Introducing the Downing Amphitheatre

While chariot-racing remains off the menu, at least for now, and socially-distanced gladiatorial combat has, for obvious reasons, never really taken off as a spectator sport, Downing is, nonetheless, delighted to announce the impending arrival of its very own open-air performance space:  the Amphitheatre.

We already have an Agora, and the Taverna is currently under construction, so it only makes sense that Downing’s modern take on the ancient tradition of bringing the community together for a much-needed theatrical, musical or cinematic spectacle after a long, hard day at the laptop should be next in line.

Designed to maximise the full potential of the ever-popular Paddock site, the College’s vast and most accessible internal space, our new Amphitheatre will feature a few all-too-necessary variations on the classic theme. Though it won’t boast a grand, colonnaded round or oval structure – the ‘auditorium’ will radiate outwards in a fan-shape from the new, raised, outdoor stage area – there’ll be plenty of circles. White ones on the ground. A hundred and fifty of them. And the circles are what makes the whole thing possible.

Each circle will be two metres in diameter and two metres away from any other. There’s plenty of room to stretch out – or snuggle up if you’re with someone from your ‘household’ – and there’s no need to worry about all that damp grass on the rare occasion it might rain in Cambridge. Not only will there be an ample supply of deckchairs to hand, each student will be issued with this season’s de rigueur fashion accessory: the Downing waterproof poncho! As if all that isn’t exciting enough, on the modular (i.e. endlessly adaptable) 6 by 3 metre raised-platform stage, all the theatre, stand-up, live music, dance and film the College would normally offer indoors will have a new venue that not only complies with the essential health guidelines to which we’re currently subjected but can be modified to meet any changes we might face as the protocols evolve.

There will be lights, sound and, of course, action. And no students will be harmed in the making of this production.

The Amphitheatre is coming to a Paddock near you.