Hair - May 02 - May 04, 2019

The Beacon School

 A Note from the Director 

HAIR, the American Tribal Love Rock Musical, is a play about a war. In 2019, more than 50 years after the iconic work’s controversial debut in 1966, the violence in Vietnam feels like a history class data point for contemporary teens. Conceptualizing the military draft; the gravity of dodging it, the choice to conscientiously object to it, or the option to embrace it and hope for the best, simply has no parallel in the present day. Or does it?


As a creative community our task as theatre makers requires the deep dive beyond the “flower children” characters immortalized in the play. As a young person in New York City in 1967 the Vietnam War was the subtext of EVERYTHING so we have to look at ourselves in the present and take stock of how different the world is now, and frankly, how different the world is not.


We faced a lot of brutal truths in this play making process - the biggest one is the fact that not much has changed in America in the last 50 years. There is still so so much hate in this nation, and still so so much to fight for. But instead of a war half a world away, the war feels right here at home.


Recently my father, when downsizing his home, insisted I add a dusty box to the costume collection. My father doesn’t really talk about his time “in the service”, and thus the moment he handed over a pristine collection of US Army uniforms baring his name, held significant heft. “I’m sure you’ll make good use of them,” he said plainly, as if he handed me a cookie. 


The uniform you see in our play was issued to my father when he was drafted at 18 years old. It is hard to imagine him so small, but that says it all. So many of the servicemen drafted in the late sixties were kids. They were a year or two older than the actors you see on stage today. When I asked him if he was surprised, or scared, when his draft number came up he said, “no, I was going to enlist in two years anyway, and they just sped things up”.


The Army paid for my father to train as an engineer and go to City College. He was the first in our family to do so and without the draft, his career, and my family would not exist. For a working class kid with dreams beyond his Brooklyn block, the Army provided structure, opportunity and advancement.


So how do I reconcile the pride I feel for my father and his service to our nation with my own personal pacifism and abhorrence for the military industrial complex? I don’t have an answer. But we have HAIR.



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