Downing Dramatic Society is a flourishing society within the College, enjoying the use of Downing’s own beautiful Howard Theatre.
Our first Fresher’s Play, ‘The Accrington Pals’, was a huge success which we aim to recreate and would love you to be involved with!
"The society is always looking for people with new ideas, if you have one; we want to make it happen."
What makes the Downing Dramatic Society so special - apart from all that patently-obvious talent, vision and dedication stuff - is that we have, unlike most other Cambridge Colleges, our own beautifully-appointed theatre space. The Howard Theatre, for those of an architectural persuasion, boasts a luxurious, Italianate proscenium stage and the most comfortable seating (for around 160) this side of a Ferrari interior - and we say that with confidence as the seats were made by the same firm.
It’s what’s happening on the stage, though, that’s most important. In the past few years, DDS has presented a variety of theatrical events ranging from the classical Greek (Aeschylus’s Agamemnon), new adaptations (Gatsby), to powerful interpretations of modern works including Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden and the moving WW1 ensemble-drama, Accrington Pals by Peter Whelan, featuring a cast and crew made up entirely of 2014 Freshers. We even managed to fit in a bit of ‘promenade’ Shakespeare around the College grounds.
The current jewel in the DDS crown, though, has to be the Festival of New Writing, inaugurated in 2014. Students from across the University are invited to submit a one-act play of no more than twenty minutes in length for presentation, as one of up to ten performed over three nights in March, during which time the works will be assessed and discussed by a panel of top industry professionals from theatre and television. It’s a unique opportunity, not just for aspiring playwrights but for actors and directors to explore and develop new ideas for the stage. Last year’s event, featuring some truly outstanding new writing, was a huge success and we’re hoping for more of the same, if not even better, this time around.
Also in 2015, to kick things off in the Michaelmas Term, we’ll be presenting Shakespeare’s As You Like It at the Howard - and, we hope, beyond, as DDS is beginning to forge links with a number of London venues with a view to staging reciprocal events - along with a staged-reading in October to showcase some of the theatrical legacy of events exactly 600 years earlier at the Battle of Agincourt (actually, we’ll just miss St. Crispin’s Day on the 25th but it’ll certainly get a mention).
The society is growing apace and, as such, its members are constantly devising new ways to challenge themselves and their audiences. There’s a standing, open invitation to all Downing students to get involved; that play you’ve always wanted to put on, to write, or just to see performed..? Let us know, persuade us it’s a must-see then set about transforming it from mere imagination into theatrical 'reality' via the unlimited potential of the Howard stage.
Be in no doubt, mind, that DDS will be plotting something else weird, wonderful and wildly ambitious while you’re thinking about it.
Steve Bennett, Senior Treasurer of the Downing Dramatic Society
Josh McClure (email@example.com)
The Importance of Being Earnest, 2017 (Freshers' Play)