More than a dozen women auditioned for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ annual show last week, putting pressure on the traditionally all-male campus drag troupe to allow women to join its cast—but none received a callback.
The group—famous for its burlesque shows and traditional celebrity “roasts”—said last fall that adding women had been a “topic of serious conversation,” according to then-President of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals Robert T. Fitzpatrick ’16. Though women are involved in other aspects of the organization, including the tech crew, creative writing, and business teams, they are excluded from the cast of actors who perform in the Theatricals’ yearly production.
Hasty Pudding Theatricals president Guan-Yue Chen ’17 confirmed that no women received callbacks this year and said that not all men who auditioned were called back. She declined to comment on why the organization is not considering women this year.
The website for the organization reads that “having an all-male cast is an artistic decision” because its “artistic trademark comes from the fact that it challenges traditional perceptions of masculinity.”
Last year, women also auditioned for the Pudding’s cast in protest of its all-male composition, but, similarly, none were called back. Their protest auditions garnered attention from several large media outlets, including the Boston Globe and CBS.
Several women who auditioned for the Hasty Pudding show this year criticized the organization for maintaining an all-male cast.
“I think it’s an abomination that the performing arts organization that has the most funding and the most opportunity is only available for one gender,” Sarah B. Rossman ’19 said. “I kind of understand the artistic idea of an all-male drag show, but there is not an alternative that is equal in any way.”
“As a woman in performing arts, I know that there are so many women who perform at such an amazing caliber and the fact that they’re excluded simply because they’re women makes me very sad,” Nora A. Sagal ’18 said.
Chen declined to comment on the criticism, as did several other Pudding executive board members.
Sagal also auditioned for two traditionally all-male a capella groups last week, the Krokodiloes and the Din and Tonics. The Kroks gave her the first callback the group has ever given to a woman, according to general manager Michael A. Paladino ’17, but they did not ultimately accept her into the group.
The Hasty Pudding protest comes at a time when Harvard administrators are heavily scrutinizing gender exclusivity on campus. In May, University President Drew G. Faust and Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana announced an unprecedented policy penalizing members of single-gender unrecognized social organizations, starting with the Class of 2021.
Before the sanctions were announced, two of the College’s final clubs—the Spee and the Fox—invited women to participate in their punch processes and accepted them to their clubs. While the Spee has since initiated women, the Fox reversed its decision in a graduate vote in August.
Though women were not admitted to the cast of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, some applauded the protest auditions.
“The cast of Hasty Pudding Theatricals may still be all-male, but their auditions sure weren't! Thank you to all the ladies who are continuing to take up space and be heard,” Madison E. Deming ’18 wrote in a Facebook post, which included a photo of an audition sign-up sheet that contained several women’s names.
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