Age of Aquarius
Rapping With The Tribe At The Pentacle
Following the matinee performance of "HAiR" at The Pentacle Theatre in Salem, Oregon, on Sunday, October 1, the audience was invited to stay for a "Pentacle Plus" discussion.
Larry Roach, Board Liaison for the show, made introductions and moderated.
Approximately seventy five people stayed for the informal post-show rap session.
Larry Roach, Board Liaison for the show, made introductions and moderated.
Approximately seventy five people stayed for the informal post-show rap session.
Larry: So did you have a good time today?|
Crowd: (whoops and applause)
Larry: I think a good hand for Randy Bowser, the Director (more whoops and applause)--and this cast. This fabulous cast.
You should know that on opening night the original Broadway producer and the author were here and they thought it was a great production, so that's some pretty high praise.
How many of you were alive (laughter) when this first came out? (majority of hands went up) How many were upright and taking nourishment? (more hands and laughter) They say if you remember the '60's, you weren't there. (laughter)
1968 was when this musical came out. The first rock musical ever on Broadway, the first musical ever to have its music, the album and several singles cross over onto the pop charts. It set a lot of records, and I think they're still setting records as we speak.
It was the year that unfortunately we lost Bobby and Martin. The Democratic Convention was going on at that time in 1968.
And "HAiR" spoke to a lot of people, galvanizing a lot of the movements that were going on at that time.
The 1960's were the biggest cultural and social revolution this country has ever seen.
Am I wrong? ("YEAH!"--and laughter)
What do you believe the message of "HAiR" is?--
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: I thought we got to ask the questions. (Laughter, hoots and hollers)
LARRY: It's all in the music really.
Realistically or not, we really did believe it was the dawning of the age of Aquarius back then.
In a play, the truth is usually in the lines, in this play the truth is in the music. We really did want the sun to shine in. There was a celebration of life, in the song "I Got Life." There was a questioning of past values and taboos in the areas of drug experimentation and areas of sex. And there was a declaration of pride in "Colored Spade."
Was hair a cultural thing when people grew their hair long? No, it was rebellion, it was "Here, Dad, what do you think of that?"
Finally, the search that everybody was undergoing at that time...
I think about a Far Side cartoon I saw. There was a doctor walking down the street with a gadget on his head...and he was walking through a neighborhood where a bunch of dogs were barking. And the caption said "Dr. Finklestein invents a machine to understand what dogs are really saying." And there's a little bubble over each of the dogs' heads and they were saying "HEY! HEY!" So the mystery is solved--that's what dogs have been saying all this time, and so now we can understand Woof. (overlapping cast comments)
SO it strikes me, that if this show is "shrill" as it was regarded then and is perhaps now, whenever we hear our dogs barking, we pay them a great amount of attention, but when our children were barking we didn't pay any attention at all, and we called out the police.
There are many people that think, and I know Michael Butler is believing, that it's time for a revival of "HAiR." He's selected I think it's 27 cities...(for a touring production).
That's a little background...let's open it up for questions from the audience.
A WOMAN: I want to ask the three cast members still in High School if any of your parents were reluctant to have you take part in this.
MARC (Cast): I'll answer this one. These are my parents--and I think they enjoyed the show. (BIG cheer from cast and audience as Marc hugged his Mom.)
LARRY: (chuckling) Does that answer your question?
JASON (CAST): My parents are here every night! (Jason's mother Pauli is the House Manager for the production, and his father Jahn is the hair-stylist.)
KALIN (Crissy): My dad wanted me to audition for this more than I did at the beginning. (laughter and whoops)
LARRY: Different than our parents, huh? (laughter)
RANDY: So that's three minors we have in the show, and that was an issue that we had to discuss with the Board of Directors. For quite awhile I thought I was going to be doing the infamous "nude scene" but the decision----(chuckles from cast over how Dawneka's breast fell out of her costume in a scene during the matinee )--but I decided that what was more important was to be able to cast younger people, than to do that (the nude scene) and I couldn't do both, after looking into Oregon law--that made sense to me. (chuckles)
WOMAN: They were really great. I'm glad you did cast them. (applause and whoops)
ANOTHER WOMAN: I would like to ask anybody in the cast what effect on you has the experience had?
CAST: ooohh----(general hub bub)
LARRY: Great question. (mike is passed to REUBEN who plays HUD)
JON (Stage Manager): This is Reuben's first show by the way. (HUGE whoops and cheers and applause)
REUBEN: I think for a lot of us it's opened our eyes. I mean, before I auditioned for the show I was reading some of the stuff in the show and I was like, "um---I'm supposed to say WHAt??" (laughter) But after awhile it's like no big shock. It just hits you and you're like "whoopty doo"--they did it back in the '60's, we can do it now, hell.
DON (Berger): I hadn't originally intended to audition for the show. I was going to like work and make lots of money--ha ha--and I ended up coming out and getting cast, and really knew very little about "HAiR." All I knew was that there were a lot of songs that were in the top 40 charts back then, and that there was a nude scene in it---whoo. Other than that I didn't know much about it.
At the first read through--God what a shock! But this show more than any show I've ever done is such an Experience. I mean, you keep hearing that from people who have done "HAiR" before--and to see it is like really groovy and all, but to be in it is just a complete experience.
I think I speak on the behalf of everyone that there's no cliques in this show. No little clique of friends over here and little clique of friends over there. We all get along equally, and it couldn't be any better. We are all one. (cast applauds)
LARRY: It's a Tribe.
DAWNEKA (Dionne): Actually--I saw the show the first time, one of my friends was in it, and it's very abstract--I didn't really understand it. The more I did it, the more a lot of these lines really started becoming real to me.
It was an expression of new life, new beginning, new sex. It's Okay--interest in drugs too. It wasn't about going to get fucked up. It was about opening your mind, ya know? "My mind is as clear as country air" ya know? That's the way they felt, that's the way they were, that's what we were experiencing.
For me, going day to day, growing an Afro--I'm not going to straighten my hair to be like you white people--I love my 'fro--I am black, I am proud (applause and whoops)--and for me now, these are things I've taken for granted. I have no understanding of how difficult it was to be a woman, black--or a man--ya know, any of those things--I don't want to be a TV set, I don't wanna be like my Mom and Dad--I wanna be me. I wanna believe what I believe and grow my hair long.
It's changed my life because we "got it" somehow--and we got it because we fought for it and you know, that's what "HAiR" is all about. (applause) Right on.
GEOFF (Phoenix): I think a lot of it for me--I know a lot of us weren't alive at that time--Um, well, except for Jon, he's the old guy around here, is that we really didn't have a clue as to what it was like. I mean everything we know about the '60's is stereotyped. I mean we learned so much about reality, so much of what it was like to be around in that point of time--It's a mind-expanding experience. It's incredible.
MARC: Just a small comment. I mean, it's already been said a little bit, but the Tribal atmosphere up here and starting back in rehearsals, this is just--we really are like a family---I mean, I treat these people like I treat my family, only I'm MORe open with them. It's like Hey--it's really amazing. All shows are a little bit like that, but it's amazing how much that is with this show. It's a true Tribe, and I love you all. (CAST--we "love yoooooou")
DAWNEKA: This lady here asked the question of if we'd wanna go back.
SOMEONE IN CAST: Um---no. (laughter)
THE WOMAN: Did it effect you so much that you'd like to experience it for real?
DAWNEKA: I can't imagine what it'd be like to experience it. People died. You know what I mean? We dance on stage and sing about it all we want, but there were lives lost. I'm just really glad I got the opportunity to do the show--I can get my chance to respect that...tears were shed, it was a difficult thing, so--personally, No.
SOMEONE IN CAST: Maybe for a day or two. (laughter)
DON: That's why I do shows--so I can do it without really doing it--there was a lot of pain back then--I don't want to have to go through that.
A WOMAN: Well you guys pulled it off perfectly.
CAST: ---thank you--
MAN: I saw the original "HAiR" in Boston in about 1969, and um, I was pretty young then, I was in college. It was a good time to be in college. (The show) was very inspirational then and spoke to the times and a lot of the basic issues are still right there in the woodwork that haven't gone away. This production was just as inspirational as the one back then, and I wanted to say congratulations to you all. (Whoops and applause)
A WOMAN: I also saw "HAiR" when I think I was fresh out of college...they had to add a row front row center, and they did do the nude scene and um it was glorious--it was free--it was floating--it was awesome.
How much music has changed lyric-wise and is there some new music in this because I don't remember the whole score.
LARRY: She was in the '60's. She doesn't remember!
RANDY: Real briefly, there are some--um--this script and score have never been in a really final definitive version. It changed even when it originall opened, it was immediately changing. Gerome Ragni and James Rado who wrote it, they kept improvising and adding more things. There was a major difference between the first Public Theatre production when Joseph Papp did it--between that time and when it was taken to Broadway, a lot of songs were added. And since that time, since you saw it, for instance the song "Hippie Life"--that was written in the '90s. It was the last song Gerome Ragni wrote before he died...The strange "Give Up All Desire," Buddhadalirama's song, that's new since that time. Galt MacDermot, the compser, he kind of tidied some things up. Some of the lyrics are a little bit different too, like the song "Air," James Rado, the surviving author, he did add some lines about radioactivity and that kind of thing. So they've been constantly toying with it.
SAME WOMAN: I have one continuing (question)---It's effected you, but how deeply? All the social injustices that were there, still are. So how much as it moved you to get into action, or is it just a play--and you're glad you don't have to live it.
RANDY: Um hum. That's a really good question. Does anyone feel you're becoming an activist because of this, or are you an activist as an artist and an actor?
DAWNEKA: I don't think you can avoid it, ya know? (over-lapping conversation)
RANDY: She's asking if you're gonna go out and join--
HEATHRE (Jeanie): Join a commune---(more over-lapping conversation)
THE WOMAN: I'm asking if you're going to make a difference.
RONNIE (Sunflower): These people that we've created, they're extensions of who you are--it's not some made up person--It's something that comes from inside and comes out, so I think that's something you HAve to do because it's who you are.
LUCAS (Magaret): I vote, if that's what you want to know. (BIG laugh and applause)
DENIS (Prop Master): I think by putting the show on, that it makes more people aware, like you--so the cause goes on.
LARRY: Incidentally, Randy and I were talking with Michael Butler and James Rado about the issue of the music and the book and so on, and I think it was Michael who said that whatever version you're doing right now IS the definitive version of "HAiR." (some chuckles)
REUBEN: I'll say this, that if everybody in the world would do "HAiR" it would be a much happier place. (applause and agreement)
ANOTHER WOMAN: I saw "HAiR" in 1971, I was in my late 20's in Willington, New Zealand. They weren't going to let them do the nude scene. I went with a New Zealander and the feeling--I had left Haight Ashbury just before it turned, and the feeling was very different---It was a wonderful time in my life, and I have wonderful memories, but today the hair on the back of my neck stood up--it was spectacular, and I can't say---I wish every person in this area could share the gift of some of your talent and energy, at least for their exposure, because it was wonderful. (CAST---thank you!---applause)
A MAN: Another relative "oldie" having seen it in 1969 in San Francisco. Wonderful job you guys. Act One seems the spirit of liberation--"here we are as people" and so forth, "accept us." The second act takes a whole more serious turn and twist--a reality check, so to speak--and that has a certain kind of impact on the total experience--had not act two been there, just off the top of my head--if you could respond one way or the other--
RANDY: Oh, I love that. You're saying that without Act Two that it wouldn't nearly have the importance--
MAN: --nor the profundity or the--um---
RANDY: Right--that's a great observation. You know the names of the characters--Berger is the leader of the troupe and, Claude--Act One is considered Berger, the Id center of energy of The Tribe, and Act Two is considered Claude, the story of the ego and the challenge it has to go through when he's having to decide what his response to the government will be.
SOMEONE IN THE CAST: "Wrong heads." (laughter)
RANDY: That line "wrong heads"--do you remember that? There's so much in the show you may not remember that particular line--it got a good laugh today. That's the newest line in the play. I was doing a lot of conferring with Jim Rado on this version. There's a lot of material in this version which hasn't been seen before...It's about three weeks old, that line.
RONNEE: "This country's run by--run by--"
JEFF (Claude): Wrong heads! (CAST, laughing: Wrong heads!)
WOMAN: Actually this is just a comment. I um, lived through what you guys just went through showing us. I was in the march in Washington. I was in Manchester, New Hampshire, dragging our students---we had to go back and get some of them out of jail--um, I was in San Francisco, in Berkeley in the People's Park era. I'm wearing a set of beads that my son made for me when he was in one of the alternative schools in the People's Park. I was involved in the new school movement of that era, and I just want to say that you brought back so many old memories--thank you so much! (applause and whoops)
LARRY: I mentioned to somebody at intermission that I was getting flashbacks, and they became very concerned--um, I wasn't being literal--(laughter)
A WOMAN: I saw the orignal production on Broadway, and I was only 10 at the time...this was fantastic. I've seen it a few other times, even in Iowa, but I really love this production and I think it's great that you did it. Keep on doing it! (applause)
RANDY: The Board of Directors was concerned about doing this production at first. Some people thought that we woudn't sell tickets! (BIGGEST laugh of the evening) Some people actually said the condescending thing that "Salem isn't ready for HAiR"--Thank you for proving that they were wrong. (tambourine shakes and applause)
I don't mean to hog the thing, but the nude scene has come up a couple of times, and I thought it would be interesting to share with you --the very first production did not have that scene in it, it's not in the script. It was something that was added for Broadway...A lot of people who saw the show then, though they don't all agree, the people I've talked to, said that though it was nicely done, that it upstaged the ending of Act One. That's Claude's soliloquey recapping the one plot device of the entire first act. These people didn't even remember that because they were watching upstage, literally upstage of the main character, people taking their clothes off.
So it's still quite a debate today whether or not it's relevant---what became more important to me, besides what I said about the age thing earlier, was if it was artistically effective. I really couldn't quite picture how we were going to do it without upstaging that song. It's interesting that some people, that the public in general thinks that scene is part of it --it's become so famous. Thank God there's a lot more to it than that--so one can do without it...
SOMEONE IN THE CAST: Except for Dawneka! (CAST: YEaaah!)
RANDY: ---spontaneous nudity.
LARRY: It must be jelly because jam don't shake like that! (WHOOOOOOOOOOOO!)
We were talking earlier about the Tribal nature of this show. Just for your information, on opening night, not only did we have Michael Butler and Jim Rado here, but we had a French Canadian who'll be plaing Berger in Italy--we had two women had done the production of HAIR in Argentina, and we had yet another member of the original cast, Walter Michael Harris. It was like a real gathering of The Tribe--and in seeing some of you that I probably bumped into back then and don't remember, it continues to gather.
Any other questions or comments?
A WOMAN: I have sort of a diffcult comment. Are any of you Vietnam Vets?
LARRY: I am.
WOMAN: I think, having been in the '60's, and having protested, and making my own decisions, if I were a guy, what would I do etc--um,...as a teacher now, and I teach the war, I always invite Vets to talk to my High School kids, because they (the kids) love the idea of war, like it'd be fun to go out there and kill. And so the Vets come and tell the truth. They've been the greatest anti-war statement that I've ever heard. I wonder if you've thought of giving free tickets to Vets and having this dialogue with Vets.
I'm wondering what the response would be from the community here in Salem---We know what we did to the Vietnamese, we saw it at the time, but the Vets are carrying the scars right now. They don't sleep, they tote guns, they can't carry on relationships--all sorts of things. And I'm just wondering if you've thought about that--loading this theatre with vets.
RANDY: I think that would be fabulous. Larry introduced himself to you just now as a Vet. He came to one of our rehaersals to talk about his experience in Vietnam--I thought it was important to especially balance the experiences that were relayed to us by Robert Herzog, about how he was Woodstock--and so he was sharing how his life was very much like these characters---to balance that we had Larry who was in the military and served in Nam. And I hope you noticed that in the program insert, I had this dialogue with The Manchus, um, who I discovered on the Interent---a group of Vets who have their photographs on-line, and I asked them to be part of the image program in this production. It was---really difficult just e-mailing the webmaster who was a Vet, because he knew it was for "HAiR" and I've saved those letters, because it was really something else for both of us--we're both around the same age, around 50, um, to overcome the preconceptions we had about what each other are all about. And him giving permission to use the photographs was really incredible I thought.
So--but that's not on the scale you're talking about. It's a wonderful idea. I mean, as far as practicality of how we could do that, I don't know, but---(to cast) has anyone been aware of anybody introducing himself as a Vietnam Vet after seeing a show? (no--no)
LISA (Choreographer): Um---
RANDY: Lisa's good, because she's been working with Vietnam Vets. This is Lisa, my choreographer! (whoops and applause)
LISA: I just have a really brief comment about that--I'm in a Master's program and I'm doing my internship at Salem Vet Center. After much deliberation, I did gently mention that I was choreographing this, and um, it was met with sort of ponderous hesitations. I just wanted to say, um---I don't think so.
VET WOMAN: But they're so against the war, and so against our participation in the war--you know, that's where I go to get my speakers...they blow me away.
ANOTHER WOMAN: I just cried through the whole end of this because I was remembering all the people that were lost in the war. I sure can't imagine a Vet coming in here and participating--because it was awfully painful for me--so--
LARRY: Well, one DId come in here.
A WOMAN: I thought the play was great, you guys, your energy and your talent. My question goes to a whole different area than your performance--and that's the van--(cheers and applause---some confusion over if she said "van" or "band")
RANDY: Oh--you mean the Bus--(the psychedelic bus parked outside the lobby)
WOMAN: Yes, the bus--so it's sort of a selfish question, because I'd like to know some of the artists--'cause I'd like to hire you. (CAST: US!)
RANDY: Denis Lafferty was the Property Master--(HUGE whoops and applause)
He made single handedly the giant head of President Johnson--that's what we affectionately call The Big Johnson (giggles) and he also made the 10 foot penis that came out during "The Bed" and lots and lots of stuff for the show, and he was...in charge of the Bus project. (discussion followed about if we're selling the bus)
DENIS: There is a guy who's interested in buying it--he's with the Art Fair, so I need to give him the first offer--but we're taking names and numbers for an auction.
A MAN: ...by 1970 or '71 this culture was making its presence known in Vietnam. I was there and there was about 15 or 20% that were really part of this culture that were serving in Vietnam...
LARRY: Welcome home brother.
Any other comments--questions--praise--Haiku
JON: No I just do Origami.
JUSTIN (Woof): I got a joke. (laughter)
RANDY: (Standing to applaud the audience) Thanks for coming!
LARRY: Thank you very much! (applause--some playing with the ballons used in "The Bed," then Tribe and audience made a slow exit, putting the show to bed for the night.)