Actors May Reduce Non-College Participation

Members of the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club (HRDC) addressed this year’s increased competition between Harvard students and non-Harvard students for roles at the club’s meeting yesterday.

HRDC members considered amending the club’s constitution to reduce the percentage of non-Harvard students who may participate in shows put on in the Loeb Theater. This restriction would also apply to technical and production staff.

The HRDC Executive Board proposed mandating that at least 80 percent of the cast and staff of each show in the Loeb be Harvard undergraduates.

Currently, only 50 percent of participants in a production must be Harvard College students.

“There’s a potential that we’ll lose a lot of people who could become valuable members of this community if we don’t protect them in this way,” said HRDC Vice President Kenneth P. Herrera ’03, referring to those Harvard students who would be denied the chance to take part in shows because of non-Harvard participation.

HRDC President Daniel A. Cozzens ’03 recalled this season’s Common Casting, saying that tension resulted from the large numbers of students from other colleges and community members that were cast in the season’s shows.

Cozzens said Cabaret, this season’s Mainstage musical, had close to 50 percent of its parts, including several lead roles, played by non-Harvard undergraduates. Limiting their participation, he said, would be a form of community building.

But many of the almost 30 HRDC members present opposed the proposed restriction, defending casting from the Cambridge and Boston community.

“There is nothing better for theater than cross-pollination,” said Joy B. Fairfield ’03, an HRDC member who directed Cabaret. “This [change] is very actor-centric.”

HRDC board member Katherine M. Bencowitz ’03 added that the new limit would take a toll on the technical quality of shows.

“There are lots of people in the area, who are maybe tied to Harvard somehow, with knowledge to pass on,” Bencowitz said. “You’re really risking the technical community.”

Other members voiced additional reasons against adopting the 20 percent limit, saying it would sacrifice show quality for the sake of putting more Harvard students on stage.

Some members said without actors from outside the College it would be more difficult to draw larger audiences and sell out the Mainstage.

Members also proposed adjusting the amendments, suggesting making the limit 25 percent nonHarvard students in order to give more options to small-cast directors.

A few members also requested to establish an appeals process so that directors could negotiate the percentages of Harvard and non-Harvard members on their cast lists.

Other possible amendments include changing the name of the position of club coordinator to communications and technology coordinator and creating a new board position of historian. The job would involve developing institutional memory.

Members will vote on proposed amendments at a meeting next Tuesday. If they pass, the changes will go into effect beginning in the spring semester.