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  • Gabriel Jones

Performing in a Pandemic

One of the main reasons I applied to Cambridge was the vibrant theatre scene. I’d always participated in school shows and local amateur theatre and I was looking forward to continue doing so in Cambridge. Despite everything that’s happened this year, I actually managed to get a part in a show, even getting to do two performances of it and, whilst it was completely enjoyable, there were, of course, some occupational hazards with trying to put on a musical in the middle of a global pandemic. Hopefully, I’ve learnt something from this experience and when life gets back to normal (knocking violently on wood as I type) everything will seem easier by comparison.

My *journey* actually began before I even arrived in Cambridge. I saw a post on the Cambridge 2020 Freshers’ Group saying that there was only one day left to audition for the CUMTS’ production of Ordinary Days at the ADC theatre. As per the instructions of the post, I sent in a little video of myself singing, expecting to get rejected immediately, but glad nonetheless that I was putting myself out there, gaining experience. To my surprise, I was recalled for a Zoom audition, where I met Amber and Joe (the director and musical director of Ordinary Days respectively) for the first time, and, shortly after, I got an email asking if I’d like to play Jason!

Although I’d performed in school musicals before, nothing could prepare me for the quick turnaround of a Cambridge show. I was used to rehearsing over a period of several months before finally performing in front of an audience, but now we only had about four weeks to get everything up to scratch. None of this was helped when our director and musical director, both being in the same household, had to go into self-isolation at the beginning of rehearsals. Luckily my fellow cast-members, Tom, Ella, and Maddie, and I were left in the more than capable hands of our assistant directors, Chani and Emily, with Amber and Joe calling in via Zoom–what we do without it in 2020?

As many other freshers will know, it’s been particularly difficult this year to meet people, especially outside of your college or course, but taking part in a show has provided an opportunity to do that, even with Covid making things considerably more difficult. Throughout the process, I met people from a variety of colleges, courses, and years, which helped me to feel part of a wider community. It was something to appreciate especially when you spend most of the day in your room, at your desk, waiting for another class or supervision to start on Zoom or, even worse, Microsoft Teams. I only hope that even more freshers get to experience this community in the coming terms!

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