A reflection on the Horner Room

Hello, all!

As you may or may not know, Board Members are instructed to write their blog posts on 2 out of the 5 letters of HRG&SP. Today, I wanted to write about Harvard and Radcliffe. Specifically, I want to write about the Horner Room and the Agassiz Theater.

The Agassiz theater is named for Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, the widow of Louis Agassiz. Louis left a very mixed legacy (he was a creationist and a white supremacist). Elizabeth, however, was known for establishing the Women’s Education Association of Boston, in 1872. She also fought to allow women to attend Harvard, although this wouldn’t come to be until 1920, when women were permitted to enroll at the Graduate School of Education. To enter the Ag, one must pass under Elizabeth’s name, in gold over the doors.

The Horner room is where we rehearse and hold Victorian Ball (save the date: April 4, 2020!). The room was named for Matina Souretis Horner. Matina was the sixth president of Radcliffe College, as well as an assistant professor in Harvard’s Psychology Department. Horner was famous for her theory that women had a “fear of success” – a fear that our ambition would be seen as unladylike and vulgar. (No way that could be relevant today.) Horner fought to maintain Radcliffe’s independence as its admissions slowly merged with Harvard’s. 

As much as I am glad to soon be in possession of a Harvard degree, I understand why Horner and many others wanted to keep the Radcliffe legacy alive. Merging the two schools really meant eliminating Radcliffe. And the college in recent years has repeated this history in the hopes of creating gender equality. It has been disheartening to watch as men are allowed into previously female-dominated spaces while women and nonbinary people are still excluded from many groups – regardless of these groups’ obligations to the college.

My first memory of the Horner Room was attending a mixer during my Opening Days as a freshman. I remember being awed by the gracious space. That was the first place where I felt comfortable at Harvard. And over the course of the past four years, it has become my home base. I’ve written before about the way building smells and buzzes with energy.

I have been so privileged to be involved with HRG&SP for the entirety of my college career, and we are extremely fortunate to live in the Agassiz. While we are scattered from the SOCH to Lowell Lecture Hall to the Smith Center for rehearsals, we perform and build in the Agassiz. 

The Ag is one of the few spaces on campus where all but one of the portraits hanging on the wall are of women. It means a lot to me to have Matina Horner, Elizabeth Agassiz, and many others watching over me. I have been blessed to have role models in these women the women of Radcliffe who passed through the Ag. 

I spend a lot of time thinking about women at Harvard and in the arts. It matters that we have women to look up to. So I hope all of you, dear readers, remember the legacy of HRG&SP’s home.

Winter Welcome!

Welcome back!

It’s a new semester, and we’re off to a running start! Or should I say paddling? Rowing? If you couldn’t guess, this semester, we’re putting on a production of The Gondoliers; or, the King of Barataria. In typical G&S fashion, Gondoliers is a tale of princes switched at birth by a (contralto) nursemaid. Abnormally for G&S, this show features a song in Italian, so wish us buona sorte with the diction!

Music rehearsals are well underway. This past Saturday, we had our sing-through, which is the first time the entire cast and senior staff come together. It’s always exciting to see the beginnings of a new production – especially so for me personally, as I am returning to the stage as Gianetta in Gondoliers! Thank you, thank you, hold your applause until our opening on March 29 (mark your calendars!).

Winter Update #1: The Board of HRG&SP is thrilled to introduce our newest members, Sam Guillemette ‘20 and Ross Simmons ‘21!

Winter Update #2: The weather in Cambridge is dreadful these days. A gondola might be useful to navigate the puddles at this point (although it would be a little tricky to store in a backpack).

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I Wanna Be a Producer!

Written by Isabella Kopits

Over the last several weeks, I’ve found myself listening to the soundtrack of Mel Brooks’ The Producers. While I am a fan of meta-musical theater in general (trust me, it’s a thing), The Producers has spoken to me in particular, largely because I am incredibly fortunate to be co-producing Yeomen of the Guard!

As a first time producer, I’m learning that there’s a lot more to the job than just glamorous parties and fabulous friends (although HRG&SP does provide those, too!). Producing is usually the first thing I do when I wake up, and the last thing I do before I fall asleep. There are shady deals made in the night, endless emails, and hours of meetings. I’ve already stashed a sleeping bag in the costume room for late nights in the Agassiz Theater. It’s a lot of effort, but producing is a labour of love. How could anyone not fall for Elsie’s soaring lines or Jack Point’s patters?

I’ve been thinking about Yeomen since last winter, and thinking about producing since before I knew what it was. For my fellow biologists out there — if directors are the brains behind the show, producers are the mitochondria! We are the power behind a lot of the operations that happen behind-the-scenes. We attend rehearsals, support our staff, build things, paint things, tape things, and coerce our friends into helping out, too. It’s a crazy job, but I am loving every minute of it!

Don’t miss the event of the season,  Yeomen of the Guard; or, The Merryman and His Maid March 23 – April 1 in the Historic Agassiz Theater!

I have a secret desire
Hiding deep in my soul
It sets my heart afire
To see me in this role
I wanna be a producer!”