On joining HRG&SP

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!!

December Announcements!

As everything for Pinafore sails to a halt and finals and final projects start ramping up, the HRG&SP board has been busy with our duties. First of all, in the words of Gilbert, “after much debate internal” (and some concerns with rights) we decided on our show for next semester- we will be presenting Kiss Me, Kate! This will be the first non-Gilbert and Sullivan show that HRG&SP will have done in over a decade and we are excited to have a show from the golden age of Broadway musicals, one in the style of G&S shows. While we will by no means be replacing the G&S canon we perform with non-G&S shows, this will be a fun opportunity for our organization to branch out, and a chance for people who might not be familiar with Gilbert and Sullivan but are enthusiastic about musical theater to join us by becoming involved in our organization or seeing our shows. We are looking forward to this venture next semester, and then to getting back to G&S as usual next fall and the spring after that.

Now give three cheers and one cheer more- we also recently welcomed Ava, Ben, Clarissa, and Mary onto our board of directors! We are so excited to have them join us and are really looking forward to seeing the perspectives and ideas that they bring to HRG&SP, and where they help lead the organization from here. The board of directors is getting ready to elect a new team of executive officers, so this is my last blog post as president, and I must say I am honored to have served as the leader of such a great organization, full of so many talented, funny, and kind people. And though before my fall I was captain of it all, I will again be a member of the crew- in the meantime, however, I will be working on my final projects and continuing to get ready for the exciting semester ahead!

Announcing H.M.S. Pinafore!

As the semester kicks into gear and G&S events begin to start, the rest of the board and I have been busy preparing for this semester, and we are thrilled to announce this semester’s show: a traditional staging of HMS Pinafore! We are excited to have Pinafore set in the 1800s on a British ship and are looking forward to the captain and his daughter, sailors, the bumboat woman, the monarch of the sea, sisters, cousins, and aunts all gracing the stage of the Agassiz theatre once again.

We have a fabulous crew, cast, and orchestra made of many inveterate and quite a few new G&S players, and I can’t wait to see all of their creativity, visions, and talents come to life. The first cast and orchestra rehearsals and the first few production meetings have happened and are off to a great start, and we are looking forward to “sailing the ocean blue” with you in the Agassiz Theatre in November- “in the meantime, farewell!”

Our very first show poster!

This week, HRG&SP had a very exciting occurrence- we were sent a poster from HGSP’s (our name before the Radcliffe part was added in) inaugural production, Ruddigore from the spring semester of 1956! Julia McVaugh, a member of cast, had found the poster and offered to send it to us, and we were delighted to welcome the beautiful poster, which was designed by the leading tenor of the cast, back home. Thank you so much to the McVaughs for helping us preserve our history and records!

We have scanned the poster and added it to our digital archive, and Ross, our historian, is putting it in our physical archive.

Other than that, our cast, crew, and orchestra are off and running on rehearsals for Gondoliers, which is shaping up to be a great show! It has been exciting to get a sneak peek at the initial concepts from the other designers and hear the first run-throughs of songs by cast and orchestra, and I have been enjoying getting to know the talented people who are working with HRG&SP this semester.

Ruddigore1956
Spring 1956, Ruddigore

In Good Order!

Written by Sabrina Richert

The tower is in place, the cyc is hung, the platforms are loaded on stage, the rocks are all textured, all the locks, chains, bolts and bars are in good order… Whether these allusions to tech duties are in doubtful taste or not, tech crunch time has come again for the G&S show of the semester! The set of Yeomen of the Guard has really started to shape up and come to life, thanks to the hundreds of hours of work put in by the HRG&SP community. We are working on the final building and painting projects, and watching as the Tower of London in the 1500s starts to take form onstage in the Agassiz Theater, with textured rocks, broken heart motifs, and moss abound. This is always one of my favorite times as a designer, when I can look around and see all the work put in by the separate departments (build, paint, lights, orchestra, costumes, cast, etc.) and see it converging into a complete whole. It is always so rewarding to watch a production come together, from being an amorphous amalgamation of ideas and thoughts becoming an actual operetta staged on a physical set.

While I have been spending a significant amount of my time painting at the Agassiz Theater lately, Yeomen has started to creep into other aspects of my life as well, from the perpetual paint on my fingernails that I can never quite wash off, to the songs that I hum and just can’t seem to get out of my head as I work on my Japanese homework, to the ear plugs I have to dig through in my backpack to get to my pencils everyday in class.

As opening night draws nigh, we are getting more and more excited to share all of our hard work on this production with you, and we really hope to see you there at one of the following times!

Friday, March 23 at 8PM (Creative Black Tie Opening)
Saturday, March 24 at 2PM (Milk & Cookies Matinee)
Saturday, March 24 at 8PM
Sunday, March 25 at 2PM
Thursday, March 29 at 8PM (Free with HUID)
Friday, March 30 at 8PM
Saturday, March 31 at 6PM (Alumni Night)
Sunday, April 1 at 2PM