Deciphering the Tribe: Understanding and Recreating Hair
Hahn, Marla Renée
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The beginnings of this Senior Independent Project were humble, to say the least. In fact, it all really started as a joke. Two years ago, in my "pre-French major, pre-study abroad, pre-Frelon director" phase, I brushed past one of my philosophy-major friends (who has now finally admitted that he is wonderfully flamboyant). In the perfectly mastered Kalamazoo College art of saying "hello" to an acquaintance in only seventenths of a second (because we're all too busy for anything more in-depth), he looked me straight in the eyes and said, "By the way, the Festival Playhouse is doing Hair in 2004. I'm going to be the lead, and you're going to be the choreographer." He then winked at me and continued on his way. I was a little stunned at first, but I shrugged it off as another one of his self-centered prophecies. I even forgot about it entirely-until I met Festival Playhouse Director Ed Menta at a meeting almost 18 months later. We eventually spoke about the possibility for me to choreography the show, but I think both Ed and I were a little apprehensive about my involvement: I have a strong dance background, but almost no formal musical theater training. I decided that I would have to make up for my inexperience with extensive research and a thorough investigation into the phenomenon that is Hair. What follows is the product of that first encounter, which seems now to have been almost eerily psychic. Although auditions have not yet been held, my friend will undoubtedly try out for the lead role-and I'm the choreographer. Maybe Hair coauthors Gerry Ragni and James Rado had the right idea when they kept an astrologist and a tarot card reader around to help make important decisions about the show. After all, this really is the Age of Aquarius ...