Guest Feature: An open letter to the cast, crew, and production of HAIR the Musical: BRAVO

First off, BRAVO! Everyone’s performances were spectacular, and the crew and production team put together a wonderful set design. I was particularly touched by this show, and I think that it needs to be said. This show is symbolic of REVOLUTION. Not like a “bang bang yehaw” revolution, but revolution in the sense of a change in society and culture. This is the type of revolution that was not only needed in the 1960s time period of the show, but it is also needed TODAY. Look around and you will easily find evidence of injustices and oppression. This show is not only discussing the Vietnam War, but also the racial and feminist issues of the time period. These issues, however, are not just history. They are current events, and these types of issues are present in today’s society whether or not all people would like to admit it.

oped

Sometimes I hear people say things like, “If I lived back then, I would’ve been such a hippie, such an activist.” And to you I say, nope. No you wouldn’t, because there are plenty of things happening RIGHT NOW in the world and in this country that deserve attention. WHERE ARE YOU RIGHT NOW? Are you helping solve problems, or are you perpetuating them with your apathy? Are you caught up in the system that is blatantly screwing the majority of us over, i.e. capitalism? Where are you when we talk about the one percent? Where are you during the modern day Civil Rights Movement, fighting for lives that have been lost due to the racist state of our country? Where are you while we fight against fracking, deforestation, pollution, and a long list of other environmental issues? Where on you in the fight for LGBTQAA+ equality? Where are you while we march to end gender inequality and sexual assault? Where are you while we stand at the front lines, fighting, researching, solving problems, finding solutions, proposing legislation, boycotting, making waves, writing, and calling people out? Again, where are you really?? The same duties to be an activist are just as alive and well today as they were 1960s. So allow yourself to become self-aware, just as HAIR tells us!

haiiir

As generation Y, we get a lot of heat for not being involved enough or being addicted to technology or being slackers or whatever. But guess what, previous generations handed us the world in this state. Like a torch handed off to us at the end of its wick, as it burns our knuckles. It’s our duty to the earth and to humanity to address these issues. We are running out of time. Look at the state of the environment. Look how species diversity is on the decline. Look at how black men and women are killed and oppressed at epidemic proportions. Look at how Native Americans are still fighting for their land and for rights to their own crops. Look at how women, especially women of color, endure epidemic proportions of violence, rape, harassment, and assault. Look at what groups are always on the receiving end of “jokes” and discrimination. Look at how we are so terrified of letting immigrants into our country. Look at how we have only known a world where the U.S. is at war. Look at how we are so quick to blame those suffering from injustice…for their own injustices. What is wrong with that picture? Why don’t we turn and blame the systems that structure and mold our society? Why don’t we blame our clearly non-functional government? Why don’t we blame the greedy, elite, straight, white dudes, living it up with their one percent lifestyle? OUR TIME IS NOW! In this moment, we are called to the front lines to fight injustices. It is our duty not only to the earth, but to EACH OTHER. We are all in this together, and it’s so important to never lose sight of that.

Marchers at Raleigh's first Moral Mondays march of 2014, February 8 (United Workers/Flickr)

To me, this is what HAIR the Musical is about. These are the reasons that the show is still running in 2014 and will continue to run. It’s about calling to mind what issues are relevant TODAY. No matter what year your “today” happens to be in, you are being called to reflect on the injustices happening at that moment all around you. But not only just to reflect, but also to take action, to get angry, to get organized, to gather communities and bands of people together, and to most importantly—effect positive change. I thank everyone involved with HAIR the Musical for calling to mind my own self-awareness, which I will use as momentum for my activism. I call on everyone to do the same. I was inspired by the show, and I can’t wait to try to see it a second time to see what else I can gain from it.

Now, in light of all I have just written, I call out the fact that a particular number was pulled from the show. This was a number in which the only black man was supposed to shine and reach out and touch people by blatantly calling out the ongoing racism. This was supposed to be symbolic of the Black Power Movement. To leave such a piece out is not only disrespectful to the black people in your cast, but it is also racist and an example of symbolic annihilation. Symbolic annihilation is the act of misrepresenting, under-representing, or not representing at all a certain group of people. In this case, you cut out the song that is supposed to call attention to the racial issues in the show, therefore removing that experience—rendering it invalid or unimportant. This is symbolically annihilating the issues that black people faced in the 1960s and the issues they continue to face today.

protest

I would now like to mention the scene where a black woman dresses up as Abe Lincoln and gives his famous speech, with a white girl polishing her shoes with her hair. She does a marvelous job calling out the fact that black people do not have to conform to “whiteness” to be deemed as acceptable by society. Take a moment to think about what that scene really represents. She exclaims, “I ain’t dyin for no white man!” as she runs off stage after John Wilkes Booth comes out with a gun. Think of how many black women have been oppressed, beaten, pushed aside, disrespected, abused, and killed at the hands of the “white man” (i.e. our androcentric, white supremacist systems that are in place). What a powerful scene it was, and I extend an extra bravo to those involved.

As an activist, this show touched me. It touched me to remember all the activists that have come before us and have fought for many of the rights we now know and take for granted today. Think and reflect on those who have come before us, and extend a thank you to them. But also, use that as fuel and momentum to address the issues and injustices that are happening TODAY, right in this moment. These are just of few of the many thoughts I was left with after seeing the production, and I would like to thank all those involved in the production (cast, musicians, crew, production team, etc.) for helping me to come to these thoughts and revelations.

Peace, Love, and Thanks,

Jillian Ditch

P.S. Stay radical. Radical people are the ones who change the world.

P.P.S. GO SEE HAIR AND CHECK OUT THE THEATRE DEPARTMENT AND THEIR PRODUCTIONS! (http://www.coastal.edu/theatre/html/2014-15/hair.html)

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