The Amateur Dramatic Club was formed in 1855 by a group of friends a couple of years after the repeal of the University Statute forbidding drama. Originally based in two small upstairs rooms of The Hoop Inn, it wasn’t until 1882 that the club bought the freehold of the building on the same site that the ADC Theatre occupies today. The club began to gain national respect by the early twentieth century, but a disastrous fire in 1933 destroyed much of the theatre and made national headlines. Thanks to the support of alumni (and the King!) it took just 18 months to rebuild what was lost and the present building was reopened. Problems struck once more in 1970 when the club’s finances worsened as they had to fund redevelopment and maintenance to the building. After long negotiations, the University took the leasehold of the building for a small rent in 1973 and paid off the club’s debts.
With the university running the operation of the theatre, now employing four permanent members of staff, the club were free to concentrate on the productions themselves. As the resident company of the theatre, CUADC are given guaranteed slots at the ADC and continue to be the largest drama society in Cambridge.
You can find out more about CUADC by visiting our archives at the University Library, or by contacting our archivist.