Sipping in slippers: How to recreate the ADC from the comfort of your own home
I investigated the livestream experience and am kind of a huge fan
Theatre is all a bit weird these days. Shows are running and the ADC is open but not as we know and love it. Everything is distanced, everyone harder to recognise from only seeing the top half of their face. The clubroom sofa is a mere shell of what it used to be (quite literally – the sofa cushions have been taken out). The ADC bar is boarded up and dark.
But I’m here to tell you not to fear! Things might be different but the show is still going on! To prove that it’s all going to be okay, I decided to livestream ‘Dragtime Presents: #squadghouls’ and recreate the experience of a night out at the ADC, all from the comfort of my own home. Here’s how it went…
Step one: Get glammed up (aka change out of pyjamas)
Now this is not one I’d usually do when visiting the theatre in person, but with all this extra time on our hands thanks to rona (otherwise known as procrastination from the old degree), I thought why not. Putting a nice top on is a great way to feel like a functioning human again after all those hours of watching online lectures in bed.
We decided to head out for a pre-show dinner in order to mark the occasion, which was a great start to the night. You simply can’t go wrong with a nice bit of half-price sushi.
Step two: Arrive at the ADC (my laptop)
That last-minute run to get to the theatre before the show starts is no more. Instead, it’s been replaced by a lovely leisurely stroll from one side of the room to the other, to pick up your laptop and log in. Say goodbye to queues in the rain outside the theatre, queues for the toilets, queues to be seated – if I’m honest, theatre without the queueing is actually pretty darn great. Having said that, you may have more time on your hands but be warned that your viewing experience is now at the mercy of your most loveable yet unreliable of friends, the Eduroam Wi-Fi network…
Sidenote: your live-streaming experience will undoubtedly be significantly improved by having access to an ACTUAL TV to watch it on. Creds (and much love) to the college husband for lending me this one.
Step three: Break out the bar
Now, as every thesp knows, the ADC bar is the social hub of the theatre scene. It’s the place you’ll bump into anyone and everyone, from that awkward random hook-up from the freshers’ show you’d probably rather forget about, to your secret townie stalker (happens more times than you might think), to your biggest thesp crush.
There’s a West Side Story-esque divide between the different clans – CUMTS belting out show tunes on your left; techies looking down in disdain at the inferior thesps from their vantage point on the sofas; ‘I’m-too-cool-for-theatre-but-I-do-it-anyway’ London lads freezing their tits off behind the safe divide of the smoking area; those stray Pitt Club members who’ve drunkenly mistaken the big lights of the ADC for Pizza Express, and don’t know what to do with themselves; and, of course, parents of the cast looking thoroughly terrified of the pre-show chaos ensuing.
I’m not going to pretend it’s not a shame missing all of this madness. BUT I did find some fun perks of recreating the ADC bar myself, using the simple ingredients of 1) a recycling bin turned upside down, 2) a bit of card and a sharpie, 3) sufficient alcohol and 4) friends enthusiastic enough to play along with my madness.
The ‘Drag-Quiri’ cocktails were fun – and far cheaper to make than going to the ADC! – although the mandatory pre-show pint was slightly more disappointing. Maybe having a fridge big enough to keep it cold before pouring would’ve made the experience slightly less anticlimactic.
One of us may have cheekily tried for the ADC loyalty card stamp in exchange for her drink, but unfortunately we can’t be doing with any of that funny business at Casa Ella…
Step four: Curtain up!
When seating yourself in preparation for the show, do your best to recreate the ADC auditorium to truly capture the theatre experience. The smaller your room the better – those cramped auditorium seats, where you’re forced to get very friendly with your seat neighbour very quickly, are no joke.
We even went so far as to recreate the social distancing currently in place in the auditorium – because we’re extra – although the advantage of watching with your household is no actual distancing or masks are required.
Top tip: if you’re live-streaming a Mainshow (which has an in-person audience too), remember to listen out for any hot tea spilled by audience members in the auditorium in those moments before the show starts. Those camera mics are surprisingly sensitive, and no one seems to quite have clocked how much can be heard…
Step five: Snack time
Once the show is in full swing, you can whip out your oh-so-important snacks. We went for an ADC bar classic – a big ol’ obnoxious bag of Malteasers to crunch away loudly on. Another benefit of watching from home, you can munch on those snacks to your heart’s desire without worrying about annoying the rest of the audience members around you.
Also, of course, we didn’t forget the infamous interval ice creams. Sadly 60p more expensive than the bargain ADC tubs, and also more of a soup than an ice cream given the sad lack of a freezer in our gyp. But delicious – and essential to any theatre experience – nonetheless.
Step six: Heading home
At the end of a truly fantastic show (big love Dragtime <3 – catch the review here), we might usually head back to the bar to see the cast come out and congratulate them. This would inevitably be followed by *accidentally* staying in the bar until 3am and missing that all-important essay deadline the next morning.
Instead, grab yourself a final drink from the gyp fridge and give your mate who was in the show a quick Facetime to congratulate them. Much less chaotic than the mass of drunk swarming thesps conglomerating in the middle of the bar that you might otherwise find.
Then, honestly the biggest advantage of tuning in from home, head to bed for a *gasp* relatively EARLY night?! Unheard of. I found my mates soundly asleep soon after the show had finished. How sweet.
We had a great night! Drag, daiquiris and dragon rolls (sushi) all made for an enjoyable – if different – theatregoing experience. Live-streaming a show from home is most definitely less chaotic (depending on your housemates), but also cosier, cheaper and you can literally watch the show from bed if you so desire. What’s not to love?
While things may not be quite back to normal, watching the theatre community clinging on with dear might to the theatre that forms such a huge part of the thesp’s Cambridge experience is truly heartwarming to see. And if you fancy tuning in to the ADC shows from home, I highly recommend – just make sure to acquire a fridge big enough to house those all-important show drinks, and have plenty of snacks on hand. If there’s one thing for sure, it won’t be a drag.
All photos are the author’s own.