First Time Producer: Behind the Scenes

Ever wondered what a producer actually does? Fresher LARA FERRIS gives us the low-down on what goes on in the countdown to opening night.

ADC Corpus Playroom god of carnage lara ferris producer thomas fraser

If anyone happened to be walking along King’s Parade on Thursday afternoon, they would have seen Tom Fraser and I, two Caius first years, slowly pushing along a trolley piled high with a sofa and cushions whilst dodging tourists, awkward comments, and (unsuccessfully) trying not to make fools of ourselves.

Corpus Playroom Sign

To people who, during the last few days, have asked me why I’ve bought a sofa, I have replied that I’m producing the play ‘The God of Carnage’ at Corpus Playrooms, and that the ADC only has one white sofa. Their next question invariably is ‘What does a producer do?’ and actually, before this term, I would have been just as clueless and curious as they are.

This is my first time producing a play. I’ve acted in a few here at Cambridge, and done a little bit of directing back at school, but this is the first time I’ve stepped into the role of producer. And, to tell you the truth, even though the show is going up in just a few days’ time, I don’t really think I’ve grasped what this role actually involves.

I’m still not sure if I have any fixed responsibilities at all, and I’m beginning to realise that ‘producing’ simply means doing everything possible to get a play up and running, and persuading you to part with £5 for a ticket.

There is a lot of paperwork to do, and various bits and bobs to organise: if you don’t sort the problems out, no one else will. I will forever be grateful to Sam Clear and the ADC team for putting up with my dodgy Italian Skype connection over the Easter holidays while I asked the best way to put up wallpaper, and whether we could just paint the walls of the Corpus Playroom instead – resulting in a polite but firm “NO”. After many more of my inane questions (whether we can borrow the ADC’s scissors, and if they have an adaptor) I’m surprised they’re still replying to my emails.

I’ve spent a lot of time asking our publicist if he can change the border of our poster by a few millimetres, and whether he can give me the image in all the different sizes and colour schemes under the planet. I’ve wandered up and down Mill Road perusing charity shops for coffee tables and matching drinks glasses so many times that it’s become my second home. So much so that my new main topic of conversation is how my flatmates and I should ballot there next year because there are at least three different types of supermarket.

I also persuaded my (long-suffering) friends to cycle to Chesterton with me last Thursday so that I could buy a hamster cage, using the promise of Calippos as a bargaining tool/bribe.

It’s been an adventurous couple of weeks, scouring Cambridge high and low to fit out the sitting room that we’re creating onstage, whilst balancing the demands of budget and publicity, not to mention revision and exams. It’s been a question of low-level stress that has gradually got more and more difficult to ignore, but I’m also excited about how my first production will turn out. I can’t wait to bring all the bits together, stick this dreaded wallpaper to the walls, roll out the carpet and open the doors to the audience.