"Frailty, thy name is woman," quoth William Shakespeare. And perhaps, this maxim will make the Hasty Pudding Theatricals give its final bow. We urge the College not to change the casting policy at Harvard's favorite irreverent play.
On Oct. 2, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences acquired the deed to the Holyoke Street Hasty Pudding Building, and with it, control over what the building will be used for. The University has pledged its commitment to keeping the building's space open to its current residents: the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the Pitches and the Krokodiloes. In fact, David P. Illingworth '71, associate dean of the College, even detailed plans for the improvement of the building's theater where the Pudding Theatricals performs.
So what's the Theatricals' gripe? Dean Illingworth has also mentioned that since the University has assumed ownership of the Theatricals' theater space, the sex-composition of the all-male Pudding cast will be up for discussion. If the University decided that the Theatricals must become co-ed it would not only be a mortal blow to the Theatricals, but a defeat for artistic freedom.
At the moment, it is unclear how the all-male cast violates the College's policy forbidding student groups from discriminating on the basis of gender. While only men are allowed to take center stage in the Theatricals' shows, women are involved in all other aspects of the productions and have even acted as president of the organization in years past. Indeed, the Theatricals' position on female participation seems to be no different than that of a host of other performance-related groups, such as all-male or all-female a cappella groups or dance troupes--except that no comparable all-female dramatic club now exists. It would be better for one to be created than to change the Pudding's recipe for success.
You can't fit a square peg into a round hole. The Theatricals simply wouldn't be the same if it were compelled to include women in its shows. The Theatricals derives its strength from its all-male cast, enrapturing audience with its own unique brand of humor. Much of the fun of its productions depends on gender-based jokes. It would be forced to transform into an entirely different kind of group, or else lose much of its famed hilarity if forced to change its tradition. For a precautionary example, we need only look to the fate of Princeton's Triangle Club, Princeton's former equivalent of the Pudding Theatricals. After going coed in 1969, the group lost what little humor it had claim to in the first place (though it still continues to perform). Lest we wish the Theatricals to follow suit, we should protect their right to freedom of expression in all its irreverent glory.
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