Daniel Hilton for Varsity

There is probably a Facebook confession page for just about every college, subject, and society in Cambridge (sorry Edu Soc, you will get there eventually). With pages like Crushbridge, Susfess and Pelikind, some of the names get pretty creative. My personal favourites have to be Gonville and Caius’ Spill the Baius, Girton’s Girthfessions and the Law Faculty’s Law Facul-Tea. Confession pages can be a place to share jokes, concerns, advice, and, of course, a few soppy love professions. While confession pages are usually all fun, games, and academic burnout, there is a dark side. I spoke to the admin of ADCbridge (referred to as Admin for anonymity), a recently-closed confession page for all things Cambridge theatre and uncovered some truly disgusting revelations. The closure of ADCBridge was a lot more serious than I had originally thought. Some of these atrocious confessions should have really been left untyped.

“It was called ‘ADCbridge 3: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’, and that was genuinely my intentions for the page”

Ironically, the most recent version of ADCbridge was called ADCbridge 3: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. While the page promoted wholesome, light-hearted posts, its submissions became increasingly negative, Admin tells me. There had been at least two other ADCbridge accounts, both of which supposedly had run-ins with legal threats and libel cases made against them. ADCbridge 3 was created by Admin after the others were shut down. They explain to me that they hoped to create a positive space for people to freely share their concerns. They concede now that these aims were optimistic. They even received messages from previous admins warning them of the threats and harassment they had received while running the page - but this time would be different, right? Within only nine months, the page would be shut down at the beginning of November 2023.

“I actually don’t wanna be running the page if people like this are in the community”

Many ADCbridge submissions were never posted. Admin received submissions that bordered on sexual harassment, blatantly antisemetic opinions on how “Judaism has no place in theatre”, and rascist remarks about how “people should be happy with the roles they can get as a black actor.” This goes beyond ‘a difference of opinion’ and enters the territory of hate crimes. The particularly horrific ‘confessions’ were not posted. However, Admin still had to read them. Without an admin team like other pages, they had to bear the burden of the page themselves. Faced with particularly horrendous submissions, they often turned to close friends for support. This level of strain on the admins of confession pages is not healthy. Admin explains, “it got to the point where I was like, maybe this community isn’t worth helping.” They decided that the page was breeding the worst type of harmful narratives, a far stretch from what they had once thought would be a productive, safe space.

“I think it was really lovely to see the unbridled joy people had for each other”

The page wasn’t all bad. Admin describes some of their favourite types of submission that praised and supported people in theatre. At ADCbridge’s best, anonymity made posts feel sincere; their only intention being to make someone else feel good. Admin also expresses a love for the jokes and memes that were occasionally submitted. The less serious side of ADCbridge seemed to be lost nearer its end but these were some of the most important submissions. It is a true shame the negativity destroyed the glimmers of admiration of each other in this community. These hidden joys were, as Admin describes, “Cambridge theatre at its best… A beautiful, beautiful place filled with support and love and appreciation of each other’s artistic talents.” Even the more sensitive debates, when approached correctly, were productive. Admin tells me they were proud to see the page creating active changes in the community such as ADC show selection and the Marlowe Showcase access issues. The page allowed people to share concerns without the fear of personal attack, making it a safe place for education and discussion. Is there any way we can save the positives of ADCbridge? Admin tells me after being away from the page, they have slightly more hope in the theatre community but bringing back the page seems like a bad move.

“I think due to the nature of the shows we put on and the nature of putting yourself out there as a performer, there is a vulnerability that which doesn’t necessarily exist in, say, rowing”

After the ADCbridge closure, more theatre-based posts have been appearing on other pages like Camfess and Queerfess. These are lovely to see, but the pages don’t have the same understanding of the theatre scene as ADCbridge. Admin expresses concern about how submissions will be dealt with if the admin teams of these pages are outside the theatre world. Maybe it is because there is a team of admins dealing with submissions rather than a single person that the other big confession pages have managed to deal with the mental strain Admin experienced. Could it also be an issue specific to theatre? Theatre is inherently ‘cut-throat’ and competitive which might result in more hostility. After at least three attempts at the page, maybe this Cambridge Theatre Facebook Utopia was doomed from the beginning.


Mountain View

Footlights Spring Revue flounders and flops

When the interview ends, I am in utter shock at the extent of the harassment, discrimination, and negativity that lay behind the scenes of ADCbridge. Looking at Facebook, I can already see yet another iteration of the page being formed - ADCBridge 4: What could go wrong? Is it tempting fate? Is there a place for theatre confession pages? I would like to believe the majority of us have good intentions but after hearing what Admin had to endure, I’m not so sure anymore. I’m not here to tell you what the right decision is, but maybe Admins’ experience should act as a warning. Confession page or not, let’s be decent people. Pretty please?