Female Students Demand a Bigger Taste of Harvard's Hasty Pudding Show

News   Female Students Demand a Bigger Taste of Harvard's Hasty Pudding Show
Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatricals, which bills itself as the oldest theatrical organization in the United States, is being urged to get with the times and start allowing women to appear on stage in its annual all-male drag shows.

The Boston Globe reported that a group of female students is using social media to campaign for an end to what they see as a discriminatory bar to "Harvard's most professional, prestigious production," Hasty Pudding Theatricals. At least 17 have signed up for auditions, which have been reserved for men for 171 years. No further action has been taken so far, and the women have had no official response from the club.

Each winter the club chooses a Man and Woman of the Year and "honors" them with a roast. The club stages a drag lampoon show that once was completely student-written and staged, but now employs professionals behind the scenes. The shows employ punning titles, including Fangs for the Memories, Fable Attraction and Commie Dearest.

Harvard's Hasty Pudding Club was established in 1795. The club began presenting annual theatrical shows in 1844. The club's website says "the show remains in its essence a no-holds-barred burlesque, with men playing both the male and female roles. Women are involved in all other aspects of the show, from technical staff, to the band, to authoring and producing the show."

The show gives 35 performances in Cambridge, MA, where the college is located. It then moves on to engagements in New York and Bermuda. Among those who have appeared in the show over the years were future Oscar winner Jack Lemmon and future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Among those who have written the show are Alan Jay Lerner (My Fair Lady), Mark O'Donnell (Hairspray) and David Javerbaum (Cry-Baby).

Student newspaper The Harvard Crimson (which broke the story) quoted Hasty Pudding president Robert Fitzpatrick as saying the prospect of adding women to the cast had been a “topic of serious conversation.” The Globe quoted student Tess Davison as saying that if men could play women in drag, then women could play men in drag, maintaining club tradition.

The Man and Woman of the Year Awards are presented annually to "performers who have made lasting and impressive contributions to the world of entertainment," according to press notes.

Established in 1951, the Woman of the Year Award has been given to many notable entertainers, including Amy Poehler, Helen Mirren, Bernadette Peters, Meryl Streep, Katharine Hepburn, Liza Minnelli, Carol Channing, Carol Burnett, Angela Lansbury and Ethel Merman. The Man of the Year award was established in 1963. Its past recipients include Chris Pratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise, Robert de Niro, Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Anthony Hopkins, Bruce Willis, Justin Timberlake, Robin Williams and Bob Hope.

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