The College’s enviable on-site Performing Arts facilities offer a platform from which to present some of the highest quality music and drama in Cambridge. It’s little wonder that Downing students enjoy - and continue to enhance - a reputation for artistic ambition and achievement unsurpassed throughout the University.

The Howard Theatre

Contrary to the accepted ‘wisdom’ of student theatre having to make the most of any available space, the Downing drama community celebrates the unrivalled quality of the magnificent, purpose-built Howard Theatre. With seating for around 160, its glorious Italianate proscenium space offers a professional-level theatre experience for audiences and performers alike. To present their work in the Howard gives Downing students a special insight into what ‘a night at the theatre’ is all about.

Downing Dramatic Society holds a position front and centre in the artistic life of the College. While dedicated to presenting high-quality theatre that embraces the heavyweight classics; Shakespeare, Sophocles, Ibsen and the much-loved comedies of Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward, DDS is equally committed to showcasing the best of contemporary drama, not least in its annual Festival of New Writing, a three-night arts extravaganza featuring live music and up to a dozen short plays written, directed and performed by Cambridge students. The works are then discussed in a lively open forum with the audience and a distinguished panel of industry professionals.

Drama in Cambridge…and Beyond

While the myriad famous names to grace the University’s ADC Theatre might fill a book, Downing can be rightly proud of its own contribution to that number. Among many others, Sir Trevor Nunn, John Cleese, Thandie Newton, Andy Hamilton and Michael Apted all got their start at Downing College. It’s safe to say that list will keep getting longer.

Past productions