I interviewed the first year-director behind Cambridge’s upcoming fresher’s show

Let’s get down to showbusiness

Who’s behind the scenes of what promises to be a big week in Cambridge theatre? A whole bunch of freshers.

So, I thought I’d check in to see how it’s all going, and I got chatting to Lucia Bowers, the first-year who’s directing the fresher’s Mainshow, ‘A Small Family Business,’ at the ADC Theatre next week.

For those of you wondering, a fresher’s show is basically a production that includes anyone that hasn’t been involved in Cambridge theatre before – so it’s mostly first years, but with a few second and third years, and even postgrads coming together in the limelight (or backstage) to put on a show.

The lovely bunch behind ‘A Small Family Business.’ (Image Credits: Lucia Bowers)

Getting the show on the road

I’m eager to find out what recruiting and casting other freshers has been like. According to Lucia, the freshers out there are “immensely talented” and there is “a real range of talent out there, and we’re excited to recruit from that pool in the future.”

Doing a show at ADC Theatre with little to no experience has got to be daunting, right? But with a fresher’s show, Lucia explains, everyone’s in the same boat, and “just really excited to be recruited and excited to be a part of it.”

Years and years of experience is not essential, or even preferred, in a fresher’s show. Although Lucia has worked with the RSC before at school and is “really grateful that I’ve had  opportunities to direct before,” she’s really aware that “a lot of people haven’t had those opportunities to act or be involved in backstage work especially – here we have roles that never existed in schools like producers or stage managers.”

Theatre experience is something you pick up along the way, rather than needing it to get into the show in the first place. “I think that’s something that is increasingly advocated for and present within Cambridge theatre: the idea of not needing experience and  being able to learn on the job, because ultimately although the ADC and Cambridge theatre scene is incredibly successful, it is for fun.”

If only the author of this Camfess knew… (Image credits: Camfess)

Keeping up with the theatre kids

Especially with such a quick turnaround (tearing down one show’s set on a Saturday, setting yours up on Sunday, rehearsing on Monday and boom, opening night on Tuesday), putting on a show is full-on.

“Our opening night is this coming Tuesday, the 16th, and then the show is on all week until Saturday the 20th, and then the cycle starts all over again with a different show. Learning to keep up with the fast-paced nature of Cambridge theatre is great, but I also know that I have back up there if I need it, with the amazing cast, crew and lots of different representatives from ADC theatre willing to get stuck in.”

But one great thing about doing a fresher’s play is that although it sometimes feels like the “the biggest most intimidating thing” ever, there is layer after layer of support available.  At the end of the day, although ‘A Small Family Business’ is on “such a big scale, and by such a well-known playwright, Alan Ayckbourn,” the main takeaway is … brace for the cheesy line… teamwork.

Publicity designer is just one of the roles that freshers can take on, which involves designing a poster. (Photo Credits: ADC Theatre)

Everyone’s welcome, whether they have a clue or not what they’re doing

When going to try out for a freshers play, Lucia tells me that there’s no need to really have figured out exactly your ten-year plan for a theatre career. Rather, it’s more about being “interested in how other fields work. People are willing to lend a hand in other departments or within the crew, actors are willing to help each other, with different scenes. I’ve definitely learned about Cambridge theatre, what that entails and why people are so excited by it. Directing in Cambridge is something that I want to do for the rest of my degree.”

It looks like it’s going to be a big week for the next generation of Cambridge thespians.

Feature image credits: Lucia Bowers

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