Women Audition for Hasty Pudding for Third Year, None Receive Callbacks

UPDATED: September 13, 2017 at 4:35 p.m.

Around a dozen undergraduate women auditioned for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals this weekend, continuing a three-year and so far unsuccessful push to pressure the all-male production to add women to its cast.

Some of the women had auditioned for the cast of the Pudding—a campus drag troupe famous for its burlesque productions and celebrity “roasts”—multiple times in the past, but, as in previous years, they did not receive a callback.

“Unfortunately, the gender composition of the Hasty Pudding cast will remain the same for HPT 170,” the Hasty Pudding Theatricals executive board wrote in an email to the women auditionees obtained by The Crimson. “We would like you to know that we really value your effort to make change within the Harvard arts community.”

Hasty Pudding Theatricals Performs
Members of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals perform in That 1770s Show in 2016.

Calls to change the Hasty Pudding’s long-standing all-male cast first made waves in 2015 when a group of undergraduate women signed up for auditions in protest. The troupe’s website notes that “while the Pudding remains all-male on stage, we have female members who have been working on every other facet of the show since the 1950's.” Women are allowed to be involved behind the scenes as part of the business staff, band, creative team, or tech crew, but cannot take the stage as a cast member.

Last September, at least 86 Hasty Pudding alumni signed a petition advocating that the third-oldest theatre organization in the world include women in its cast after over a dozen auditioned for the second year in a row.

Several of the women who auditioned this year said that participating in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals show can open doors for aspiring actors.

“It is so unfair that the men in the Pudding get all these opportunities to be in a professionally directed, orchestrated, choreographed show with professionally designed costumes and an extravagant set,” said Elizabeth P. Kantor ’18, who auditioned for the Pudding cast for a third time this year. “They are constantly performing and doing what they love, and women I know who are just as talented don’t have the same opportunity.”

Madison E. Deming ’18, who has also auditioned three times, agreed. “For people who are interested in musical theater and comedy, the best opportunity, professionally, and the most connections you can make on campus, is the Hasty Pudding,” she said.

Elle L. Shaheen ’21, who tried out for the cast this year, said that although she felt welcome at the auditions, it was “frustrating” to receive the email indicating that women would not be called back.

“For the first time I felt that I couldn’t do something because of my gender, which I did not expect to happen, especially on a college campus like Harvard’s,” Shaheen said.

Members of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals executive board did not respond to requests for comment.

Deming said that she continues to encourage women to audition to send a message to the Hasty Pudding’s graduate board.

“We sign up, and take up a lot of their space, purposefully, because we want to make a point—especially to the grad board,” she said.

—Staff writer Junina Furigay can be reached at junina.furigay@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @junina_furigay.

—Staff writer Kenton K. Shimozaki can be reached at kenton.shimozaki@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @KentonShimozaki.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: September 13, 2017

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the class year of Elle L. Shaheen ’21.

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