‘Where do I begin?’ A fresher’s guide to Cambridge student theatre

Interested in getting involved in Cambridge Theatre but feel overwhelmed by the plethora of opportunities? Read on to discover how to navigate the puzzling world of Cambridge Theatre

Where do I begin?

We’ve all been there. Wide-eyed freshers desperate to get involved in the bustling Cambridge Theatre scene with absolutely no idea where to start.

Do you see yourself as a leading lady, or a comic villain? Or would you rather amaze an audience through lighting or set design, or create your own vision onstage by being involved in production or directing? Have you done some theatre at school, or are you just looking to try something new? Whatever reason you have for wanting to get involved, the wealth of opportunities at your fingertips can make Cambridge Theatre appear a little daunting at first.

The (virtual) Freshers’ Fair would be a good place to start for any aspiring Cambridge thespians. Perhaps you thought that all your problems would be solved by popping along (read: logging in) to the fair, and simply signing up to a “Cambridge University Theatre Society”. It must have been quite a shock when you were instead faced with a smattering of different actors’ groups, theatrical societies, college and university based theatre companies. If only someone could steer you in the direction of the best society for you. In order to figure this out however, the next stage might need a bit of self-reflection…

Remind Readers of the chaotic virtual fresher's fair

Virtual Freshers’ Fair made it even more difficult than usual to find the right theatrical society to join. (Credit: CU Freshers’ Fair)

What do I want?

With so many different ways to get involved in Cambridge Theatre, it really is worth working out what it is you want to do. Whether it’s developing your skills or pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, it’s good to have an idea of what you want to get out of Cambridge Theatre. For example, for anyone interested in trying out theatre for the first time, College based Theatre Companies such as the Brickhouse Theatre Company (Robinson), Pembroke Players (Pembroke), and Homerton Amateur Theatrical Society (Homerton) are a great way to begin your theatrical journey. Committee or production team roles provide an opportunity to see how smaller shows are run, and getting on the cast of a college based production may offer an opportunity to trial ‘acting chops’ in a way that demands less commitment than the larger, university based societies expect.

A recent Brickhouse Theatre production. (Credit: Rebecca Mayer)

If you are already experienced however, there’s a wealth of different university groups which will give you the opportunity to flourish in Cambridge Theatre. The Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club and ADC theatre showcase the best of student theatre and provide opportunities to get involved in shows you can be proud off. CUADC often works in tandem with other societies such as the Cambridge Footlights Dramatic Club for comedy or the Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society for musical theatre. Through these societies you can get involved in a way that suits you. If you haven’t already, join the Cam Theatre Facebook group where these societies advertise for auditions and production team roles.

Parting Tips:

  1. Don’t be afraid to start small: Many of us have no idea what we want to do while we’re at Cambridge. If you’re not sure, then start by getting involved in smaller productions and get a flavour for what you like.
  2. Do something different: Try something new! If you done loads of acting before, take the opportunity Cambridge provides to write something, or work behind the scenes.
  3. Don’t give up: Most aspiring Cambridge thespians find themselves disheartened by rejection from the first project they audition for. It happens to the best of us. Don’t give up on Cambridge theatre too early, with so many ways to get involved it’s easy to find a way that suits you.
  4. Do keep it fun! Make sure that you are enjoying what you are doing. If you find that you’re not, then it is time to reconsider. The primary goal should always be to have the maximum amount of fun possible!

Cover image credit: Lucia Revel-Chion