Harvard Dramatic Club and Black CAST reconciled some of their differences this week to discuss a proposal for the debut production of the Adderly Brothers' musical "Big Man" and accrue the expected astronomical benefits.
HDC president Alison Clarkson '77 says she is relieved that the long dispute with CAST is over, but CAST members show a more guarded optimism.
They see the agreements to ensure black training and involvement in "Big Man" as simply one step toward easing racial differences at the Loeb. They are enthusiastic about "Big Man" and the opportunities it presents. But they are concerned that the attitudes of HDC people which made CAST demand a greater role in the production will persist.
A number of conflicts between black and white Loebies has given rise to CAST's fears of continued tension.
One such incident occurred last month when black actors did not wait around until technical workers--most of whom are white--had completely finished striking the set after the last performance of "The Blacks." The actors heard later that the techies had made unpleasant comments about them, and about blacks' work at the Loeb.
Blacks reacted by pointing out that it is normal for actors to leave without striking the set, and the blacks therefore claimed they were being judged by different standards than white actors.
Accounts of the dispute are as divided as the arguments themselves. But it is clear that the charges and countercharges served to focus the tensions that both sides agree have characterized CAST-HDC relations in recent months.
The tensions came to a head with the controversy about who should run the "Big Man" show. When the HDC board rejected John Kirkwood, CAST member, as stage director, all the double standard accusations reappeared.
The dispute was more circumvented than solved when the second proposed director, a white, decided the original musical was too much for him to handle, and George Hamlin, the Loeb's full-time director, offered to produce it with professional directors.
With the management of the play taken out of the hands of both sides, HDC and CAST were able to agree on Hamlin's proposal, after adding requirements that black students have a significants hand in the production and get training in the technical side of the show.
With the prospect of performing the first contemporary jazz musical and working with a $30,000 budget and serious professional directing, HDC and CAST have a common goal that may blur their differences, at least until after the show goes up next spring.