Harvard University’s historic all-male drag and burlesque troupe Hasty Pudding Theatricals may begin to accept women after two college seniors decided it was unacceptable for a college theater society to bar females from performing.

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Tess Davison and Olivia Miller (both class of 2016) decided to take action after they participated in an annual summer competition to see who would write the script for the fall show. They wanted to be on stage, not just behind it.

The Harvard Crimson reports:

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So far, the protest has already attracted attention on social media. Davison and Miller first sent out an email to several women on campus involved in theater asking them to join them and audition as a way to challenge the norm of the male-only cast. After they signed 14 women up to audition, protest participant Megan G. Jones ’16 posted a photograph of the sign up sheet on Facebook and Instagram, amassing more than 200 likes.

Currently, women are allowed to participate in the group through its band, writing team, business staff, tech crew or as a musical composer. Just not as actors.

“It is extremely upsetting to me that women are still barred from performing in one of the most prestigious (and popular) productions on campus,” Jones wrote in a Facebook post. “The biases, power imbalances, and exclusionary tactics at play here are eerily reminiscent of a truly troubled past (when gender inequity was the norm).”

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Of course, that any modern college club would exclude a participant solely based on gender is absurd, but the case of Hasty Pudding, the third-oldest theater group in the world, is especially detrimental to female performers — the troupe goes on yearly tours, has a high-profile alumni network and offers undergraduates a rare chance to participate in professional-level productions.

The group also crowns a yearly Man and Woman of the Year (last year’s honorees were Chris Pratt and Amy Poehler), putting the society’s decision to exclude women into particularly dumb relief.

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Jones continued: “We want to remind the Pudding that draft is not, and should not be, for-men-only and that an institution that continues to uphold a bigoted tradition is severely backwards.”

A representative of Hasty Pudding had not responded to request for comment at the time of publication.


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.

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Image via Getty.