Meet our New Writing Officer
Next up on our series of 'Meet the Committee' posts is our new writing officer, Jasper Cresdee-Hyde, talking hectic Cambridge terms, producing new writing nights in lockdown, and the joys of robot dogs.
When did you first get involved with theatre?
Back in Year 6 I made the foolish and fairly incomprehensible decision to audition for the end-of-year play, a show entitled ‘Zoom’ - prescient - which saw small-time family man Toby Tortoise have to run a marathon to stop the evil property developer Harvey Hare from buying the land and destroying their home. To mine, and everyone’s, surprise, I was cast as the Hare, decided acting was quite fun, and joined the local Youth Theatre. It’s been all downhill since then.
What kind of theatre do you like?
Big, fun, ambitious, confident, radical, subversive. There’s a whole sea of people every night to fire you up with energy, and vice versa - go all in!
What was your experience in Cambridge Theatre before getting involved with the Marlowe Society?
Mad and incredibly busy, always writing, directing and starring in multiple shows at once, never stopping for rest… I imagine the rest of my time here won’t be much different!
What prompted you to get involved with the Society?
Our wonderful Annika was directing me in ‘Blue Stockings’ when I saw she was assuming the Marlowe Presidency; wanting to keep working with her and keen to carry on Benedict’s (my predecessor in the role) legacy of promoting new writing across Cambridge Theatre, I figured I would give it a shot.
What does your role involve?
I run ‘HATCH’ every term, the biggest night for new writing in the Cambridge Theatre calendar, which means curating and producing a slate of short new plays from a variety of writers, and meeting with them post-performance to discuss what worked and what didn’t. I also host The Marlowe Writers’ Group every week, an informal space to chat about writing and hash out ideas. More broadly, with Marlowe's mission statement of promoting new writing across the university, I’d like to be someone whom all new writers can go to for advice and information on developing and staging their scripts!
How did you cope with the challenge of keeping the society active in lockdown?
I produced the first ever HATCH Online, which saw our highest-ever number of submissions and a collection of plays produced as films, readings and radio plays in just a matter of days, garnering over 300 views on our YouTube channel. (enough to sell out the ADC Theatre and then some!) Through the magic of Zoom, I could also keep Writers’ Group going; during Easter, each session was an informal discussion themed around a different aspect of writing - like structure, and dialogue, and so on. I’ve kept Writers’ Group going over summer, largely to give us all something to do, checking in on and chatting about one another’s scripts week in, week out.
What are your plans for the Society over the next year and what are you most excited about?
More HATCH, more Writers’ Group, more workshops and collaborations with other societies to foster new writing!
What was your best theatre experience?
Besides the dizzying heights of playing Harvey Hare in ‘Zoom,’ co-writing and co-directing ‘Doctor Whom’ in Lent 2020 @ Pembroke New Cellars was a dream come true. Spoofing my favourite thing ever to rapturous, sold-out audiences every night, driving a remote-controlled K-9 (sorry, ‘Robot Dog’) around the stage, getting a 5* review on the first night, making loads of close friends and giving a bunch of performers their Cambridge Theatre debuts - it was simply wonderful. Plus, at that point, none of us had ever heard of COVID-19.
What about your most disastrous one?
In the words of Professor River Song… spoilers!
Favourite rehearsal snack?
I’m prone to just drinking excessive litres of water rather than eating, BUT one particular show rehearsal - for which I was exhausted and miserable - I indulged in two of my favourite comfort foods: Yo Sushi’s Pumpkin Katsu Curry, and a Sainsbury’s Austrian Smoked Cheese bar. Mmmmmm.
Best prop you’ve ever used?
How could it not be the aforementioned Robot Dog? Such a good boy.
Do you want to work in theatre later on?
I want to be a writer, actor, director, whatever - working in theatre, but also film, TV, books, and so on!
What advice would you have for incoming freshers?
Take any and all opportunities for shows, and try to make friends with everyone you meet. You’ll thank yourself later down the line!