Female Students Plan to Audition for All-Male Hasty Pudding Cast

A group of Harvard undergraduates is challenging a tradition upheld since 1884.

hasty pudding female students

Chris Pratt, Hasty Pudding’s 2015 Man of the Year, poses with two members of the theater troupe. Male students have traditionally played both male and female parts in the group’s annual production. / Photo by Olga Khvan

Since 1884, Hasty Pudding Theatricals, an undergraduate theater troupe at Harvard, has been putting on burlesque productions powered by an all-male cast, with actors donning drag to play female roles.

Every year, the group celebrates both a Woman of the Year and a Man of the Year, and women are welcome to write and produce the annual show—but not act in it.

Now, two female students have set out to challenge that tradition.

Harvard seniors Tess Davison and Olivia Miller have signed up for Hasty Pudding’s upcoming auditions, and after an email and social media campaign, the list has grown to at least 17 women as of Monday evening, reports the Harvard Crimson.

“We were just thinking about how we would like to be a part of the Pudding, but we still had our hesitations because we still feel it’s not quite a fair and equal group,” Davison, who along with Miller participated in a summer competition to write the script for this year’s production, told the campus newspaper.

Hasty Pudding’s president, Robert T. Fitzpatrick, also a senior, sent a statement to the Crimson early Tuesday morning, saying that adding women to the cast has been seriously discussed since the spring, but will likely continue to be discussed after the upcoming auditions because of the subsequent “structural changes to the production, the company, and our larger institutional traditions.”

“The Theatricals would like to express appreciation for those outside of our company who have taken interest and vocalized opinions about this topic,” he wrote. “They will be taken into consideration as we continue our discussion.”