By Hala Haidar, BA Global Development
On 25 March, the SOAS Drama and Musical Society will be putting on their Cabaret show in the Djam Lecture Theatre — an evening full of performances from various musicals such as ‘Cell Block Tango’ from the highly acclaimed show Chicago, The Jet Song from West Side Story, Greased Lightning from Grease, and much more!
The SOAS Drama and Musical Society was brought back to life this year by Angus Nelson and Lucy Jordan after it dissolved at the beginning of the pandemic. Angus describes how he and Lucy met ‘through sheer coincidence’ at the first late licence of the year. He contends, ‘As I walked by, I was pulled over to the table to be introduced to Lucy, as we had both been saying that we wished there was a drama society at SOAS. It was only my 5th day at SOAS and I had no idea how anything at the uni worked, however, I had 5 years of working in the acting industry when I arrived – and Lucy was in her fourth year, and had been a part of the previous drama society before it was disbanded due to Covid-19.’
Lucy states that it was a chaotic time in her life; she had just physically returned to SOAS and London for her fourth year, after spending her second year studying abroad and her third year at her home in Turkey due to Covid-19. Upon her return, most of her friends had already graduated, she was looking for a place to stay, and as a fourth-year student, she did not have time to run the society herself. Lucy shares, ‘If there was one moment that defined my uni experience it was meeting Angus that night.’
That same night, at 2:30 AM, they had decided to form the society with them acting as the two Presidents. The following day, they met up in the Starbucks at King’s Cross, filled out all required forms, and began to publicise the society. Lucy acknowledges the challenging position they were in, however, as they had missed the Freshers’ Fair, meaning that they couldn’t reach everyone interested despite advertising their society on social media and through the Students’ Union. Looking back, she says, ‘I think that was one of the biggest difficulties—reaching out to people, getting them to join the society, getting them to audition.’
Despite the challenges they faced as a new society, within the following two weeks, they had chosen to put on West Side Story and found a committee to help run the show. The committee included: ‘Adrian Altaffer volunteering to help with pretty much every area of the show, Sam Hardy as our musical Director, Lizzy Cox as our choreographer, and Katie Varoga as our stage manager,’ who managed to hold auditions, and finally cast the show. Soon enough, rehearsals had begun and everything was underway.
Unfortunately, they would soon run into various obstacles such as SOAS timetabling, which made it impossible for them to get a venue booked for the final performances, along with many other issues. Lucy contends, ‘Then we went to Christmas Break, and meanwhile, Covid-19 was getting worse and worse and there was still the venue issue, the licensing issue, we had barely any budget for costumes and props,’ and therefore, they had to make the difficult decision to cancel the show. Angus remarks, ‘The Students’ Union and Jesse Dodoo had been trying everything they could to get us a venue for the show, and it was through no fault of theirs that we had to cancel in the end, but this was of course bitterly disappointing.’
However, that was not the end. Adrian Altaffer had suggested a Cabaret show a few weeks earlier, so determined to still put something on, preparation for the Cabaret began in January. According to the Presidents, the society members were enthusiastic about adapting to this change, and despite all the issues they faced as a new society, have put in the work and cannot wait to showcase what they have been working on for the past few months.
The Cabaret will take place in the evening of 25 March, finishing in time for the cast and audience to go enjoy themselves at the late licence afterwards. Angus states, ‘I can’t wait to finally raise the curtain on the society once and for all.’ Furthermore, he notes that ‘everyone has been making a contribution to the society and it’s too many people to list, but their names will all be in the programme for the Cabaret.’
More information about the Cabaret show will be shared on the society’s Instagram (@SOASDramaSoc). Lucy says, ‘Anyone who wants to see some feel-good and sexy show tunes, just come along!’
Photo caption: Members of the SOAS Drama & Musical during one of their Saturday rehearsals. (Credit: Lucy Jordan)