ADC Theatre Archive

Poster for production of The White Devil, performed 29 January-2 February 2002 (image courtesy of CUADC)

The White Devil, performed 29 January-2 February 2002 (image © CUADC)

A project to catalogue the archive of the ADC Theatre has recently been completed and the catalogue is now available online.

The ADC Theatre is Britain’s oldest University playhouse. Plays have been presented on the site since 1855 when the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club (CUADC) was founded and the Club met and performed in the back room of the Hoop Inn on Jesus Lane. The coaching inn stood almost exactly where the ADC Theatre stands today.

The theatre was run as a private members’ club by the CUADC but owing to growing financial difficulties it was agreed in August 1973 that the theatre would be leased to the University of Cambridge for 75 years. Although the theatre continues to be owned by CUADC, it is currently run as the smallest department of the University who have assumed responsibility for its management and maintenance. The CUADC, alongside Cambridge Footlights and Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society, remain as resident companies of the theatre.

Poster for production of Twelfth Night, performed 4-8 October 1994 (image courtesy of CUADC)

Twelfth Night, performed 4-8 October 1994 (image © CUADC)

The ADC Theatre Archive contains records from August 1973 onwards. These include some records of theatre administration, production management, and marketing literature but the collection is predominantly comprised of material relating to productions and performances staged at the theatre from August 1973, for example, applications to direct, flyers, posters, programmes, photographs and reviews.

The ADC Theatre has helped to launch the careers of many in the theatre and entertainment industry and no doubt the archive will be of interest to those curious about early performances but it also offers a rich insight into the nature of student drama and comedy over the last forty years and the differing presentations of oft-repeated productions.


Karen Davies, Archivist


  • Chrissy Turner

    Do you have any photos from the Perse School joint productions of Pygmalion in 1983 or 84?

  • Dear Karen

    I am retiring and sorting out my papers. I was active in the ADC in the late 1970s and have some things that may be of interest (scripts for shows, a few photos of productions); would you be interested in taking them, please?


    Paul Hartle

    • Dear Paul
      Sorry for the very late reply. Thank you for your offer. We would be interested in having the material. Would it be possible that you could send a quick email to our departmental email with just a brief description of what you have and I will forward it to the correct person? Our email is
      Many thanks
      Frank Bowles
      Archivist, Collections and Services

  • I have a relative who was, I believe, involved in a production of The Cherry Orchard at the ADC in 1946. Do you have any information on this production?
    Many thanks.

  • Thanks very much to Jacqueline Cox from the University Library Archives – it seems that there is a copy of the programme, which I hope to see soon!

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