Tasks at a get-in can involve anything from spray-painting to heavy liftingAlessandra Rey with permission for Varsity

The “get-in”, while familiar to ADC regulars, remains a term that non-theatre hacks must smile and nod at. Those who dare to hedge a question about it risk something similar to asking a circle of rowers what a “bump” is. The get-in is the process by which all of the lighting and set gets put into place, and the show “gets in” to the theatre for that week’s run. Helping out at Mr Burns’ get-in, I was able to witness the heavily technical side of the production grow from its creative germination and attempt – to varying degrees of success – to rig lights, load weights, and paint Simpsons-esque fish.

“The childlike urge to get ‘stuck in’ united everyone there”

My sleep schedule was in tatters this deep into exam term, so getting myself to the theatre for 8.30am was motivated by the promise of an ADC breakfast, cooked in the clubroom. Finding out the lighting get-in had required a 6.30am arrival quickly humbled me as I tucked into my pain au chocolat. As everyone introduced themselves, it became apparent that there were several people not part of the team claiming to have stumbled and fallen upon the get-in. Since no one I know goes on an 8 o’clock walk around the ADC on Sunday mornings, I would attribute this to the striking sense of communal effort and camaraderie in assembling the many moving parts of a show. While I wouldn’t want to airbrush the early start, the exhausting heat of the day, or the deprivation tank the ADC becomes after around four straight hours there, the childlike urge to get “stuck in” united everyone there.

While for some of the team, the day involved more schedules and risk assessments than spray-painting and ladder-climbing, there was something cathartic about the physicality of the tasks that provided necessary escapism from a Cambridge degree. Equipped with a hard-hat and plunged into loading training, I clambered up a ladder with several other unsuspecting actors to be taught how to manoeuvre 10 kg weights, reaching across a tall drop, to balance the counterweights system. The counterweights enable set items to be hung from the ceiling. The day revealed the physically demanding tasks behind aspects of theatre that we perceive as so illusive.

“The ghost of nightmare get-ins past haunted our conversations”

While being involved in the theatre scene and having experienced get-ins at smaller spaces such as the Corpus Playroom, I had never encountered the technical complexity of ADC get-ins. Therefore, I wondered upon coming whether it would be a day embroiled in technical terms I didn’t understand, surrounded by a group of people speaking a language they weren’t used to others not knowing. Talking to the lovely technical directors made it immediately clear that this wasn’t the case. We were given explanations of procedures and encouraged to clarify any terms we didn’t understand.

There was an eagerness – desperation, perhaps – for anyone new to volunteer themselves for training. It became clear that the get-in was a prime training ground for budding technicians, willing actors, or bored student passers-by. As well as this embrace of the amateur, there was an invigorating sense of being surrounded by some incredibly experienced techies that were passionate, and knew their craft so well. While some had been lucky enough to gather experience before “Camdram”, many of these people had been trained in the Cambridge theatre scene and had worked their way to an assured understanding.


Mountain View

5, 6, 7, wait, what happens when the fouettés fall?

A certain deliriousness tends to emerge post-midday lull. This manifests in various forms, from a conversation about which Disney princess we were most like, to, as I’d heard, an acapella improv performance at the One Man, Two Guvnors get-in. There was a consensus of it being a largely smooth day – impressively running only one hour behind schedule – all down to the determination of a group of friendly, competent people. The ghost of nightmare get-ins past haunted our conversations. From what I heard, things tended to descend when people took things too seriously, or fell victim to grumpy fatigue. There were also helpless times when the ADC technology had get-in plans of its own.

The sense of illusion that we so often associate with theatre gets thrown against material reality in a get-in. The movement of the day followed all the creative and cerebral work of the past term coming into fruition. Lighting plans designed and approved weeks ago were finally put into place. The set which designers and directors envisioned is finally constructed. Actors are able to properly visualise the physical space they have been blocked around. As each member of the team chips away at the tasks, painting sections of the set scattered across the workshop, a tangible sense of satisfaction emerges. The set is gradually hoisted up towards the end of the day and the tapestry comes together.