We spoke to Cambridge student directors for their best tips for applying to Cambridge theatre

Top tips from the best in the Cambridge theatre scene!

Cambridge theatre is back in business! With the new academic year starting, new talent is sure to appear in droves. But the world of Cambridge theatre can seem daunting to someone on the outside, whether that is because you are trying something completely new, diving into the endless Facebook pages dedicated to the arts, or hoping to direct the show of your dreams.

We spoke to Cambridge’s own student directors to tell us more about getting into Cambridge theatre!

Shoot your shot

Ilona Sell, a second year student, told the Tab that an incoming director “shouldn’t shy away from pitching a show,” this is your chance to show your ideas and explore your own creativity! You will do “a lot on your own, but there is no better way to learn!”

So many plays, so little time (Credit: Charlie Scott-Haynes)

Plus, there are amazing opportunities put into place exclusively for Freshers. For example, the Fresher’s show is a great and accessible way to venture into the theatre scene, even if you have little to no experience!

Joe Harrington, recent director of the Fresher’s show No Quarter (2021), told the Tab it provided him with the “perfect opportunity” to take his “turn in the director’s chair.” Although, it felt like a big step to be in charge of “thousands of pounds, a fully functional theatre and a vast vat-full of talent from a cast and crew of about fifty people,” the CUADC was there to support and guide him.

It can be scary

Ilona told us that one of the struggles she faced was “an intense fear of getting something wrong,” whether in directing her actors, pitching her idea or just working with the ADC, where her show Consent was performed in 2021.

It might seem like a daunting prospect, putting your ideas out there, when you “don’t really know what you’re doing,” but don’t let this stop you! Ilona told us that asking “for help wherever possible” from those in and around the theatre scene really aided her in the development of her role as director.

The ADC stage is just waiting for you… (Credit: Charlie Scott-Haynes)

After all, we just want to see your new and exciting ideas!

Be you

Anna Mahtani, a student director and recent showrunner of Cam FM’s Stop Signs, told us that you should always make sure you’re “passionate about your project,” as “you’re the one who is going to make sure everyone else is inspired!” Having a vision is great, but it’s even better if you can inspire others to help you work and improve upon it.

Plan plan plan!! (Credit: Charlie Scott-Haynes)

Anna also told us that giving “practical signs of what you want to achieve” can really help the early development of a project. Bring ideas to life with “mood boards… lighting and sound ideas;” think about the big and little things that will make your show stand out!

New avenues

Of course, a director might also be in want of an Assistant, so how do you apply to become an AD?

Ilona told us that the most important thing is to read the play and then write an application of around “700-1000 words- Competition is normally quite high and it is key that you set your application apart from others. Show the director that you “have good ideas” and that you are “interested in their project.”

Shakespeare and Charlie, the directing collab everyone was waiting for… (Credit: Charlie Scott-Haynes)

If you don’t get the position, an application like this will still be “good practice for pitching yourself” and it will give you a good idea as to what directing entails.

So there we have it: our top tips to getting into directing at Cambridge! With so many opportunities coming up, we can’t wait to see the talent that is out there.

Good luck!!