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Loss of the Cambridge Drama Festival comes as a major setback for theater at Harvard. Not only did it provide the Summer School and the Cambridge community with dramatic entertainment of the highest order, but the Festival attracted devotees from all over New England and the Mid-West. The Cambridge Drama Festival permitted a full-year cycle of theater here, activity which was formerly restricted to the school year.
One of the major reasons for the Festival's move--the inadequacy of Sanders theater--can be remedied. By providing air conditioning, by revamping the massive balcony railing in order to allow those in the balcony to see the stage, and by eliminating the acoustical shortcomings. Harvard can perhaps bring the Festival back.
The summer theater's demise is also attributable, however, to the carping criticism directed at its producers by certain members of the English Department, notably professors Levin, Chapman and Brower. These gentlemen seem to have appointed themselves unofficial ministers to the board of trustees, and have taken upon their shoulders the work of keeping Cambridge drama clean. Any motive outside of sheer aesthetic sensibility on the part of the producers, such as making a profit, is suspect. A phrase much in the air when one of the three guardians is around is "New York thinking." By this is meant both an unwholesome concern for a production's financial success, and the practices of bringing famous actors and actresses to Cambridge.
The academicians want the Festival to concern itself mainly with experimental theater and plays that might not have the chance to be produced elsewhere. They want something smaller, with local talent, free from the exigencies of financial success.
While the professors' high aesthetic standards are admirable, their advice, if followed, would require the University to subsidize the summer theater heavily, an action which it would surely be unwilling to take. Moreover, by making the necessary structural changes in Sanders Theater for the benefit of the summer community, Harvard would enable the regular drama groups to enjoy the blessing of the improvements. The summer theater would continue to be profitable, and in Cambridge this condition has not shown itself antithetical to the production of tasteful and artistically satisfying drama.
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