Photography by Arina Machine with permission for Varsity

“The show Blue Workers", begins writer Jonathan Powell, “is truly a love letter to the rich culture of Cambridge student theatre.” It’s a “story about the often overlooked backstage workers,” Jonathan continues, “the ones who build sets, design costumes, and help to avert disasters, all before the curtain goes up on the first night”; about working backstage, behind the curtain, and away from the blaring stage lights.

Producer Arina Machine asks us to imagine “sitting at a bonfire, listening to people’s best stories of Cambridge theatre disasters, as a singular cohesive story on a stage and as a musical”, then, she claims, we would have Blue Workers. Arina also claims that “the entire story will make you feel nostalgic for your theatre glory days, regardless of whether you’ve graduated or not.” She adds “at its core, Blue Workers is a show about the interpersonal relationships, a high-pressure environment, and feeling under-appreciated,” as well as “the conflicts caused by opposing visions to the mundane stresses, such as the difficulty in acquiring performance rights.”

“Putting on a ‘techies musical’ has been a collective pipe dream for years”

Asked what inspired him to write this play, Jonathan also explains that “putting on a ‘techies musical’ has been a collective pipe dream for years, passed down from generation to generation of backstage workers.” He also believes that this play is “far more than a long-overdue techie spotlight - this musical is the story of every show, of every last minute crisis and success, and of all the people behind the roles that make up the amazing theatre community we have here in Cambridge.”

Jonathan also explains that Blue Workers is categorised by humour, adding that “the humour of misguided plans and melodramatic ‘villains’ are humorous, whether or not you actually know what a technical director is.” He also highlights the humour involved in his favourite part of the show, which involves “a rap battle between two members of the crew.” Describing that he has “already seen some cast members make memes about it”, he believes this scene’s “one-liners will have you laughing until you develop abs.”

“Overjoyed at the prospect of finally twiddling with the valves of a Jonathan Powell script”

Of course, Week 1 shows are notorious for their quick turnarounds, but Jonathan, Arina, and director Mia Grant haven’t let this affect rehearsals. Jonathan emphasises that he can “already see how much love there is for this musical”, with Mia adding that the cast’s “enthusiasm has been everything.” She also loves the “energy and humour they bring to what was already a crazy show,” and is also pleased to report that the “show is nowhere near as crazy as whatever Blue Workers is trying to depict.”

Miruna also added that “the character of Toni has got to be the highlight of the show.” The “absurdity of her rehearsal scenes can’t be topped,” she claims, “despite perhaps being a little uncomfortably in line with [Miruna’s] own chaotic ‘vision’ and instructions!” Iona Rogan, who plays Toni, also humorously chimed in emphasising how “overjoyed at the prospect of finally twiddling with the valves of a Jonathan Powell script [they] were.”


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Iona adds that they were later “perturbed, violated, and downright bamboozled upon discovering that [they] would be playing what [they] would hitherto be driven to see as the enemy.” As a finalist, Iona also believes that “this is likely to be [their] last show after three eventful years in the ADC’s hallowed halls, and can’t think of any better final bow than this (painfully honest) love letter to Cambridge theatre.”

Blue Workers by Jonathan Powell is showing at 11pm in the ADC from the 4th – 6th May.