by Gerome Ragni, James Rado, Galt MacDermot

The Willamette Tribe

Salem, Oregon

September 22 through October 14, 2000

A description of Pentacle Theatre's production of HAiR

as directed by Randy Bowser

part four of narrative description

Berger with his American flag guitar

House lights down. In the dark we hear a strange looping sound--perhaps of huge alien wings flapping? Voices start calling to each other. "John?" "Yoko!" Over and over the male and female voice call to each other and grow in intensity. Some of us recognize it to be the voices of John Lennon and Yoko Ono calling to each other on their avant-garde "Wedding Album."

A pool of light comes up on stage left and African American Tribe member Charlene comes on followed by Hud. They perform a sensual dance together as John and Yoko start screaming each other's names. Other Tribe members start emerging in the patchily lit darkened set. Two people carry on a yellow bath tub, decorated with Buck Rogers-style artwork of planets, stars and an Art Deco spaceship. As they place a pole with a psychedelic sign on top that says "The Intergalactic Bathtub," which has the disembodied peeling arm of a mannequin proping the sign up---the sound now adds new voices: "Lucy?" "Ricky!"--as early television's favorite couple join in on the chant previously established by the voices of Lennon and Ono. A few people who get the quirky humor of it all chuckle in the audience as more Tribe members enter.

A couple we've noticed in Act One enters with faces intently staring at each other just inches away from each other as they glide in---as if locked in some alien mating ritual. Girls up above check the Christmas tree lights strung up and around the set. An ancient gramaphone is lifted out of the tub and placed on one of the scaffolding's platforms. Two girls add banners of blue that feature painted-on stars and planets.

Jeanie enters, followed by Phoenix. As she did in Act One, she is ignoring his apparent attempts to strike up a conversation with her. As Sunflower runs on to join the gathering party, Berger bursts on from under the bridge and the general lighting bumps up.

In a dialogue section new to the script, Berger expresses how pissed off he is that Claude has disappeared and hasn't been heard from for several days. Sheila, Woof and Apache can't calm him down as he leaves with the unexpected announcement that he sometimes "hates this freedom."

Crissy enters from down an aisle as Berger exits up the other. With a crotched shawl and old fashioned hat, she is playing at being an elderly woman for the amusement of the Tribe which is now sitting in various casual clumps around the stage. To cheer them up she puts on her favorite record from childhood--Kate Smith singing "The White Cliffs of Dover." As the needle on the old victrola grinds out the opening lines of the old song, and the Tribe moans with mock-pain, one of the girls gets up---scoots the needle across the record--ZIIIIP!--and "ELECTRIC BLUES" replaces the sonic landscape.

One girl takes to the stage right mike as two others appear on the bridge, dressed in floral print dresses from the "granny look" fad.

From under the bridge, a Crooner, dressed in a snappy light pink double breasted suit and old fashioned hat appears. He holds up a blue megaphone, decorated with stars and planets just like those on the walls and thrust platform of the set. Striking a graceful Rudy Valle pose he sings "an old fashioned melody."

The "Mommas and Poppas" style song builds, and big power chords take us instantly into a new mood.

The girls on the bridge throw off their break-away costumes, revealing Barbarella-esque silver lame halter tops and bikinis. A pink oil and water light show starts bouncing behind them. The Christmas tree lights suddenly blink on and start flashing. The Tribe is up and dancing, twirling flashlights like electrified batons.

"Thump rackety whomp rock"---and Berger emerges dressed in an open-chested Roger Daltry fringed vest, with a flashy guitar that has an American Flag motif painted on its body. Behind him, Apache and Woof appear in blue jump suits that remind us something of Mork on TV's "Mork and Mindy"---absurdly small football helmets complete their off-the-wall Flash Gordon look as they robotically shift through a series of mechanical poses.

A Man In Black appears, and through his large dark glasses we can detect his utter contempt for the wild electrified party. He finds Twiggy, now a full grown pot plant. He brings it down stage---reaches into his holster and pulls out gardening shears. As he moves in to cut the plant down, in reaction, Berger starts smashing his guitar on the floor, Pete Townshend style. He finally succeeds in breaking the guitar into pieces and a loud explosion is heard, followed by ominious electircal arching as the stage is plunged into total black.

Amid the confusion we hear one Tribe member mocking the possible thoughts of some people in the audience as he says "Hey Agnes, they've already cut the nude scene. Can we go home now?"

The search for the fuse box has scattered everyone to the back and sides of the house. Black light is the only illumination on stage now--making the chains of daisies glow prettily in the dark.

A figure appears. It's naked Aquarius (a posing pouch is all he wears) painted with Aboriginal designs that glow under the black light. He slowly dances as if coursing with the life of some unknown but potent power. "OH GREAT GOD OF POWER" brings some of the Tribe back on stage as the song slowly and majestically swells. Some are carrying metal wind chimes which add an evocative tone to the ritual.

Aquarius moves to step off the platform, but one girl takes his arm and slowly swings him around back to the center of the stage. Going in the other direction, another girl swings him back to center in the same way. More are on stage now. They surround him with awe and reverence as their flashlights continue to bounce around the theatre, and offer glimpses of the lithe dancer's body.

Someone has a large stylized sun mask. She lowers it over Aquarius's face as The Tribe moves in. As they chant "appear appear"---suddenly the general illuminaton bumps up bright, the mask is taken away, and where Aquarius was standing, we see a grinning, seemingly happy Claude.

After a brief reprise of "MANCHESTER" during which The Tribe dance an arm and leg flailing happy looking rendition of "The Freddy"---the British Flag caped Claude lowers his duffle bag to the floor. He explains that he had to get away and meditate. And while he was gone, he went to another planet--Exanaplanetooch, where the air is pure and you can drink from the river.

He gives his belongings away. Jeanie inherits his tambourine, which has the same sun face as the mask in "GREAT GOD." Sheila receives his British Flag--Berger does a "guerilla warfare" improv of "shooting" The Tribe when Claude tosses him his gorilla mask. Seeing the Tribe convulse and fall to the ground as if shot may be remembered by the audience later during the violent moments of "3500."

Woof's erotic reverie over the Mick Jagger poster Claude has given him becomes a group pile up. When the entire Tribe is tangled up in a human knot, with Claude still standing and trying to keep the atmosphere fun and not out of control--everyone suddenly freezes. Berger has called Sheila over to him.

With the rest of the stage in moody backlight, Sheila is asked by Berger to have sex with Claude as a going away present---in case their friend really decides to let himself be drafted. Sheila's supposed belief in free love is challenged---she becomes insulted at Berger's request. Berger leaves her, angry, and yelling at her that their relationship is over.

Claude, ever the peace maker, tries to mellow Berger out. "You got life man! I got life, man!"--but the Tribe leader has stormed off. Angela lets out a yelp when Hud pinches her butt. She says "You got life? Huh uh! HE'S got life!"

"BLACK BOYS" finds Angela, Purple, and Sunflower in doo-wop girl choreography at the stage right mike while Hud and two other guys sing at the stage left mike. The rest of The Tribe has moved down stage to watch, sitting with backs out.

After Fern dances a teasing little dance with Hud at center, suddenly on the bridge we see Dionne, Charlene, and Darlene, all dressed in silver and black sequined dresses and wearing blonde wigs. We launch into "WHITE BOYS."

Three guys get up to dance, three girls join them, and pull them down to the stage floor. During the song, with "The Supremes" executing a tight Motown routine on the bridge, the three couples perform their own routine on the platform, on their stomachs with legs bending up into the air--then sitting sideways and scootching along the floor.

As Dionne wraps up the song with "give me a tall, a lean..." the three guys have their girls stretched out under them as they thrust down at them in an unexpected and lusty representation of missionary-position sex.

While everyone is still whooping with the energy stirred up by the number, Berger is entering with a bag of grass. Soon everyone is around him, wanting to sample the now dried and ready to smoke Twiggy.

As Woof holds the now empty Indian pot, bemoaning the loss of his favorite plant, everyone spreads out and sits in a symmetrical pattern on the floor.

Sheila and Jeanie are confusing Claude with their incomprehensible comments to him as Hud comes back on wearing a large Wooly Mammoth head, and is operating its flexible trunk with a wire.

Berger and Dionne bring on an exotic looking Hooka, pass out the stems, and "WALKING IN SPACE" begins.

During "My body my body" everyone has stood and is now slowly exploring their bodies--eyes closed, amazed at the sensuousness of their own touch.

Charlene is up on the bridge. As she starts singing "My body is walking in space...," streaming lights start pouring out behind her on the screen. There's a sense of flying and vertigo as the "2001"-like light show continues.

"Red black...," and in time to the music, flashes of light accompany The Tribe's sudden arm movements as they watch with tripping happy concentration on the "tracers" they're creating in the air. On the screen, saturated crystalline images are cross-dissolving and melting hallucinagenically.

"All the clouds are cumuloft.." finds The Tribe discovering each other. They reach out to each other in pairs, mirroring the liquid movements of each other. The color of light keeps changing in waves over the turned on Tribe.

Apache and Phoenix are suddenly at the edge of the platform in fire red light as they bark out the lyrics "To keep us under foot they bury us in soot"---and they are off in a running march as soldiers, their women running after them in anguish.

On the screen, vibrating cinema-verite footage of The Tribe floating in space and looking above them in awe.

The Tribe comes together to the center in a slowly writhing ball of energy as they touch each other. Jeanie and Sheila are holding each other down center as they sing "we find the purpose of peace."

On the screen, a figure is dancing in deep blue space in time to the music.

"Our eyes are open..." and The Tribe gently returns to their previous sitting positions. The song ends with them all in lotus positions, eyes closed, and plunged deep into peaceful trances.

The intrusive sound of a helicopter is suddenly bearing down on us. As Claude sits down stage in a yellow spotlight, The Tribe is up and with backs out, and hands clasped in two rows---they're making a screaming zig-zagging exit, trying to escape the meancing whirling sound of the chopper.

We're surprised to see Hud at the back of the auditorium, in a spot. His hair is short and he's dessed as a Sergeant. He's barking out orders. Down the other aisle, in full combat uniform come three Tribe members as soldiers, chanting out "I wanna go to Vietnam, I wanna kill a Vietcong..."

When The Sergeant herds the soldiers up into the set, Claude joins them. On the screen we see helicopters---and the chopping sound fills the air again.

With green searchlights sweeping slowly over them, all the soldiers bail out from the scaffolding as the looping footage of a 'copter fly-by over a Vietnamese countryside is flickering on the screen.

The search lights continue as the group drifts to earth, arms bent up as if pressed back by wind. When the Sergeant opens his (invisible) 'chute, an imploding whooshing sound is heard--all spin off, leaving Claude to land on earth and nervously gather up his (also invisible) chute.

An oriental version of "Where Do I Go" is heard plunking and droning as a picture of a thick jungle fills the screen. After a few moments of Claude fearfully looking about the alien landscape, shrill screams fill the air. Two girls in straw Vietnamese hats are running for their lives diagonally across the stage, being chased by a young angelic faced soldier.

As Claude's eyes widen in terror, his yellow spot blinks out and a fife is heard playing "Yankee Doodle." A girl with an absurd white nightmare horse mask comes galloping down the aisle, with Berger right behind her, pantomiming his ride on her. When they take to the stage, we see he's wearing an extremely long royal blue velvet cape bordered with flag-like white stars. His troops are three girls which remind us vaguely of the famous painting of bandaged Revolutionary war soldiers--but they're in the middle of a bumbling Three Stooges routine as Washington barks out his orders to them.

A day-glo colored sign hangs around his neck in a psychedelic take off on Brecht's "epic theatre" techniques. On the screen, the gibberish of movie film leader is flashing---as if Claude's movie-obsessed mind is trying to make cinematic sense out of his trip.

Woof comes on with a tiny toy snare drum strapped around his neck, and impossibly huge drum sticks whacking away at it. He and Washington do a synchronized comic leap of panic and run off as cliche Indian whoops start emerging from backstage. The girl with the horse mask frees herself of the prop and runs off as the soldiers huddle together with quaking knees.

Children playing cowboys and Indians immediately comes to mind as The Indians enter whoopoing and on the screen the credits for a John Ford Western starts flickering with unnatural tripped out slow motion. Children's war bonnets are on the Indian's heads, and sticks painted day-glo orange serve as bows as they start spouting their absurd dialogue.

When Crissy as "Little Beaver" downs the soldiers with a single arrow---indicated with Crissy saying "boink"---the Indians make their child-like clumsy exit as John Ford's black and white vision of the desert keeps sweeping across the screen.

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Strands of HAiR