FF – Access

Photo copyright belongs to Lisa Fox


When I first climbed the ladder, I thought my arms would drop off. My guide raced up and down monkey-like, but I was excited and very slightly scared. I was soon a monkey too: ascending or descending with a speaker in one hand and a loop of cable over my shoulder; in the pitch dark or the pouring rain.

They’ve put a lift in now. And you probably don’t have to climb through a window at the top. Accessibility, they call it.

Bet they can’t beat the musos to the bar at the end of a show any more, though.


This is a rare memoir from me. As a first-term student at Cambridge, I stumbled into technical theatre at the ADC. My famous peers (Rebecca Hall, Eddie Redmayne, Dan Stevens) might mostly have been on the stage, but to me, the ADC was about a small group of technicians, each of whom ran multiple shows a term, hiding in the shadows and whispering on ‘cans’.

During the show, the only access to the lighting and sound boxes, where I spent so many evenings, was up a black ladder bolted to the outside wall. The bottom was near the bar fire escape doors, handy for last-minute dashes up from the sofa to the box, and even better for a cool sharp exit before the musos could climb out of the pit. The lift is better, of course. But it post-dates me and therefore I disapprove of it on principle.


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17 responses to “FF – Access

  1. The glamour of Cambridge Uni days! There must be a few stories to tell from those days.

  2. Brilliant insight into a small part of Cambs. Used to visit back in the late 80’s early 90’s, slept in my beetle on numerous occasions, the buildings of Cambridge resonate with human history don’t they.

    • It’s certainly somewhere it’s easier to imagine bygone eras, surrounded by buildings that saw the rise and fall of a lot of things people thought would last forever.

  3. Yeah! Namby pamby concessions to progress, who needs them? I’m not even sure the invention of the printing press was a good idea

  4. Oh, Jen. I am giving you triple credit for this gem. First the fine memoir story, well done.
    Second, the Extroduction. I was third string stage crew in high school and occasional ‘cover’, so I can relate.
    Thirdly, in a couple of short pieces, you added several words to my vocab. Thank you.

  5. This was great, Jen. Things change (and are surely safer) but the stories are way better from before!

  6. Wow, Jen! I liked the story and liked it even better after reading your afterword. Sounds like exciting times for sure.

  7. What great memories you have. Thank you for sharing them. I’m glad you added the notes – very helpful.

  8. Dear Jen,

    I must admit I’m impressed by the names of your cohorts. 😉 Nicely written and thank you for the epilogue.



    • I take no credit for them, I’m afraid. Dan’s the only one I remember speaking to, and I doubt he remembers it! Some of my true cohort, the ones backstage and off it, have made a success in the theatre / movie worlds too, but their names are less well-known.

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