Cuppers is a drama festival for undergraduate and postgraduate freshers organised jointly by OUDS and TAFF. Teams from the different colleges each put on a short play in the Burton Taylor Studio which are judged over the course of the week by the two drama committees. A shortlist is then put through to the final where they compete for various awards, including ‘Best Sound’, ‘Best Lighting’, ‘Best Design’.
All abilities are welcome, and beginners are encouraged - the OUDS and TAFF committees will be available to help you throughout the whole process, making it a fun environment in which to stage your first Oxford show.
Get in touch with your college drama rep, who’ll be able to give you more info on how to enter, tips for your show, and can help you find other freshers who’d be interested in joining your team.
Gather together a team from your college and start thinking about what you want your play to be: you can do extracts from an existing play, but many teams decide to write their own.
Enter by filling out and submitting the entry form (available to download here, MT19) accompanied by the £35 entry fee, which you will be able to obtain from your college’s JCR/arts society/funding body.
Organise rehearsals and design your show! You are allowed to spend up to £50 (your college should also give you this) on your show which many shows will find they don’t need. Do as much preparation as you can, because you have a very limited amount of time in the venue.
You will have a 20 minute tech session in the BT with two TAFF duty technicians at the beginning of Cuppers week. This is not a time for rehearsal, but for the teams to make sure they have the right props and furniture and for the cuppers technicians to programme in the lighting cues and test the sound with the duty technician.
You will have been assigned a performance slot which involves a 10 minute get in, the performance, and a very quick get out. It is important that you do not run over, since the cuppers schedule needs to accommodate a large number of teams. The BT seats an audience of 50, so make sure to invite plenty of people from college to come support the team!
If you are shortlisted for the final, you will perform again on the Saturday. Awards will be given out at a social following the performances.
Designing for Cuppers
Designing on such a small budget for a show for which you have only 20 minutes to tech and 10 minutes to set up can be very challenging, but simplicity is key. In the weeks leading up to cuppers, try to see at least one student production in the Burton Taylor Studio so you can see what the venue is like and how other student designers have handled it.