About us

An annual competitive festival for one-act playS

ABOUT US AND OUR VENUE

A little bit about our festival

Now over 50 years old, the Cambridge Festival of Drama is an annual competitive festival for one-act plays held at the famous ADC Theatre in Cambridge. In the space of a few days you can expect to be entertained by some of the best local talent from around the local area, and sometimes beyond.

We employ a professional adjudicator to provide feedback on all the plays, culminating in an awards presentation on the final night where teams and individuals are awarded for their achievements. More details about the awards are shown towards the bottom of this page.

Britain's oldest University playhouse - the ADC Theatre

Located in Park Street, plays have been presented on the site since 1855. This is when the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club (CUADC) was founded, and the society met and performed in the back room of the Hoop Inn.

The coaching inn stood almost exactly where the ADC Theatre stands today, suffering harder times when the advent of rail travel badly affected business. By the beginning of the 1850s, most of the inn was owned by William Ekin, a brewer and wine merchant. In 1855 Ekin let the CUADC two upstairs rooms, which were accessible from Park Street, or through the back entrance on Jesus Lane.

The ADC Theatre continues to be the centre of student drama in Cambridge, hosting ambitious and professional standard productions. Recent graduates continue to go on to great things; performing in films and on the West End, touring as comedians, and working in all areas of theatre. It also plays host to various amateur groups such as BAWDS, Combined Actors of Cambridge and Festival Players.

The ADC Theatre can also be credited as the place where the likes of Emma Thompson, Sir Ian McKellen and Sam Mendes (amongst many others) learnt their trade. It’s quite nice to be able to say you’ve performed in the same venue as such greats in the entertainment business. Who knows – this may be the place you will be also be able to say is the place where you started your own journey.

In 2019 the theatre underwent another big refurbishment programme which included the installation of a new lighting system, cooling for the auditorium, new seats and a fresh lick of paint.

the awards

Eight awards up for grabs

As our festival has a competitive element, we have a range of awards that are awarded by the adjudicator for outstanding achievements in various categories.

A note on acting awards

When it comes to our acting awards we have taken the decision to not make any distinction between male or female actors, honouring current theatrical parlance. Similarly there is no separate award for actors under the age of 18.

Our festival is open to teams of any age and gender, and we belive that everyone should be able to compete on the same basis. Some teams may be entirely composed of young actors, and some may include both young people and adults in their casts.  It is now possible for any team or participant to win any award without restricitions on eligibility.

A note on technical awards

When it comes to technical achievement, the Cambridge Festival used to have different awards for sound, lighting, costume, set and overall stage presentation.  We have since combined them into one award for techical achievement.  This can be awarded for any of the technical categories which fall into the All English Theatre Festivals (AETF) marking scheme for stage presentation.  The award is intended to acknowledge creativity and expertise in all aspects of a play other than acting.

— First place

Awarded to the team with the most points accumulated from their entire adjudication

— Second place

Awarded to the team with the second-most points accumulated from their entire adjudication

— Third place

Awarded to the team with the third-most points accumulated from their entire adjudication

— Best individual performance

Awarded to a male or female actor who gives the best individual performance

— Best supporting performance

Awarded to a male or female actor who gives the best performance in a supporting role

— Best technical achievement

Awarded to the team that demonstrates excellence in any stage presentation category

— Best new play

Awarded to the author of a new piece of writing at its first ever festival performance

— Adjudicators award

The adjudicator can use this award for anything that they wish – often for things not included under other award categories

The national drama festivals association

The Cambridge Festival of Drama is a member of the National Drama Festivals Association which means groups may be eligible to take part in further events and festivals should their production be successful at Cambridge.

You can read more information on the NDFA website.

National Drama Festivals Association logo