Pirates Wrap Up

Written by Peryn Reeves-Darby

And that’s a wrap! We are officially done with our fall run of The Pirates of Penzance. Thank you to our directors, Patrick Cressler ’20 and Mateo Lincoln ’19, for their endless creativity and dedication to this production. Reimaging a G&S show in a different time and place is always a risk, and I think this one paid off. I felt like I was living in the cool world of 1940s New York. I also want to personally thank everyone who came to support our film noir take on this G&S classic. I’m still combing through emails which compliment the wonderful work of our cast, orchestra, and crew! We’ve all had a wonderful experience this semester working together to create something that we’re proud of.

We’ve already started gathering a staff for next semester’s production of The Yeoman of the Guard—the whole process begins over again! But for now, it’s time to take a little breather and get back to the school work that we’ve been putting off. Time to leave the theater and return to the library.

Diary of a Poor Wandering One

Written by Aaron Slipper

CHAPTER 1

We left the ship and headed for the beach. It seemed to be a clear day. A clear day for me to clear out with a clean slate. They said there was honor amongst thieves. I, Fred, party of the first part, can attest to that. The contract was simple enough and I had fulfilled my side of it. My apprenticeship to the pirates was over. What did I know? Since I was a kid I had lived with this gang of orphans. It came about like this: my father told Ruth to apprentice me to a pilot, or so she thought. She heard “pirate” and found the kingpin of the gang. An uptown sort of guy, heading up a crew of others like him. He took me on, and Ruth, too.  It wasn’t a bad life, the bad life. Ruth, the only broad I knew during those years at sea, was easy on the eyes, a lot easier than the pirates. So that day, I was hitting twenty-one, and the term of the contract was up. My days as an outlaw were done.

The guys gave me a good send-off. Knowing my feelings for Ruth, they said I should take her when I went back to being a law-abiding subject. They had been straight with me. So I was straight with them. When I got back to civilian life, I had to do what I had to do. They were a problem which I had to fix. I was going to fix it. Sure, I considered the fact that this mob were not winners. All that time we cruised around, looking for easy marks. They saw us coming, mostly. We had a rule, see. Orphans could keep their property. Who knew there were so many orphans off the coast of the city? But, as I say, an man has got to do…. I made them an offer, which they refused. I said I would forget about them, if they gave up the racket. No go. They moseyed off, leaving me and Ruth.

That was when I began to wise up. I saw this team of lambs put Ruth in the shade. All those years she had played me for a sucker. She was no doll. I told her to scram. Then I took cover.

Those dolls sure were something. I came right out and asked them to give a guy a hand at going straight. They weren’t buying it. Then, one of the sisters, a doll called Mabel, called them out and said she felt sorry for me. We hit it off. The others pretended to be interested in the weather, looking at us sideways, fooling no-body.

I decide to come clean about the gang. They were just about to leg it, when the pirates showed up. They stopped the girls from leaving with a line about getting hitched. My Mabel showed some pluck and warned the boys that their old man was a two-star general. Suddenly, there he was, introducing himself. A Major-General, and as it turned out, a major generalist. He sure was pleased as punch with himself and the sound of his own voice. Pop was not crazy about his girls going with the guys, leaving him on his lonesome. He knew the guys’ reputation around that city and worked the old orphan routine. Sticking with the script, the guys caved and let the dolls go, offering them honorary membership in the gang. Like I said, honor among thieves.

CHAPTER 2

The old “orphan” Major-General and his daughters moseyed back to his major property. He knew he had lied, and couldn’t live with the knowledge. It ate away at him. His girls tried to get him to snap out of it. Suddenly, the cops arrived, jawboning about how they’re going to collar the racketeers. The girls were excited by the manliness on display. To them the cops were heroes about to be rubbed out by the mob.

I was supposed to lead the boys in blue to the hide-out of my old outfit. I figured this was my chance to make reparations for my past life. Just then, Ruth and the Boss showed up, waving the contract in my face. They had read the small print. I hadn’t fulfilled my side of it.

The math was a tough nut to swallow. I could only be free on my twenty-first birthday. My birthday was February 29th. Twenty one birthdays would mean I could only start a law-abiding life sometime in my eighties. That was it. Black and white. Nothing to be done. I was in the gang again, back to my old life. And there was more logic looking me in the eye and forcing my hand. Now that I was a pirate again, I had to tell the Boss about the old man not being an orphan. The Boss had no option. Bad things happen to people who cheat.

I found Mabel. She was cut up about the news, but I couldn’t let her get me to break my contract. The math didn’t lie. I had decades before I was free to marry her. She saw those long, long years stretch before her. The kid came up trumps. She would wait for me. I had to leave her, to do what a man has to do.

She told the cops that they were on their own, and had to confront the mob without my help. This struck a nerve. In their guts the boys in blue understood that outlaws and cops are pretty much the same when they’re not on the job. Just then, they heard the approach of the armed gang, coming to make the Major-General pay. Their trained reflexes cut in and the cops took cover.

Suddenly, the old soldier appeared, his nerves on edge. Sleeplessness from deep guilt will make a man crazy. The cops, acting as one, took cover to see why the old man was wandering about. The wind began to blow him here and there, and he started singing this weird little ditty. Just then his girls came looking for him. This was the moment for the gang to attack. The cops put up a defense, if you could call it that. But it wasn’t much. While his boys held down the cops, the Boss told the old soldier his number was up. Just then, something, maybe adrenaline, got to the sergeant. He went for a “Hail Mary” pass, betting that the mob still had a trace of national pride. With his voice almost cracking, he yelled out for justice and peace in Queen Victoria’s name. The gamble paid off. The pirates surrendered. The dame Ruth came clean about the pirate’s real background. Turns out they were all born high-hats and fat cats, who took a wrong turn. Noblesse oblige, yadda yadda. The M-G found it in his heart to forgive and hope for giving his girls away in holy matrimony to the pirates.  And that’s how yours truly found himself hitched to Mabel. True story.

Pirates in New York City

Written by Isabella Kopits

The Agassiz is buzzing with activity. For the past week, every member of the cast and staff has left the theatre with wood chips in their hair, paint splatters on their jeans, and smiles on their faces. Pirates is in tech week! It’s all hands on deck before we open on the 27th. Although definitely sleep-deprived, the cast is bursting with excitement. We’re going all out for this production, and our incredible staff has been working on overdrive. ’Tis the season for developing a caffeine addiction!

Although we’ve been working hard, Pirates is such great material to work from; Gilbert and Sullivan are both on our side this semester. According to the Gilbert and Sullivan archives, Sullivan wrote much of the operetta in New York. In an odd twist of fate, the city that never sleeps inspired our director, too, when he looked at the libretto.

The Agassiz Theater has always seemed to me like New York City, bustling, bright, and a little bit magical after the sun sets. Maybe it’s the glamour of the building or even the sounds of construction—something about this place grips my Broadway-loving heart and transports me to Manhattan.

Our brilliant set designer, Barra Peak has made fantasy into reality with our set, which looks more like a set from MGM Studios in the ‘40s. One almost anticipates Marlon Brando to appear on our two-toned set (until the cast bursts into song, of course). Leave the gun, take the cannoli (not into the theater, please), and prepare to see the grit of the New York City mafia collide with the hilarity of Gilbert and Sullivan in their most beloved operetta, The Pirates of Penzance opening Friday!

Get your tickets in a New York minute before they’re sold out!

Want to win free tickets? Take our Buzzfeed quiz and share the results on Facebook with #piratesatharvard to enter our competition!

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Sitzprobe!

Written by Michaela Kane

Here we arrrrrr a mere week from Load-In for The Pirates of Penzance! This
weekend we had one of my favorite events of G&S: Sitzprobe! Where the cast and
orchestra come together for the first time to sing through the entirety of the
semester’s operetta. From the Overture to the Finale, we all had a great time singing
through classics such as “Modern Major General” and “With Cat-Like Tread.” Thanks
to our lovely music director, Mateo Lincoln ’19, it was all fun and matter patters!
The evening also featured our multi-talented board members Aaron Slipper ’18 and
Arianna Paz ’19, who continue to wow us with their musical ability. Not to mention,
the lovely co-producer and part-time flutist in the orchestra, Richard Tong ’19!
Our production is truly beginning to make waves as we get ever closer to opening
night, so be sure to not mistakenly wait leap years to get your tickets for The Pirates
of Penzance!

Click here for our show dates. We can’t wait to cast off with all of you onboard!

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Pour, O Pour the Pirate Sherry!

The summer heat finally seems to be on its way out (knock on wood), the leaves are beginning to turn golden-orange, and another fall HRG&SP production has begun! Our designers are hard at work creating costumes and a set, our musicians are busily learning their parts, and the production staff is spreading the word. This week though, the Players took a break from rehearsals and build sessions to celebrate our annual Wine and Cheese event, bringing together casts and crews from The Mikado, The Sorcerer, and this fall’s production of The Pirates of Penzance. Wine and cheese was enjoyed, esoteric puns made (and enjoyed by some, I guess), and old friends reunited after a summer away.

The party is over, but we’re all enjoying everything the fall brings—new members into the G&S family, all the challenges of mounting the most famous of Gilbert & Sullivan’s collaborations, and the anticipation of sharing that project with you.

Getting Ready for a Spring of Sorcery!

By Barra A. Peak

As our 60th Anniversary year draws to a close, we look forward to the beginning of another 60 years of HRG&SP!  What better way to kick off this new beginning than with The Sorcerer—Gilbert and Sullivan’s earliest surviving full-length collaboration?

The Sorcerer tells the story of the high-class Alexis’s fumbled attempts to make love “level all ranks” with the assistance of the sorcery and potions of J.W. Wells. Will Alexis’ ideals prevail, or will all return to the status quo after the hijinks that ensue? Unique in many respects from the rest of the G&S canon, The Sorcerer is essentially a mockery of classical opera, twisting its plot and musical tropes for comedic effect. “Novelty shows” of this type would become the basis for modern musical theatre.

We hope to see you next spring for HRG&SP’s 122nd production! Show dates are March 24-April 2. More information about specific performances and receptions will be coming soon!

 

With Joyous Shout

By Richard Tong

The curtains closed on our production of The Mikado a month ago, and since then things have been much quieter at HRG&SP. This post-show lull—too early to rehearse the next show, too late enjoy the fruits of the last—is precious to us in a number of ways. As well as allowing our sleeping patterns to return to a relatively respectable pattern and providing a much needed respite to catch up on neglected school work, this period of calm gives us time to take stock and reflect on The Mikado. Continue reading “With Joyous Shout”

Post-Show Rest and Looking Forward!

By Alexander J. Raun

 
After living in the theater for tech weeks and the run of The Mikado, the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players have spent the past week resting and catching up on a semester’s worth of school. However, with the closing of one show comes the opening of the next, and we have started initial preparations for The Sorcerer, which will take place in the spring semester! The dates for the show include the weekends of March 24th and March 31st, 2017. We hope to see you there!
Additionally, despite our week of rest, we somehow couldn’t resist the stage, and on Saturday, November 12th, we performed a few G&S numbers in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals annual Fall Variety Show! The songs came from HMS Pinafore, Ruddigore, and The Mikado. Performers in the HPT Fall show included Aaron Slipper ’18, Arianna Paz ’19, Richard Tong ’19, Jake Corvino ’19, Sydney Mukasa ’18, and Alex Raun ’17. Thank you to all who came out to support us, and we hope to perform in the show again next year!

Mikado 2016 Historical Note & FAQ

Written by Ashley Zhou ’17 and Kat C. Zhou ’17

We distributed this document at the box office during the run of the show. Some of the responses to the FAQ have been revised slightly in order to clarify and enrich my original answers, which were written in haste before opening. 

A Brief Historical Note

The history of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, as with so many beloved Victorian cultural artifacts, is a history of imperialism: Western imperial powers’ thirst for dominance in an economic system they saw as a zero-sum game, the ever-growing urgency to find more trading partners, the dehumanization of non-white peoples as justification for conquest couched in paternalistic rhetoric of civilizing missions and Christianization. Of Commodore Matthew Perry docking gunboats in Tokyo Bay and calling the result of his actions, even to this day, an “opening,” as if to read choice into Japan’s forced entry into Western-controlled systems of trade and to turn away from the violence of that historical moment. Of the political upheaval of the Meiji Restoration, a direct response to this act of U.S. imperialism, and the economic consequences of the new government on Japanese people, many of whom emigrated, in the first large-scale Japanese migration to the U.S., to find opportunities on the West Coast or in Hawai’i, itself under the rule of white settler colonists.

Continue reading “Mikado 2016 Historical Note & FAQ”

Mikado Opening

Written by Kat C. Zhou ’17

Beware this is a long post! See section headers to find specific content.

This has been a whirlwind process, one that has even hit national news! I wanted to use this blog post to share some of my thoughts on what the show does, and what it might continue to think about for the future. I hope also to include voices (reactions from both longtime G&S fans and students on campus) besides my own in this post.

I spent time looking through the Crimson archives to see if I could find information on previous HRG&SP production of The Mikado. I believe that there have been 12 production of The Mikado in HRG&SP history, and as far as I can see, this is the first non-yellowface production (loosely categorizing the anime Mikado of 1997 as a form of yellowface), making the fall 2016 production of The Mikado a historically unprecedented one!

It is a paradox (a paradox!) to live in the present, surrounded by reminders of history, knowing that the present is constantly slipping away into the past. What might it mean to forget and to remember? This is a central question that has haunted me throughout the entire production process of The Mikado, and it is a question to continue to grapple with even after we have opened, even years from now.

Continue reading “Mikado Opening”