I checked Google Maps on my phone. Yes, the little blue dot showed that I was standing outside Agassiz Theatre- I was at the right place. I walked in the dark green double doors and the wooden doors that are perhaps a bit too free-swinging (which I have affectionately nicknamed “the Doors of Death” after a few encounters that were a little too close). I strode down the red carpeted hallway, learned where the Horner Room was from the security guard, and started to trek up the stairs, the first time ever of the Agassiz Theatre stair exercise routine which happened so frequently over the next three and a half years of doing backstage work in the Ag. I leaned back and heaved open the heavy door to the Horner Room, my heart beating loudly. This was my first time going to a production meeting, and having not done any theater in high school, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I was greeted with smiles and a warm welcome, and sat down in an empty chair for a meeting filled with planning for the upcoming HRG&SP show, jokes, a wealth of information, puns, and laughter. Most of the theatre jargon went in one ear and out the other, and I walked away from the meeting feeling like I had tried drinking out of a fire hose, but one thing was for certain- I was hooked.
This was my first introduction to HRG&SP on Harvard’s campus, and the start to a fun-filled and extremely rewarding four years of involvement in the organization. One thing that struck me at my first production meeting was how welcoming the community was, even to someone who knew no one in the Harvard theater community and had never done theater before. I had absolutely no intention of joining any sort of executive board of an organization when I stepped on campus, but after being involved for three semesters and having such great experiences with HRG&SP, I decided to join board as a way to give back to the community and help perpetuate the welcoming, inclusive environment for the next generation of Harvard students. By the time I joined board my sophomore year, I had done quite a bit of technical theater work in different spaces on campus, and working with HRG&SP in the Ag were by far the most rewarding shows I had been involved in- it was the first place I really felt at home on campus, the HRG&SP shows were the ones in which I felt the most supported and appreciated in my roles as set designer and paint charge, and the socials kept the community thriving in-between the shows. I also found HRG&SP to be a really special place where seasoned theater experts and novices alike worked together to support, help, and learn from each other to help bring a fun and entertaining show to life.
I grew so much and learned so much through my time in HRG&SP. There were so many upperclassmen and more experienced people who were willing to put aside their time to help me learn things I didn’t know and answer any and all questions I had, and the environment was positive and supportive, so I didn’t feel too scared of stretching myself and trying new things that were out of my comfort zone, from producing to being president of the organization. So, as my time as an undergraduate at Harvard draws to a close and as HRG&SP welcomes its newest board class, there are just a few things I want to say: First of all, thank you to all the mentors and supportive people who have taken time out of their schedules to help touch the lives of others- you are extremely important and so very much appreciated. Second, welcome to all of the beginners and newcomers- don’t be afraid to try something new, always ask questions, and I’m so excited to see where you take the organization from here!!