The vibrant city of Cambridge has been the stage for many amazing performances over the years, and was home to now well known actors and actresses as their careers were just taking off. This industry has played a huge role within the city’s culture, providing us with some of the most delightful daytime and evening entertainment. However COVID-19 has closed the theatres doors, and like many industries they are trying to reinvent themselves to regain business as we reemerge from lockdown with the easing of restrictions. In honour of Cambridge theatres, during this difficult time, we wanted to write a blog post about their history in our city to show our support to this incredible industry.
The Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club (ADC) has been around since 1855. With its ever growing popularity, it is one of the best-known places in Cambridge to watch live performing arts. Recently they have been rethinking the ways people can support the theatres during lockdown. one of the ways they have been doing this is with live radio shows for people to listen to from the comforts of their own homes, these shows are of plays like Sylvia Plath’s – Three Women.
The ADC Theatre is Britain’s oldest University playhouse and plays have been performed ever since its opening in 1882. This theatre survived the world wars. In World War I the performances were halted due to decrease student numbers, however in World War II performances did continue and there were lights which were displayed by the side of stage to indicate when there was an alert. Directions to the nearest Air Raid Shelter were even printed in the programmes that were given out to the audience members. This theatre even survived a terrible fire that destroyed most of the building in 1933. Having endured so many hardships over the years and brining such fantastic entertainment to so many, we can only hope that the theatre will continue its success regardless of the crisis it might find itself in.
The ADC Theatre is the centre of student drama in Cambridge, hosting ambitious and professional standard productions and will continue to do so after COVID-19.
ADC is encouraging the public to donate to help them overcome this difficult time. By donating you can help support the vital maintenance on the building and offset some of the financial losses caused by the Theatre being closed to the public. Please go and visit their donation page and consider helping this fabulous Cambridge gem.
The Cambridge Footlights
As one of Britain’s oldest student sketch comedy troupes, Footlights has been performing in Cambridge since the early 1880’s. This company is known as the Cambridge foundation of comedy and satire, setting high standards for British comedy. For instance, ‘Monty Python’ and ‘The Goodies’ are just a couple of examples of how Footlights’ foundations has impacted British comedy and imagination in the 60s and 70s. Most of the Footlights’ members have become very popular; you might even recognise the majority of them:
Emma Thompson, (Sense and Sensibility, Nanny McPhee, and Saving Mister Banks), Hugh Laurie (101 Dalmatians, Stuart Little and Tomorrow Land), Rowan Atkinson (Blackadder, Mr. Bean, Johnny English), Tony Slattery (Whose Line is it Anyway?), Penny Dwyer, Paul Shearer (winner of the inaugural Perrier Award at the Edinbrigh Fringe and spawned Fry and Laurie) and Stephen Fry (V for Vendetta, Wilde and Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive; Harry Potter AudioBooks).
Cambridge Arts Theatre
The Cambridge Arts Theatre was founded in 1936 by the famous Cambridge economist and statesman John Maynard Keynes. Keynes enthusiasm to build a theatre in Cambridge came from various influences with one being his wife Lydia Lopokova. It is said that theatre was a gift for his beloved wife, who was a great Russian Ballerina. When she decided to move to England to live with him she stopped dancing, so Keynes built up this humble theatre, for his wife to practice. The theatre is now a venue of choice for all scale-appropriate drama, dance and opera performances, as well as showcasing touring productions.
Cambridge Arts Theatre Trust is an independent theatrical charity. This means that they solely rely on the good will of people, ticket sales and their bar takings. So during COVID-19 they have never been more in need of support from others to continue their aim of inspiring and nurturing a lifelong love of the performing arts and to secure the future of the Theatre. Please visit their donation page for more information.
During this difficult time we all face it is great if you can support your local businesses to continue to bring independence, culture, activities, food and continued support for the community of Cambridge. By doing so you are allowing our vibrant city to continue to grow and provide diversity. We hope this blog post brings some attention for the performing Arts of Cambridge and support for local businesses here in Cambridge.