Dear Freshers: Why Drama Cuppers should definitely be on your to-do list this term


For those of you coming to Oxford for the first time this October, Cuppers is a word to add to

your vocabulary, alongside Bop, Bod and SubFusc. It normally refers to inter-collegiate sporting

tournaments, but luckily for the less sporty amongst us, there is also Drama Cuppers. Teams

from each college – made up of up to 10 Freshers – are given a couple of weeks, and up to £50,

to put on a 30 minute performance, to be performed in 5th week. At the end of the week,

shows chosen by the judging panel perform again for the Best of Cuppers, and awards are given

out for various categories. As a wistful second year, filled with nostalgia for this time last year,

I’d like to take a moment (and a few hundred words) to point out why Drama Cuppers is a

brilliant concept, and something definitely worth getting involved in.

Firstly, Drama Cuppers is unique, as the only Cuppers competition solely open to Freshers. This

makes it all the more worth taking part, as there’s only one chance! It’s also great fun; Cuppers

gives you the chance to be really creative, whether you devise a completely new piece or

attempt to whittle down a classic into a mere 30 minute show. On top of that, the award for

best marketing also gives rise to a lot of imaginative ideas. It’s a really good way to make friends

(and enemies), it feels good to be able to represent your college, and to feel a sense of

achievement at having put something together by the time some people are still getting over

their Freshers’ Flu. Unlike its sporting equivalents, Drama Cuppers becomes something of a

festival, and it’s really exciting to see it take over Oxford’s beloved 50 seat black box theatre,

The Burton Taylor Studio, for a whole week. In this sense, it’s like the friendlier younger sister of

the university’s competitive new writing festival.

It also acts as a brilliant introduction to student drama. Each team is completely in charge (of

casting, directing, producing, lighting, budgeting and marketing), areas which many people

don’t get to experience in school drama, and great experience to get under your belt so soon

into the year. Yet all this comes with very little of the usual hassle of putting on a play. In normal

circumstances, putting on a show at the BT would involve putting together a bid, going for

meetings, and generally being a lot more prepared. During Cuppers, however, plays that didn’t

exist just a couple of weeks earlier are performed to sold-out audiences. Essentially, it is the

best of both worlds.

All in all, Drama Cuppers is an exciting and memorable way to start your first term at Oxford:

an opportunity to make great friends and be creative. Of course, the offspring of only a few

weeks rehearsal and limited funding and running time may not be miraculous, but the

experience will be priceless. It may also be the only time you can justify standing in just a slip in

front of your College Chaplain…


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