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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 5995745

Harvard Law School Drama Society records


This collection consists of the records of the Harvard Law School Drama Society from 1961-1995, including scripts, scores, and materials relating to production.


  • 1961 - 1995


Conditions Governing Access

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library. This collection is open to the public, but is housed off-site at Harvard Depository and requires 2 business-day advance notice for retrieval. Consult the Special Collections staff for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Law School Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Special Collections staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Harvard Law School Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.


12 boxes
The Records of the Harvard Law School Drama Society cover the years 1961 to 1995. The Law School's annual shows are represented along with performances of plays and variety shows. Material includes: original music and scripts, (including solicitations for scripts), production and budget information, correspondence, cast lists, schedules and audiotapes of the productions. There is also ephemera such as posters, photos, fliers, tickets, cast t-shirts and programs. Reviews, articles and newspaper clippings are also included. Information on early productions is generally limited to photocopies of reviews from the Harvard Law Record.

Historical/Biographical Information

In 1961 a small group of law students seeking a creative outlet and a brief respite from the rigors of their studies formed the Drama Society and established the tradition of having an annual show called an Equity Review. Soon, the annual productions acquired playful titles like Lawyers, Lunatics and Lovers, in 1964 and The Recline and Fall of a Law Student in 1965. By 1966 the shows developed plots, departing from their previous variety show style formats, and patterned themselves after Broadway musicals with Kid Me Not Or The Matter of Tot (1966), Laity Luck (1967), The Jealous Mistress (1968) and The Spider People (1969).

By 1970 with Have Law, Will Gavel's humorous references to Ralph Nader, the annual show tended to parody current events, popular culture, literature, film, and the specific concerns of Harvard Law School students. Sometimes Law School professors were lampooned and some even chose to pitch in with cameo roles. The annual shows or parodies during the seventies were as follows: From Here To Perpetuity (1971) which had a philosophical theme, The Greatest Show Unearthed (1972) cast the Law School as a circus, Praise the Law and Pass the Erudition (1973) was a Dantean journey from hell to paradise, The Paper Waste (1974) parodies the movie " The Paper Chase ", Shake A Legacy (1975) was a lighthearted Western, Laws (1976), parodied the Spielberg film " Jaws, " Holmes Is Where The Hark Is (1977) poked fun at Arthur Conan Doyle, It Takes A Fief (1978) was informed by Arthurian legend, Paradise Remanded or Replevin Can Wait (1979) was a Faustian parable. Supraman in 1980 parodied the movie " Superman. " In 1981 the group performed a comedy about love and romance called Contempt of Courtship and in 1982 the musical was set in a summer camp for law students and entitled Summery Proceedings. Hitchcock's " North By Northwest " was evoked in 1983's North By North Middle, Orwell in 1984's 1984 and 1985's Starry Descisis was a Sci-Fi spoof. The students tackled Dickens with 1986's A Commencement Carol and made reference in 1987 to popular television program " Dallas " in Austin...Who Shot J.D.?. In 1988, Malice in Wonderlaw drew from the children's tale by Lewis Carroll. In 1990 the musical The Crimson Slippers Or There's No Place Like Holmes was informed by the film " The Wizard of Oz. " Bernstein's " West Side Story " was the inspiration for the tragic West Law Story (1991), and The Cocky Lawyer Picture Show (1995) parodied " The Rocky Horror Picture Show ".

The annual musical parodies were not the only shows that the HLS Drama Society produced. After 1978, nearly every year in the fall, the group staged an annual musical revue evocative of the earliest HLS Drama Society shows, the Equity Reviews. Some of the titles of these productions are From Rags To Rhythm (1978), Something L's (1979), Prisms (1980), It's A Long Way to Certiorari (1982), Judicial Revue (1983), Just Desserts (1984), Puttin' On the Writs (1985), Hollywood Briefs (1987), and It's A Long Long Way to Certiorari.

In addition to these shows, the Drama Society occasionally staged dramas by famous authors and occasionally well known musicals. Some of these kinds of productions were Caucasian Chalk Circle (1979), Twelve Angry Jurors (1981), The Importance of Being Earnest (1982), The Real Inspector Hound and Sacre-Tease (1983), Blithe Spirit (1984), The Gingham Dog (1985) Working (1986) an original musical based on a book of the same name by Studs Terkel, The Apple Tree (1998), Dancing At Lughnasa (1994) and The Fantasticks in 1995.

Series List

  1. Series I: Reviews, tickets and programs. Photocopies of Harvard Law Review articles reviewing the student productions, along with programs and tickets. Some folders in this series contain script information, invitations, receipts, promotional information and some correspondence.
  2. Series II: Scripts. This series contains final versions of scripts as well as drafts, synopses and information pertaining to script development. Some scripts contain songs, music,lyric sheets, programs and director's notes.
  3. Series III: Musical Scores. This series contains original concert scores, orchestral parts, piano and vocal music, and lyric sheets for original shows. It also contains songs and that were not composed by Harvard Law School Drama Society members, some of which were orchestrated by members of the Drama Society for performances of variety-show style Fall Annual Revues.
  4. Series IV: Miscellaneous. This series contains fliers, newspaper and magazine clippings, promotional material, production information, financial information, cast lists and audition information, director's notes, some correspondence, some script information, licenses, permits, and prop lists.
  5. Series V: Audiotapes
  6. Series VI: Clothing. Transferred to the Art and Visual Collection
  7. Series VII: Posters. Transferred to the HLS Poster Collection. The posters are arranged chronologically. Also contains some large drawings.
  8. Series VIII: Photographs. Also contains negatives and contact sheets. Transferred to the Art and Visual Materials Collection.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Contact Curator of Modern Manuscripts and Archives.

Processing Information

Processed by Amber Coughlin, Fall 2003
Link to catalog
Harvard Law School Drama Society Records, 1961-1995: Finding Aid
Harvard Law School LibraryCambridge, MA 02138

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections Repository

Harvard Law School Library's Historical & Special Collections (HSC) collects, preserves, and makes available research materials for the study of the law and legal history. HSC holds over 8,000 linear feet of manuscripts, over 100,000 rare books, and more than 70,000 visual images.

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