Hasty Pudding Theatricals Fair and Equal Organization
To the editors:
Matthew Johnson's editorial "Time to Put Women in Drag, Too" (Opinion, Dec. 10) is both historically inaccurate and fundamentally misrepresentative. We do not want to belabor his lack of research, but if he wishes to open a dialogue about the status of the Pudding show, as he claims, he should have contacted someone on our board in order to get his facts straight.
While Johnson's assertion is correct in that the current structure of the company goes back only 25 years, the all-male cast has been the defining feature of the Pudding since the late 18th century. Furthermore, when Harvard merged with Radcliffe in 1972 Hasty Pudding Theatricals (HPT) almost immediately opened up the other parts of the company--band, tech, and business--to women. Alumni say that just a decade later the Pudding show was known as one of the few communities on campus that was accepting of openly gay students. This clearly runs contrary to Johnson's claim that the Pudding show contains "sexist and homophobic discourse."
Johnson's accusation that the Pudding show is robbing women of one of their "only opportunities to act in a professionally-directed show" is completely false. This year alone, The Gondoliers, Guys & Dolls, Hamlet, the Visiting Directors Project, The Corn is Green, the Gilbert & Sullivan spring show and potentially others all had or will have professional stage or vocal directors. Rather, the Pudding is virtually the only show on campus that gives students, female and male alike, the opportunity to work closely with professionals in both the technical and musical sections of our company. With regards to the theater itself, HPT supported the Guys & Dolls show that is currently playing.
One of the most infuriating parts of Johnson's article is that he says "many [women in the Pudding] have confided that they feel as if they are waiting under the table for scraps." Women make significant contributions to every Pudding production. We are involved in running the organization, building the sets and playing the instruments not because these are the only positions available to women, but because they are areas of interest and expertise. Furthermore, two female members sit on the HPT executive board, which has more interaction with professionals and more control over the direction of the Pudding show than any other entity affiliated with the Company.
We acknowledge Johnson's concern, but urge him to be more fastidious in his research before making such strong assertions. We invite him to speak with us so that he may discover why we refer to ourselves as a company. We are a unified theatrical organization of which every member is an equal and willing part. RACHEL N. BELLO '98, BRITTAIN D. BRIGHT '00 SARAH A. CANNIZZO '98, CAROLYN A. CASSIDY '99 JENNIE E. CONNERY '99, TERESA L. CROCKETT '00 ELENA C. DECOSTE '99, MARAH J. HARDT '00 SARAH A. KNIGHT '00, COLLEEN A. MCGUINNESS '99 MARISA L. PORGES '00, JESSICA F. SHAPIRO '01 MELANIE A. SHEERR '00, JAMIE E. SMITH '02 SARA K. SMITH '98 Dec. 10, 1998
The writers are members and alumnae of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.