For two months between August and October, along with 47 other cast members, I dedicated countless hours towards CTC’s production of Our House. Having given so much time to the project, it’s hard to believe that it’s nearly been a whole month since opening night. This has been my third show with CTC and quite possibly my favourite. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a show where the cast was able to integrate so completely and everyone was friends with everyone, which certainly helped boost the performances. I for one have made friends amongst the cast whom I hope never to lose, and I think this is what makes CTC the company that it is, that balance between the professionalism of the project and the fun, inclusiveness, and accessibility for the cast.

The intensive week feels as if it was a whole year ago, given how much change and work happened between then and the performance week. As Gabriel previously stated, the project can be split into three main blocks: the initial intensive week, the following biweekly rehearsal schedule, and the show week itself. The intensive week is crucial to any CTC performance and that was no different this year. The hours were long and involved intense dance calls in the late August heat but, by the end of the week, we were able to do a near complete run-through. It’s this professional aspect of CTC which makes it so exciting for me as a performer as for that week, as actors we have a job to craft a show and we are treated like professionals. When I first joined CTC as a cast member of West Side Story it seemed quite a scary prospect, having never previously had such an intense rehearsal schedule, but by the end of the first day, I had grown to absolutely love it. Between the accepting, familial nature of the cast itself and the pastoral support provided, I never felt out of my depth, something I was initially worried about. Doing that intensive week again this year, but as one of the older cast members, who had to welcome and look out for those new faces in the company, was an incredibly rewarding experience.

The rehearsal process following the intensive week was especially unique this year. Firstly, and most importantly, Covid had a huge impact on rehearsals. A few cast members inevitably had to isolate at different points across the two months, and the threat of a firebreak lockdown over the October half term (and consequently our performances) dampened morale. However, looking back on it, the ability of the production team to keep the cast together, really was incredible. There was a independent listener who came in for a few rehearsals for people to talk to privately, and Ali, our company manager’s, herculean effort to organise lateral flow tests meant we were able to make it to show week. The second unique aspect of this show was the costumes; I have never taken part in a show with so many costumes and costume changes. This meant we started rehearsing incostume much earlier than usual so, as early as the intensive week, I had to bring in different zip up hoodies to simulate transforming between Good Joe and Bad Joe. This certainly paid off as by the end we were able to just about pull off the 25 or so quick costume changes in the show.

I feel that to have made it to show week was a miracle in itself, but we certainly weren’t out of the woods with regard to Covid. We very sadly lost 3 cast members, who were in isolation during show week, as well as our DSM (also self-isolating), who had one of the most important jobs of the entire crew. I remember, a few hours before the Thursday show, Louis telling me very calmly that he was going to have to call the rest of the shows. It wasn’t until Saturday when I realised how close the whole show was to being called off on the Thursday, but Louis had somehow managed to pull off four performances without anyone noticing a change backstage. Show week is always very full on but is the most rewarding part of the whole experience. The added stress of Covid didn’t help as we had to transfer a whole show from a rehearsal space onto the theatre stage in two days and, as always, the technical rehearsals took a lot of time. Once again, this is where CTC’s experience in treating a youth company like professionals is so valuable, and is what makes it such a unique experience. 

Of course, I have to thank Louis for giving me such an opportunity. Every CTC show has helped me grow, not just as a performer, but as a person, and this is thanks to the generosity of a man who truly cares about youth theatre and helps us do what we love. Our House was possibly the most fun I’ve ever had working on a show, and I can’t wait to see what future opportunities CTC will provide.

Cambridge Theatre Company is managed by Cambridge Theatre Trust. Registered in England No. 11240693. Registered Charity No.1180336.
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