History of the Faculty Show

This year’s presentation of skits, music, and dance by members of the faculty and administration continues a quadrennial tradition that began with Seven Princesses in 1903, according to the College archives and special collections. One article suggests that the show originated to raise funds to build Mary Woolley Hall. The event was repeated every four years thereafter, with proceeds from ticket sales benefiting a range of campus projects, such as furnishings and equipment for the new health center in 1960 and scholarships in 1972. Faculty who hammed it up for the 1956 show, titled Ham’s Tales from Shakespeare, for example, raised more than $1,500. Their skits parodied both Shakespeare’s plays and Roswell G. Ham, MHC president and Shakespeare scholar, and lampooned integrated (interdisciplinary) courses, the then-current trend in education.

The 1984 X Libris or, Out of Print! had fun with books, “great and otherwise,” from Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter to Jane Fonda’s Workout Book. Its skits included “Scarlet Letters or, The Wages of Syntax: A Grim Allegory,” “The Thyming of the Stew: A Spicy Rehash of Shakespeare,” and “Jane’s Fighting Hips (of which Jane are we Fonda?).” It also included a legendary, off-themed performance by the Faculty Band.

Records show that in 1988, faculty agreed to stop the show, which had become difficult to arrange and rehearse due to time constraints of dual-career families and increasing numbers of faculty and staff living far from campus. Disappointment voiced by the senior class prompted a 1988 science faculty talent show, followed by a 1989 Faculty Know Show. In 1993, the campus enjoyed Faculty Show for Seniors, which was repeated, with some new material, in 1994. These improvisations reestablished the faculty show tradition, although recent productions have been much less extravagant than early ones, which included elaborate costumes, makeup, sets, props, printed tickets, and original compositions of choral and instrumental music.

Photos courtesy of Archives & Special Collections
History courtesy of the Mount Holyoke College website

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One response to “History of the Faculty Show”

  1. Donna Albino says:

    Thank you for posting this! I have been wondering for ages what caused the production date to skew from the Summer Olympic years to the Winter Olympic years.

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