NHS websites, typing 'pregnancy' into Youtube and watching graphic home-videos in horror and disbelief. I sent the Assistant Stage Manager emails at odd hours: 'Can you make a baby?' I even rang up my mother and asked her to talk me through her pregnancy. Five minutes later she rang me back. 'Darling, is there something you're not telling me?'
Another challenge of becoming pregnant in two weeks is finding bellies that are both believable and easy to wear. Countless harried emails have been exchanged: 'How is my belly coming along?', which after the Christmas festivities became a question whose answer was embarrassingly obvious.
However, the process of frantically sourcing costumes and props was also exciting: the chance legitimately to drool over 60s dresses, shoes and jewellery is definitely one of the perks of a show like this.
We have been rehearsing almost daily, but for fairly short amounts of time – a couple of hours here and there. This means that theoretically none of the cast or crew should be too stressed out about work during this period – though thinking about all my unwritten essays and glancing at my dissertation languishing accusingly at the very farthest edge of my desk I am beginning to doubt this!
Because it's not the rehearsing that's time consuming. The action is only the polish on a very intricate backstage machine. This machine is oiled by the endless firing back and forth of emails, the hunting down of errant props. My dreams are haunted by an elusive bottle of fake blood, and in lectures instead of daydreaming about what I am going to do this evening I am worrying about safety pins, hairspray and how to come by yet another cheap pair of white tights.
The team's distribution of time has seesawed inexorably towards the play at the expense of, well, everything else. The producer is even now striding about town plastering publicity on every available surface. The technical director is frantically painting and the lighting designer is hurriedly rigging. The behind-the-scenes nitty-gritty of putting on a play makes the artistic side look like child's play.
All it takes is an email from the technical crew about cycs and gels and washes to remind me of my place in the whole enterprise. Like an anxious father expelled from the room by the midwife, I feel entirely useless.


I hover about the fringes of our technical meetings, trying, and failing, to exude an aura of competence.
This incompetence extends to the singing and dancing that feature prominently in the production: having been forcibly evicted from the school choir at the age of six, and having shown no discernible signs of improvement since then, I certainly do not qualify as a wise choice of musical director. However, this did not stop me from blithely deciding that it would not be that hard to choreograph the songs myself…
Between the efforts of the cast and my newly beloved YouTube- the very noughties inspiration for the very sixties dance moves-  things seemed to come together surprisingly easily. I even found myself with a newfound addiction to the sixties girl-band music: The Ronettes, The Supremees, The Crystals and The Chiffons all personal favourites and well worth a look.
So, with a week to go, the pregnancies are coming along nicely. There's still a lot to do but thanks to a brilliant tech team gothic handrails, blood-stained babies and Madonna-and-childs seem to be springing up organically everywhere I go. It can actually be a blessing in disguise to have such a short time to put on a play: it keeps things raw, fresh and exciting, a combination that is exactly what a play like Be My Baby needs.

Be My Baby is the ADC lateshow from Wednesday 20th until Saturday 23rd January, 11pm, ADC Theatre. Student tickets cost £4.

See our Drama Queen's guide to what other theatre is on in Week 1.