Cross-dressing Curtain Call
January 29th, 2018 – Harvard University, America’s most elite academic institution, announced last week that women would be allowed to audition for the cast of its all-male theatrical troupe “Hasty Pudding” for the first time since 1844. The 174-year-old comedic troupe, recognized for its political parodies and cross-dressing male performers, has allowed women to work in other aspects of its productions but never on stage.
“The Hasty Pudding welcomes women to audition and perform in the roles in the show, and be given equal opportunity to play those roles based on the quality of their individual talents,” read Amira T. Weeks, the group’s current president in a letter from its former President Andrew L. Farkas.
Hasty Pudding garners national attention when it chooses its annual Woman and Man of the Year and honors them with a parade and roast in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This year they chose actress Mila Kunis, a visible supporter of equality in the workplace.
“It was the students who pushed for the change”, she said, but also added: “I wouldn’t be here otherwise. Look at this tradition, that’s been around for 100-plus years, today changed,” Kunis said in a news conference on Thursday afternoon as reported by the Harvard Crimson and picked up by The New York Times, Boston Globe, Huffington Post and others.
But not everyone was in support. As written by Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham “How does the sexist throwback that is the Hasty Pudding Theatricals still exist? And why on earth would actor Mila Kunis associate herself with it?”
Hasty Pudding has drawn criticism in the past. In 2015, Amy Poehler, chosen as Woman of the Year, made these comments during her acceptance speech:
“I want to say that it’s unsettling that there will be no women onstage tonight,” said Poehler. “You know it’s time for a change when the Augusta National Golf Club has lapped you in terms of being progressive.”
In an interesting side note, The Boston Globe also reported that tickets to the Mila Kunis award event are priced at $80 but tickets to next month’s “Man of the Year” Awards honoring actor Paul Rudd are priced at $200. The Man of the Year event is more extensive but it still begs the question of equality.
What are your thoughts on Hasty Pudding’s decision?