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The old Hasty Pudding Theatre—a Harvard Square landmark for over a century—will reopen under a new name and welcome more occupants next month, drawing the curtain on more than two years of renovations.
Recently dubbed the New College Theatre, the venue will host some of the 40 to 60 productions Harvard undergraduates organize each year. The theater will remain home to its traditional residents, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals (HPT), the Harvard Krokodiloes, and the Radcliffe Pitches, but also will contain rehearsal space for other performance groups.
“Harvard has not had a new theater dedicated exclusively to the College in almost 50 years,” said Jack Megan, director of the Office for the Arts (OFA). “The building is a means to an end, not an end in itself. It presents a challenge for a higher standard of programming at Harvard.”
The official theater opening on October 17 will be celebrated with a speech by University President Drew G. Faust, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and a discussion by a panel of prominent playwrights.
In 2000, the University purchased the theater from the Institute of 1770, a private organization that is affiliated with the HPT, the Kroks, and the Pitches, according to HPT Press Manager Talisa B. Friedman ’10.
“It’s definitely going to be different because we’ll be sharing the building with all these other student groups,” Friedman said. “But it’s such a nice place that it should be shared.”
Renovations began in April 2005, leaving a few rooms in the building’s front intact but demolishing the rest. Workers also dug underground, adding three new floors to make a total of six.
While nostalgic photographs and faded playbills still adorn the building’s halls, the theater is now equipped with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems as well as stadium seating.
In addition, the old home of the UpStairs on the Square eatery, formerly located within the theater as UpStairs at the Pudding, has now been transformed into a rehearsal area.
During the renovation, HPT moved its performances to the Zero Arrow Theatre. The Hasty Pudding Social Club, which relocated to 2 Garden Street during construction, will remain at its current location.
The theater’s first performance, an absurdist drama written by Arthur L. Kopit ’59, will open on the new stage in November. The Silk Road Project, featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma ’76, will also perform in the space later that month.
HPT’s annual show will return this spring to the 12 Holyoke St. theater in time for its 160th anniversary. Entitled “Fable Attraction,” the performance will feature a collection of fairy tales in which no traditional story is held sacred.
“Basically we want to make a splash and show that not only do we belong there, but it’s our favorite place to put on a show,” said co-writer Brian C. Polk ’09. “It’s of historical significance to us and to Harvard.”
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