Alex Fice finds out what to expect from this year’s lucky dip of amateur theatre at the ADC
An annual celebration of amateur theatre, Cambridge Festival of Drama has been on the scene for over half a century. The Cambridge Drama Festival, as it was officially known then, was founded in 1969 and took place at the ADC Theatre for its first five years, before moving to the Mumford Theatre at Anglia Ruskin University. Now back at the ADC – a venue that helped launch the careers of Emma Thompson, Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston and other famous faces – the festival runs from 15 to 17 September, spotlighting eight plays performed by actors and drama groups from Cambridgeshire and its surrounding counties.
Spread over three days, each set of performances will feature two to three plays composed of just one act. Some are taken from full-length works, while the majority were designed for this compact format. “Over the years, we’ve had some amazing experimental theatre, which you probably wouldn’t be able to see locally as a full-length play – the budget just wouldn’t allow it,” says Trish Peroni, chair of Cambridge Festival of Drama. “I think it’s a real eye-opener for groups if they take advantage; it offers the opportunity to do something they wouldn’t normally, on the main stage, for a commercial audience.
“The single-act format is interesting, as it means there’s less time to get the message across,” she notes. “You have to make sure every detail is pertinent, and that the characters develop very quickly – they have to come on stage with all guns blazing.”
Each play is interspersed with a 15-minute interval, allowing for a quick set change. At the end of the evening, the festival adjudicator will provide some constructive feedback, sharing what they thought went well, and what could be improved. This year’s eagle-eyed assessor is Nancy Heath, who has worked in theatre as a director and as a secondary school drama teacher. She’ll be keeping the score, following a meticulous marking system.
Continue reading the article in our September issue here.