Need a new theater? Try Cabot.

by Simon de Carvalho '14

Harvard’s theater community seems to get bigger and more ambitious every semester. And in recent years, the traditional theater spaces have not been able to contain the amount of student theater produced on campus each semester. One of the spaces whose prominence has been growing recently is the Cabot House Theatre.

Currently, Cabot House Theatre is home to a production of The Fantasticks, which runs through December 8. Tickets are available at the Harvard Box Office or online here.

I spoke with Boyd Hampton ’16, the publicity manager for the Cabot House Theatre Board, about the company, the theater and the future of it all.

This has been a big year for Cabot Theatre. Can you talk about it?

We're kind of hitting new ground this year. Typically, the Cabot Theatre Company only does the musical in the spring, and this year, we extended that to three shows. This is something we'd like to see continue. Basically, we want to encourage Cabot students as well as outside groups who may not get space elsewhere to come to Cabot and test out their talents in a relatively lower-stress environment.

Going forward, we'd love to see more applications for space, and we'd be as accommodating of them as possible. Cabot House is also going offline this summer and getting renovated, and the theater should be receiving a great number of renovations. Hopefully, it will no longer double as the JCR, we'll get a real green room, and potentially some technical improvements.

What do you see as Cabot's place in the overall theater scene here?

For one, I see Cabot as a place where students who want to explore their theatrical talents can go if they want a lower-stress environment to do so. If you're a Cabot resident or not, if you do a show in the space, you have the support of the entire board, as well as the house administrators, and a family feel is established immediately. Second, I think the space itself is unique compared to others on campus in that it has the intimate feeling of the Adams Pool while at the same time having movable seating. That makes it very versatile, and means it can be incredibly well suited for certain projects.

As someone who has been heavily involved in Cabot Theatre for basically all of your time at Harvard, can you talk about your experiences? What do you like about Cabot specifically?

I joined the Spring 2013 production of Bye Bye Birdie halfway through the production process by taking a small non-singing role that they needed filled. I ended up being trusted with a huge amount of responsibility, including stage-managing, and through that, I had the opportunity to learn new things about theater and leadership in general. I also loved the closeness of the cast and staff, which seems to be a common component of Cabot Theatre. Cabot does a good job of getting the entire house involved in the production, which creates an energy that is unparalleled by any other production I've been a part of on campus.

How does the Cabot Theater do as an actual theater? Are there types of shows it's particularly well suited to? What kind of shows do you look for?

Cabot has it's challenges. For example, some of the technical aspects are fairly limited. The lighting is less versatile than in other spaces, and we don't have a big workshop, so that can create some problems. The space is well suited for shows that are more straightforward in their technical needs. For example, The Fantasticks works best with a minimalist set that also allows the cast to interact with the audience, making Cabot the perfect venue. In other words, Cabot is best suited for smaller scale, intimate shows, where the chief mode of artistic expression comes from the script and cast themselves, rather than intricate tech.

Cabot Theater isn't just for people in Cabot, right?

No! Anyone is welcome (and encouraged) to apply for space in Cabot. There is some precedent for this, as last year the HRDC production of True West was performed in the space. Those interested in applying should email for an application. Part of the Cabot Theatre Company mission is inclusivity, which we believe can be lacking in the theater community on campus. Anyone and everyone who is interested in getting involved should reach out, and it doesn't have to be with traditional theater: an outside group is putting on a magic show in February.