- March 2019
The Downing Dramatic Society presents A Festival of New Writing 2019!
Come and join us at the Howard Theatre for three nights of short plays written, directed and performed by Cambridge students. A panel of industry experts will judge each night, providing invaluable feedback for our student writers. It's a festival that promises to showcase the very best of original writing that Cambridge theatre has to offer.
Judges to be confirmed.
Praise for A Festival of New Writing 2018:
"The future of new writing in Cambridge continues to look pretty bright." ***1/2 (Varsity)
- March 2019
This is Aron Linklater’s living history project for school - an attempt to capture some of the Orkney old world before it succumbs to the 21st Century. It’s also a story about his grandfather, a local fisherman, and his conspiracy theories. It’s also a story about Avery, a girl recently displaced from New Mexico who finds herself in Stromness. It’s also a ceilidh. It’s also a poetry recital. It’s Star Jelly.
Debuting at the Downing Festival of New Writing
- February 2019
In his small pub in the northern English town of Oldham, Harry is something of a local celebrity. But what's the second-best hangman in England to do on the day they've abolished hanging?
Amongst the cub reporters and pub regulars dying to hear Harry’s reaction to the news, his old assistant Syd and the peculiar Mooney lurk with very different motives for their visit.
- November 2018
"Under Milk Wood" was Dylan Thomas's last major work. This magically poetic "Play for Voices" records, with humour and pathos, a day in the life of a tiny village fishing community; its dreams, its scandals and its secrets.
Join Captain Cat, the blind sea captain, tormented by his drowned shipmates, who long to enjoy the pleasures of the world again. Share Mog Edwards' and Myfanwy Price's dreams of each other, Mr. Waldo's visions of his childhood and failed marriages, Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard's instructions for her deceased husbands and much more - all with musical accompaniment.
- November 2018
“It’s been there two weeks.
Just sitting there.
In the middle of the pavement…”
Matthew is painfully average.
He lives in a featureless room in a high-rise flat. He has a job he doesn’t understand, neighbours he can hear through paper-thin walls and a little brother awaiting execution for murder.
But none of that matters to Matthew. He's too busy panicking over a table that has appeared on the street outside. No one will touch it. No one will take it away.
And he just can't understand why it's there.
I Need You To Be Quiet Now is an ambitious one-man show exploring obsession and the conversations we try to avoid.
- October 2018
You’re six years old. Mum’s in hospital. Dad says she’s ‘done something stupid’. She finds it hard to be happy.
So you start to make a list of everything that’s brilliant about the world. Everything that’s worth living for.
Kung Fu Movies
Laughing so hard you shoot milk out your nose
You leave it on her pillow. You know she’s read it because she’s corrected your spelling. Soon, the list will take on a life of its own.
A beautifully funny play about depression and the lengths we will go to for those we love.
- June 2018
'If he forsake me not, I never die,
For in his looks I see eternity,
And he'll make me immortal with a kiss.'
Marlowe's visceral, lyrical reworking of Book IV of Virgil's Aeneid breathes new life into this ancient story with the psychological intensity of Elizabethan drama.
Troy has been burned to the ground and Aeneas is a prince turned refugee. He and his men are soon shipwrecked and wash up on the shores of Carthage, home to the powerful Dido. In a world of warring gods and clashing empires, the two plunge into a passionate love affair. But as Aeneas faces mounting pressure to follow his destiny and found a new city on Italian soil, Dido fears she will lose everything and resolves to take drastic action.
- May 2018
A short production presenting highlights of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes with dancers and orchestra
Prélude à l'Après-midi d'un faune by Debussy
Selections from Les Sylphides by Chopin
Entractes by Weaver
Renard by Stravinsky
The Swan by Saint-Saëns
- March 2018
Downing Festival of New Writing is back for the fourth year running! Hosted annually by Downing Dramatic Society. With nine independent, student-written plays running over three nights, come and enjoy one of the biggest new writing events in Cambridge performed in Downing College’s beautiful Howard Theatre.
- February 2018
Think traditional, English ‘whodunnit’, complete with an Agatha Christie style of setting, plot and characters, but with a twist. Characters including an aged rear admiral, a bitchy aristocrat and a doddering old archaeologist along with a butler gather at an old country house for a black-tie dinner during a storm, each of them with archetypical personalities bigger than the last. However, there is blackmailer amongst them, and he systematically reveals the compromising and dark secrets of the guests, before turning up dead. Each of them is suspect, but Whodunnit?
- February 2018
Is it possible to put on a show in 36 hours? We don't know but we sure will try!
Teams of writers, directors and actors must write, rehearse and put on plays on a theme in the space of just 36 hours. This is theatrical collaboration on a scale not seen anywhere else, pushing the whole team to the limit and creating unforgettable performances.
- November 2017
All BME production
A gender-bent twist on one of Shakespeare's best-loved comedies - if you didn't think Twelfth Night was confusing enough already! Violo and his twin sister Sebastia are victims of a shipwreck. When Violo washes up on a strange land, alone and desperate, he realises the best way to get work with the Duchess Orsina is to dress as a woman, Cesaria. Orsina, who is madly in love with the Countess Olivia, sends Violo/Cesaria to deliver her love messages to Olivia. Olivia ends up falling for Violo/Cesaria instead, while Violo begins to realise his own budding feelings for Orsina. Further chaos and confusion ensue as Olivia's household staff and relatives hatch a plot to humiliate her stuffy housekeeper, and events come to a head when Sebastia arrives on the island and is mistaken for Cesaria!
Join us for a fun and modern take on Shakespeare's classic!
- November 2017
'Love Letters' was premiered in New York in 1989. After revised by a writer from Taiwan, its first show in Mainland China was in 2005, where thousands of audiences were attracted to the theatre. The drama has only two leading roles, and the transcript is based on their letters in more than forty years.
Downing Dramatic Society and Cambridge University Chinese Drama Society have the pleasure to present Love Letters in November, and sincerely invites you to enjoy this drama with us.
This production will be in Chinese (Mandarin) with English subtitles.
- October 2017
In a time and space where the public house has long since been obviated, the last bar in town is still in business. Unending instalments of diuretic bliss are handed out to the clientele while veteran compere Sydney Diazepam presents a cabaret of things almost forgotten. It's a stable picture, but with the arrival of the enigmatic Viscera Skye those in attendance are dazed and struggle to maintain their own dreary perspectives. Welcome to Mist.
"The ArcSoc of cam theatre" - Saskia Ross
"Is this post-Cambridge Theatre?" - Zoe Black (Fletcher Players President 2017-???)
"Love yourself." - Thomas Warwick
- June 2017
Rights kindly provided by Samuel French.
- March 2017
Downing Festival of New Writing is back for the third year running! Hosted annually by Downing Dramatic Society. With ten independent, student-written plays running over three nights, come and enjoy one of the biggest new writing events in Cambridge performed in Downing College’s beautiful Howard Theatre. At the end of each evening, the writers will receive a live feedback session from a group of industry professionals and experts, following which, at the end of the festival one play will receive a festival prize of £100, along with the promise of further development from the society. Our judges this year include Tanya Ronder (Playwright: RSC, National Theatre); Edward 'Chips' Hardy (Writer & Producer: Taboo BBC One, father of Academy Award nominee Tom Hardy) and David McDermott (Award-winning Screenwriter: BBC, ITV, Channel 4). With scripts which range from verse to black comedy, and a judging panel packed with interesting names, sample some of the best student writing Cambridge has to offer.
This year's selections are as follows:
Curriculum Vitae by Jenny O'Sullivan
Frank and the Baby by Johannes Black
Abba, mamma by Eloïse Poulton
Oedipus Rex by Beatriz Santos
Greater Love Hath No Man Than This by Isaac Jordan
Ava by Maya Yousif
The Stone Cold Loser by Edith Franklin
Waiting by Isla Cowan
Thy Neighbour by Charlotte Cromie
Candy Hymns by Amelie Lasker
- February 2017
Come down and support the Downing freshers in The Importance of Being Earnest! The latest production by the Downing Dramatic Society.
The Importance of Being Earnest is the most renowned of Oscar Wilde’s comedies. The story of two bachelors, John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, who create alter egos named Ernest to escape their tiresome lives. They attempt to win the hearts of two women who, conveniently, claim to only love men called Ernest. The pair struggle to keep up with their own stories and become tangled in a tale of deception, disguise and misadventure.
- November–December 2016
"You're my prize possession, why can't I watch you ?... You're mine"
Nora Helmer years earlier committed a forgery in order to save the life of her dictatorial husband Torvald. Now she is being blackmailed and lives in fear of her husband finding out and of the shame such a revelation would bring to his career. But when the truth comes out, Nora is shocked to learn where she really stands in her husband's esteem. A play that was once banned for daring to depict a woman defying her husband "A Doll's House is considered to be one of the first "feminist" plays, challenging the Victorian ideal of a woman's role in marriage and revolutionising the portrayal of women on the stage.
- October 2016
‘An amateur performance is not teamwork. It is a free-for-all among a dozen egos, and the ego that gets there firstest with the mostest wins.’
For fifty years, Michael Green’s dramatic manual parody 'The Art of Coarse Acting' has been a classic work of comic genius that is all too relatable for anyone involved in amateur theatre. Now, it is being brought into the environment it pokes fun at and lays bare – the stage.
A non-stop, breakneck hour of madcap guidance on how to be the best worst amateur dramatics society you possibly can, dealing with everything from stage deaths to stock characters, from unhelpful prompters to distraught directors to even distraughter writers, from Shakespearian jokes to collapsing scenery to making the most of a non-speaking part.
‘Have you ever seen an entire box set slowly teeter inwards and bury Lady Windermere? I have.’
- June 2016
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
The beautiful, aristocratic, Lady Windermere is an adored mother and young wife, whose strong moral code almost causes her own social suicide as she prepares to leave her husband on the suspicion of adultery. Ironically the only one who can stop her is the mysterious Mrs Erlynne whose illicit relationship with Lord Windermere has prompted the imminent downfall of Lady Windermere in the first place. And Mrs Erlynne has a deadly secret - a secret Lady Windermere must never find out if she is to keep her peace of mind and the world she has come to identify with.
A production not to be missed, join us for an evening of the finest upper class debauchery. Lady Windermere's Fan presents the exposition of shocking home truths, the satirisation of societal expectations and Wilde's renowned cutting wit.
- April 2016
Join Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley and Claire Clairmont on a pit stop of their Grand Tour, as they discuss the woes of the Grand Tourist and just what the English have brought to the intellectual world.
- March 2016
Following the success of last year's festival the Downing Dramatic Society is once again offering a platform for new writing by current students of the University. Eight plays by will be showcased in Downing's fabulous Howard Theatre followed by an open forum with top industry professionals.
- February 2016
'You're a divinely mad family!'
The Blisses live in the countryside, and they love inviting people over for the weekend - only this time they haven't told each other! The house is soon crowded with friends and lovers who, as they start arriving and meeting each other, realise just how crazy and melodramatic The Bliss family can get.
Join the glamourous Judith Bliss and her eccentric family for an awkward, confusing and hilarious soirée at their home. This 1920s farce will surely have you in stitches!
- February 2016
“Do you believe in the afterlife?”
A young woman dies suddenly and unexpectedly. Her friends plan a cleansing trip to the seaside. All is not what it seems, and the mechanics of death aren’t quite what they should be. Who is Hurtle T., how did Adrianne really die, and why are there ghosts everywhere?
Meet jeering Adrian, absent-minded Romania, foppish Birch, the self-proclaimed Ex-Ghost, and, at the centre of it all, Susanne herself and her tragic decline.
A comic and unsettlingly dark film heavy with theatrical ambiance, Susanne is a twisted foray into some of humanity's deepest fears.
It can be watched on Youtube via the following link:
- February 2016
Laden with moments of both comedy and searing tragedy, Frank Wedekind's famous double bill is brought to the beautiful Howard Theatre. Combined as "Lulu: A Monster Tragedy", Earth Spirit and Pandora's Box are two of the most striking and famous of fin de siècle sex tragedies: forming a commentary on the destructive potential of sexual and material excess in the turn-of-the-century bourgeoisie. A tale which Wedekind tells through the fatal and enigmatic figure of his protagonist Lulu. Travel from Berlin, to the opulent high society of Paris, to the grimy slums of London, following Lulu and her successive lovers, as, at each shift in setting, the play's world and its characters slowly degenerate, before the play’s now iconic and brutal climax.
- November 2015
‘I like this place, / And willingly could waste my time in it.’
This is a story one can hear softly spoken around a campfire in the glowing embers of an evening. It is a tale of ‘the golden world’, disguised lovers and gender swaps. We will be beckoning in our audience to join the company of witty Rosalind; ardent Orlando and wry Jacques in this production's autumnal Forest of Arden.
- March 2015
Downing Dramatic Society are hosting a New Writing Festival Downing's Howard Theatre. We are looking for new one act plays, running at no longer than 20 minutes, to be submitted by the end of January. The best submissions will be staged and watched by a panel of top industry professionals and special guests who will then offer advice and feedback. The winner's prize will include an opportunity to develop the writing further, with support from the society. Many exciting surprises to be announced in due course. Get those pens scratching and await further announcements!
- February 2015
Not so very far in the future, Paulina Salas, a medical student, falls prey to the repressive regime controlling her country. Whilst captive, Paulina is raped and tortured by a Doctor she never sees, who is obsessed with playing Schubert's 'Death and The Maiden'. Paulina is eventually released when the regime falls, and leads a normal life with her husband, the lawyer Gerardo. But the past remains with her.
One night, her husband is stranded by the roadside and is rescued by a kind man, Doctor Miranda, who drives him home. When Paulina hears his voice she is instantly reminded of her rapist and tormentor, and seeks to have his confession by any means possible, while her lawyer husband seeks to ensure Doctor Miranda has a fair trial in the hands of his seemingly deranged wife....
Come and see this play about trauma and the ambivalent nature of guilt and innocence.
- November 2014
- February 2014
A pearl necklace broken on the floor. A bloodstained yellow motorcar. A green light always just out of reach.
Welcome to the 1920s. In this innovative new adaption of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel, see a fresh take on the American novel that defined a generation.
- February 2013
He's the most contemptible, sly and supercilious slave known to man. A low-down good-for-nothing liar. But when trouble raises its ugly head, a little lying can go a long way.
It's 200 BC and in the foetid streets of Athens stands Calidorus, a strapping young man-about-town with his head in his hands. He's in love you see, with a beautiful slave girl called Phonecium. But young love comes at a price, a particularly high one when a sadistic pimp is involved, and the evil Ballio has received an offer that he can't refuse. Our hero has one day to stump up enough cash to save his Phonecium and if he fails, she'll be sold to a merciless Macedonian officer. What can he do but to turn to the one and only person that could help him achieve the impossible, his father's silver-tongued slave: Pseudolus?
The Downing Drama Society is bringing back the bad-boy of Roman Comedy, for a three night extravaganza of ribald farce. Enter the salacious world of Plautus, and discover the esoteric delights that have been suppressed and censored for centuries.
- September 2011
Now in its fifth consecutive year, Pembroke Players Japan Tour will be taking Shakespeare's Twelfth Night to a range of venues in England and Japan. Visiting schools, universities and professional theatres both in rural and urban Japan during September, the tour will also feature a home run in Cambridge at the beginning of Michaelmas term.
Transported to 1940s civilian England, the characters of Twelfth Night resort to music, drink and trickery to distract themselves from death and unrequited love. Dealing with chaos, cons and crossed wires, their lives veer between the comic and the tragic as they look for entertainment and affection in Shakespeare's iconic play.
- March 2011
“We’re on a stage, my darling! And what’s a stage? Well, don’t you see? It’s a place where you play at being serious. A place where you act out a play. And that’s what we’re going to do now – play, only seriously....”
Pirandello’s ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’ plunges the audience into a struggle between acting and living. It is an exploration into what makes an actor true and the transformation of a character from paper to play. A small group of unsuspecting actors are abruptly interrupted by mysterious characters who are requesting the work of an author to complete their story. The audience sees the scandalous lives of these characters unfurl in front of them as the line between creation and real life begins to blur and the actors are left with uncertainties...and a body count.
But did it really happen or was it all just a play?
- February 2011
"Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle: she died young." Intrigue, incest and murder – Webster’s iconic play centres around the lonely figure of the Duchess of Malfi, her court disintegrating under the web of spying and suspicion set up by her manipulative, deadly brothers. Our production will be set in 1930s Italy, gesturing towards an era of political instability and growing menace. We're also looking to work in some film elements, as well as playing on the hints of drug abuse, mental illness and illicit sexual desire in the play.
- February 2010
The Downing Dramatic Society is proud to present The Relapse by John Vanbrugh. First produced 1696, it is one of England’s most beloved Restoration comedies, featuring biting social satire that is still popular today. Vanbrugh contrasts fashionable London life with provincial sensibilities through a menagerie of outrageously comic characters including: reformed rogue husband Loveless, his virtuous wife Amanda, her ardent admirer Worthy, buxom widow Berinthia, peacock beau Lord Foppington, his profligate younger brother Tom Fashion, his perpetually plastered manservant Lory, their lecherous matchmaker Coupler, cantankerous country squire Sir Tunbelly Clumsy, his innocent yet up for it daughter Hoyden, her faithful governess Nurse and the buffoonish parson Bull.
To be presented in high period style, at the brand new luxurious Howard Theatre, this show is not to be missed.