This is a timeline of the general process of being in a show as an actor. This is what the standard experience will look like:
Auditions – for shows within the first half of term (Weeks 1-5), auditions will usually take place within the final weeks of the previous term. For shows within the second half of term (Weeks 5-8), auditions will usually open in the first week or so of the new term, although some larger-scale shows such as Lent Term Musical and Footlights Pantomime might hold auditions the previous term. Keep an eye out on Camdram and the Cambridge Theatre Facebook group to know exactly when auditions open for all shows. The audition process can often take 2-3 weeks for a final decision to be made, although some smaller-scale shows can sometimes have a turnaround as low as 1 week.
Rehearsals – rehearsals will usually begin as soon as possible after the final decisions regarding casting are made. The first rehearsal is almost always a full-cast readthrough, which is an opportunity for the entire cast to meet and do an initial sit-down table read to get acquainted with the script and talk through the director’s vision. Rehearsal periods can be as long as 6-8 weeks, with initial readthroughs and first rehearsals for shows earlier in the term often taking place over zoom during the vacations. Rehearsals will become more frequent the closer to the show you get, and will evolve from more specific scene and character based rehearsals to general run throughs.
Week before the show – by now you should really know all your lines! This is the time for runthroughs and a sitzprobe for musicals (a full sing through of the show with the band). The tech team often come the these full show rehearsals to help prepare for the tech and dress whilst also having the ‘paper tech’ meeting to annotate the script with every cue.
Get-in – one of the most essential days of the show process, your get-in will take place the Sunday before your show opens. On this day, the entire cast and crew is required to be at the theatre for almost the entire day to help out with installing and building set, readying the dressing room, and sometimes might even help with things like rigging lights (under careful instruction of the prod and tech teams – no experience or knowledge is required from the actors!) Get-ins are usually fun days and are a great opportunity to bond with not only the rest of the cast but also the tech team for your show, who you might not have had the opportunity to meet properly before this day.
Tech day – the day after your get-in, the Monday before the show opens, will be your tech day. You will spend this day running through the show on the stage extremely slowly, giving the lighting, sound, and stage management teams a chance to learn their cues and ensure everything looks as expected and works logistically with the movements of the actors.
Dress rehearsal/full run through – the day of opening night, Tuesday, will be used as a full dress run. The cast and crew will run the show the entire way through without stopping, in costume, exactly as the show is expected to be performed on the night. This gives all teams the final chance to iron out any problems and ensures that everyone knows what they’ll be doing during the performance.
Show week – shows generally run from Tuesday through to Saturday, meaning 5 performances. You will only be required at the theatre from your calltime (usually about an hour before the start time, maybe longer if you have a very intricate costume/hair and makeup) until the end of the show. This is the most fun part! You get to see all your hard work pay off.
Get-out – After your last performance finishes on the Saturday, it will be all hands on deck for every member of the cast, prod, and tech teams to completely deconstruct the set, rigging, and tidy the dressing rooms and theatre. The idea is to basically make sure you ‘leave no trace’ of your show in the theatre so that the next show can come in the following Sunday morning and find a lovely clean blank canvas to start setting up for their own get-in. Get-outs can be long and usually go until quite late at night, but the atmosphere is always great and it can be fun when done efficiently and everyone works as a team (make sure you listen carefully to the techies!).
Aftershow party – immediately after the get-out, there is usually a cast party (for the ADC mainshow this is in the ADC bar) that can run for the rest of the night until the early hours of the morning. Relax, have some fun, and unwind with your cast and crewmates, reflecting on how amazing of a performance you’ve pulled off!