Bouncing back– Get creative with these arts societies!

No more zoom rehearsals!

How do you performances with no audience, stage, or ability to come within two metres of each other? And, added to that mix, your team is scattered across the globe and only accessible via Zoom.

As impossible as this question may seem, many of Cambridge’s diverse and eclectic arts societies have taken it in their stride. Read on to find out how a selection of our favorites have persisted through the pandemic and are eager to bounce back better than ever.

1. CU DJ Society

Founded January 2021, President Fergus Holmes-Stanley shares that (ironically) COVID played an ‘integral’ role in the society’s formation, as it was founded to allow student DJ to network with one another whilst clubs were closed.

Fergus also hopes that, post-pandemic, the society will provide an easy and centralized way for Ents and Bops officers to get back in touch with Cambridge-based DJs.

(Photo credits: Eliah Cohen)

In Michaelmas they’ll be running an open deck night (for new DJs to meet and have a spin), doing nights at Clare Cellars, and holding a special workshop as well as Rasberry Jam events to encourage more women to pursue DJing.

To sum up why you should sign up, Fergus says “We all think our Spotify playlists are the best, so why not come along and test out your selection skills by DJing?…plus you’ll get free nights out and who can say no to that?!”

Apart from DJing, the versatile society is also “keen to work with producers, photographers, videographers and anyone who’s interested in events management.” Spot them playing at the MedSoc Ball (October 5th), ArchSoc (October 18th), Murky Sonics 001 (October 25th), and various ents at colleges including St. Johns, Queens, and Kings.

2. Notorious

This women and non-binary a-capella group is pink-clad, tight-knit, and a whole lot of fun! If you’re looking to sing at university but don’t have the time, sight-reading skills, or robe-wearing tolerance for choir then look no further.

(Photo credits: Notorious)

In COVID , they carried on the group by muting themselves and singing along to a backing track on Zoom as well as holding some outdoor rehearsals (culminating in three performances at St. Johns summer feasts) in Easter term.

For the upcoming year, they’re stoked to hold in-person auditions in Michaelmas and hope they will have opportunities to perform in Lent and audition for May Balls. Check them out on Instagram and Facebook and sign up for auditions via their booth at the Freshers’ Fair.

3. The Tab, Cambridge!

To be honest, we couldn’t not feature ourselves in our own article. Introducing the university’s most fun, and talented student newspaper! At the Tab there’s a large range of topics to write about (including the opportunity to take tease Girtonians as much as you like!), and encouraging mentorship on becoming a better writer- plus we can’t forget the socials!

(Photo credits: Inika Murkumbi)

We’re not just about writing, we’re looking to become Tiktok and Instagram famous this term, and we’d love new members help us! Look out for us at the Freshers’ Fair where we’ll be handing out our print edition and keep an eye out for the sign up forms we’ll be releasing around freshers’ week!

4. CU Arts and Crafts Society

Pre-COVID, this society was a lovely community that ran holiday activities, themed weekly sessions (e.g. paper marbling), and casual drop-ins. (Materials usually provided)

As treasurer Amy Brook puts it: “ The most special part of our society meetings was creating a comfy and relaxed space, where you could completely retreat from the stresses of a Cambridge term with a craft and a snack.”

(Photo credits: CU Arts and Crafts Society on Facebook)

Virtual meetings and COVID uncertainty made it extremely challenging to create this soothing, wholesome atmosphere.  Thus, next term, Amy hopes that their strategy will be focused on “welfare and wellbeing”.

Alongside crafting activities, the society might also explore the collections, galleries, and museums around Cambridge.

They believe that art is about having fun and not about being perfect. Beginners are welcome! Check out their Facebook and contact their mailing list ([email protected]) to be added.

5. CU Science Improv

Your pit-stop for quirky, offbeat theatre and a unique blend of science and improv, CUSI is made up of science students and scientists who like a good time.

With a knack for opportune timing, they founded in early 2020 and had their first performance in March at the Cambridge Science Festival only “hours before the rest of the festival (and the rest of the year, really) got cancelled due to COVID.”

Photo credits: CU Science Improv

Although exploring the joys of Zoom improv (an “emerging art form”) was great for breaking lockdown monotony, they’ve been back in person for a while and have loads planned for September/October including “a free performance, open workshop, taster sessions, and a beginners’ course.”

No experience is needed so look out for them at the Freshers’ Fair– they’ll be at an outdoor booth with a twin masks logo. Also watch their website and sign up for their mailing list.

6. CU Show Choir

Described by secretary Chloe Stark as “the most fun and social choir in Cambridge”, CU Show Choir will be celebrating its belated (interrupted by COVID) ten year anniversary this upcoming Michaelmas.

(Photo credits: Joe Cook)

Dancing, cavorting, and singing a range of songs from pop to movie theme songs to Disney to musical theatre, they proudly declare that “an enthusiasm for cheesy show tunes and a passion for performing!” is far more important than professional singing or dance experience (none is required).

For Michaelmas, they’ll be following the ADC performance guidelines which are optimistic that theatre will be back to its pre-pandemic glory.

Check out their Facebook, chat with them at the Freshers’ Fair, and catch their show ‘I Need a Hero’. You can also email them at [email protected] .

7. CU Brass Band

Despite the COVID gloom and doom of the past 18 months, CUBB made it to UniBrass, went on tour this summer,  and managed to busk (in groups of six) at city centre last Christmas season.

(Photo credits: Erin Hudson)

Like all of history’s best organizations, they kept themselves afloat in COVID via a thriving Discord server but “hope to kick off Michaelmas term with weekly rehearsals in an accessible space, with Oktoberfest and a joint concert with Waterbeach Brass Band.”

They hold no auditions and welcome “anybody who plays brass or percussion.” Reach out to them via the Freshers’ Fair, Instagram, Twitter, or email ([email protected]). Don’t forget to come along to their concert with Waterbeach!

 8. CU Gilbert and Sullivan Society

Meet the award-winning society that predominantly puts on comic operattas W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan (via both traditional stagings and diverse alternative productions).

Before covid, they put on four shows a year including an annual slot at the Cornwall Minack theatre wherein cast would “stay and rehearse in the local church hall and drink a lot of gin”.

(Photo credits: CU Gilbert and Sullivan Society on Facebook)

Although they kept active via virtual open mics and watch parties, when asked about the impact of COVID, president Sylvie Hodgson Smith uttered the bone-chilling sentence “20 people singing along to opera on a video call doesn’t sound as good as in person…”

Needless to say, they’re super excited to be back this Michaelmas with an open mic night at a bar and auditions for their freshers show Iolanthe. They have a robust inclusivity policy and you don’t need prior experience (or even to know what Gilbert and Sullivan is) in order to give it a try.

Make sure to look out for them and (if you’re free between September 20th-24th) book tickets to their production of HMS Pinafore in Cornwall’s Minack theatre.

9. The Cambridge Impronauts

Last but not least, this 20 year-old improv group is so good at improvisation that they managed to make the best of lockdowns.

Sharing that although lockdown dealt a complete blow to their ability to make eye contact with the audience and move around a stage, they explain that they conducted workshops, underwent technical training, and realized how “online was just a new type of stage”.

(Photo credits: The Cambridge Impronauts on Facebook)

In fact, a heartwarming silver lining to the situation was the newfound potential to cross-pollinate with improv groups from all over.

They’ll be running their free Open Workshops in-person again (join their Facebook group for details) and performing shows such as Quickfire! (at the ADC Bar),  improv Halloween themed show Improltergeist, and an end-November production titled “Comic Sans: Return of the Serif” (a no cis-men show giving the mic to underrepresented genders.

Here’s to hoping you’re super excited for a term that sees minimal amounts of disruption and enormous amounts of creativity, laughter, singing, and crafts! The Cambridge term can feel like a hamster wheel, but signing up to one of the many art societies available can be a fantastic stressbuster.

Featured Image Credits: CU Science Improv on Facebook, CU Arts and Crafts Soc on Facebook, Eliah Cohen, CU Gilbert and Sullivan Society on Facebook

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