A day in the life of a Cambridge director

SARAH MERCER exposes the secret life of directors in Cambridge.

ADC Cambridge day in the life of director Witches of Eastwick

8:00 AM:  Alarm goes off. Compliment self on ability to get up early and be a productive human before rehearsal at 10:00. Will rise, wash, put on make up, do translation I’ve ignored up till now and generally be competent and effective.

9:30 Shit, have pressed snooze button repeatedly for an hour and a half. Remarkable considering it only lasts nine minutes.

9:45 Bollocks.

9:50 Rush out door still putting on shoes.

9:52 Go back for script.

10:00 Arrive at rehearsal, mentally congratulate self on foresight in booking all rehearsals in own college.

10:01 Realise have forgotten the plan for rehearsal this morning. Shift responsibility onto Musical Director (MD).

10:00-12:00 Punctuate MD’s frighteningly well run rehearsal with own opinion, after all, am the Director, even if own opinion is about Idina Menzel on New Year’s Eve.

12:00 Dismiss cast, have momentary feeling of pleasure at how well things are going.

12:01 Pleasant feeling crushed by realisation of how much of the show is left to do.


A public show of togetherness, but what lies beneath? (Credit: Johannes Hjorth)

Ok, so I lied, it wasn’t a full day. But hey, we’re all busy people right?

Hello, I’m Sarah and sometimes I direct shows that people in Cambridge are mad enough to take part in. My approach tends to have all the finesse and elegance of a bear trying to dance Swan Lake, but for some reason, people keep granting me the privilege of doing what I love.

Fundamentally being a good Director is all to do with people. You can have the best staging and choreography in the world, but if your cast don’t trust you then you have lost before you have even begun. Insecure and underprepared actors make poor decisions on stage because they don’t understand the characters they are playing.

And the audience will know.

They always know.

It’s not all fun and games in the Playroom

As a Cambridge Director I also have a lot of responsibility, not just to avoid humiliating my cast on stage, but also to keep them sane off it. An ill-timed criticism or negative approach can have a very real impact on those who have trusted you with their often fragile self-esteem. This responsibility runs from the moment your first auditionee introduces themselves until the curtain goes down on your final night.

I feel honoured that I have had the opportunity to work with some fantastically talented people in Cambridge, both on stage and off it. And I would encourage anyone thinking about taking the leap into directing to go for it. If I can do it, anyone can.

But remember, in the words of Uncle Ben (from Spiderman, not the microwave rice packet):

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Sarah is currently directing The Witches of Eastwick, ADC Theatre 7.45pm 3rd-7th February. Tickets £14/11.