CULES was founded a very very long time ago in 1958 with three main objectives: to take theatre to people who would not normally get to experience it, to raise money for charity, and to have fun doing it.
The rise of light entertainment
In its heyday in the fifties and sixties, it was considered on a par with Footlights. Performing mostly revues and sketches, it could boast such future celebrities as John Cleese and Graeme Garden amongst its members (with Flanders and Swann as honorary presidents).
In the 1970s, the focus shifted to more music-hall shows, often performed for the elderly, with members including Andy Hamilton and Douglas Adams (who joined CULES having found Footlights “aloof and rather pleased with themselves”). These were followed by musicals and revue in the 1980s by the likes of Sandi Toksvig and Prince Edward.
The society returned to its original aims, comedy and panto, in the 1990s, reinterpreting stories such as Dick Whittington, Wind in the Willows and Snow White, as well as introducing the Easter term garden performances (which were dedicated to Emma Clements, a CULES member and Cambridge student who died of cancer).
Stronger than ever
After a brief lull in the early 2000s (when at one point the society contained only a single undergraduate member, Sally Clough) CULES reemerged with a pantomime of Red Riding Hood. Its success drew more students in, and now we perform two parallel productions a term to accomodate all our members. 2003 saw the introduction of an Easter term production of four short plays around a common theme (in 2003, the theme was Shakespeare, with parodies of Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest and Macbeth).The society has gone from strength to strength since then, putting on two (or more) productions per term. We have performed plays such as A Charming Little Murder Mystery and Jeeves and Wooster, adapted stories including Cinderella and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and written original comedies like Once Upon A Time.
We’ve had our share of famous names in Cules, who generally joined us because Footlights was a bit too pretentious. Alumni who went on to lightly entertaining things include Douglas Adams, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, Sandi Toksvig, Prince Edward, John Cleese and James Needham.
CULES said goodbye to our good old Jester logo in summer 2020 and through a long and nonsense-filled voting process settled on our wonderful new logo designed by Charlotte Vine (praise their name).