HAiR Strands

Hello CyberTribe,

Since I have been quite busy of late, I have fallen quite behind in reading this blog. Now that I’m back, I am very happy to see that it has gotten quite active again!

Hebe and I attended the Fullerton College production of HAiR, and enjoyed many aspects of it. The singers were especially powerful, probably the best that I have heard in any musical stage production outside of opera. I only wish that they had paid as much attention to acting as they paid to the choral work.

We especially enjoyed going out after the performance with Tom (Patrick) Proprofsky, who played Berger in this production as well as in the Candlefish and many other productions, and Jon Rosen, who is helming an upcoming production of HAiR in San Jose, California. It was great tossing around staging ideas, reflecting about what we liked from past productions, and proposing new ones. This discussion was, IMHO, both interesting and educational, and I propose that we open the discussion/brain storming session up on this blog.

Several blog entries ago, Jon asked “How to shed the clothes” at the end of Act I. As I read his posting, he proposed having the tribe remove their clothes “during the swirling dancing of the Be-in.” Then either 1) have the tribe huddle together only turning to frontally face the audience at the end of “Where Do I Go?,” or 2) add a nude ballet to “Where Do I Go?,” as I heard was done at the Reprise production at the Wadsworth several years ago. He also asked about the use of a parachute or cloth scrim.

Personally, I have felt that many, if not most, of these nude scenes (and ALL productions that used the parachute EXCEPT that done by California State University, Northridge) were “negatively gratuitous.” I should define what I mean by this expression. By “gratuitous” I mean any action that is not directly tied to the narrative of the plot or the establishment of the “feeling” of the scene. I use the term “negatively” to mean that the action harms, or, at least, distracts from the meaning of the scene. I wish to emphasize that I have nothing against gratuitous nudity. I only object when its use negatively impacts the production. I was bothered with the way the scene was presented when I first saw HAiR at the Aquarius, and less so by the circa 1970 San Francisco production. This reaction has continued with many contemporary productions.

I see use of the parachute, or other form of scrim, to hide or obscure the nudity as indicating a furtiveness and shame that flies in the face of the free, in-your-face spirit of HAiR. The only production that, I feel, got away with using the parachute was that of CSUN, where the director, Gary Lennon, used a parachute in an innovative three-part scene. First, he had some tribe members waft the parachute up and down to reveal flashes of other tribe members underneath who were performing various sexual acts. Then they lowered the parachute to cover the tribe members who were undressing underneath, and a naked Claude rose up through the center hole (a la The Birth of Venus). Claude’s walk off the undulating cloth was reminiscent of Christ walking on water (although I am not quite ready to see Claude as a Christ figure). Finally, the parachute was raised and the naked tribe members stood up and faced the audience. Even though the last part of this scene was quite dimly lit, the sheer artistic concept so impressed me that I did not find the scene at all gratuitous.

The best handlings of “Where Do I Go?,” IMHO, were that of the Candlefish and the Act This! Repertory (at Los Angeles Valley College) productions. In these shows, neither a scrim nor other obscuring items was used. The scene was performed in a matter-of-fact, shame-free manner, and with reasonable illumination.

One approach that I thought of would be to have the tribe getting naked in the Be-in while dancing to “Hare Krishna” in bright, warm light. Borrowing from the paperback script, Sheila would come out dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Sheila would carry a torch in which the draft cards would be burned. When Claude is unable to burn his card, the lights would turn cold and dim somewhat as the tribe shrank back covering themselves for shame (they have been brought back to reality, lost their childish innocence, and fallen from the garden of Eden) while the still naked Claude sings “Where Do I Go?” (Incidentally, even though I was born in New York, I still tend to think of the Statue as the familiar representations of Lady Justice with one breast bared as seen at the U. S. Department of Justice and on many courthouses rather than a female version of the harbor-welcoming Colossus of Rhodes) (I should point out that Hebe finds my ending to Act I way too dark for her liking. She prefers having the tribe remain naked and go back to playing children’s games, giving Claude an example for “… follow the children. …”)


Talking of “nude scenes,” I would like to have “Walking In Space” performed in the buff as was done in the ill-fated original Mexican production. I understand that Leo Lunser also stages it this way. Unfortunately, neither Hebe nor I have seen one of these productions. The bare bodies, moving sensuously and touching themselves and others tenderly seems to me to be almost demanded by the lyrics! As an additional touch, various images, such as mandalas, pictures of other tribe member’s bodies, or space/astral images could be projected on their bare skin in addition to the traditional oil-film projector patterns. I remember the wonderful and peaceful effects watching projections like these had on me “way back when.”

I hope that some of these rambling thoughts and opinions prove helpful to you, Jon, and I eagerly look forward to comments from others on this blog.


Now, on to several other topics. Below, I have listed, in stream-of-consciousness order, several other staging ideas that I have either seen, heard of, or personally conceived of. I hope that this sort of “stirs the ’pot’” and elicits other tribe member’s ideas.

  1. Preshow: I feel that two shows vie for the best pre-show activities designed to break down “the fourth wall:” Candlefish and Fullerton College. Candlefish had the tribe playing and doing somersaults and tumbling, which drew in and relaxed the audience while both establishing the child-like nature of the tribe and demonstrating their cohesiveness. This mood was successfully communicated to the audience. The Fullerton College production had the tribe members roaming through and among the audience while playing games, dancing, playing musical instruments, and talking with us. I like both of these approaches, and think that combining them, where possible, would be even more powerful.
  2. Jeannie is very intriguing and crucial tribe member, a fact that seems to be more often overlooked by directors than emphasized. Though she is described as very young (a “teenybopper”) who is often “zonked” out of her mind on drugs, she is the one person who sees all aspects of the tribal interactions clearly. She is the one who delineates the tribe’s complex love-lust daisy chains. She is the one who makes the most sober and mature attempt to get Claude to burn his draft card. She shows the most maturity, silently suffering as Claude, the love of her life, chooses Sheila over her for his going-off-to-war fuck. She is the quintessential non-judgmental “hippie” when she accepts him back without complaint or recrimination. If anyone in the tribe truly is a Christ (or, more accurately, Mary Magdalene) figure, it is she. Depending on how she sings “Air,” she even can be considered the most environmentally conscious tribe member! She serves as a modern-day “Greek Chorus,” and I enthusiastically endorse Nina’s idea of having her sing “Hippie Life” after her “…anyone who thinks pot is bad is full of shit!” speech, as she most truly exemplifies the hippie ideal. It also would be appropriate for her to be part of the duet/group singing “What A Piece O(f Work Is Man.” I find it most unfortunate that several directors of late have apparently not seen the importance of her role, and have cast Jeannies of who, to say that they “phoned in” their performances, would be overly charitable.
  3. Hebe and I loved James Rado’s change to “Air” where he substituted something like:
  4. I feel I’m rather attractive,

    now that I’m radioactive.

    Watch me spark!

    I glow in the dark!

    in place of the repeated bars at the very end of the song.

  5. CSUN had a most effective staging of “Initials” where they had a perfectly choreographed scene with the tribe miming hanging from (IRT) subway straps while reading newspapers. The newspapers had large letters painted on them, which they used to spell out the various acronyms in the song.. Fullerton College tried something similar, even painting some letters on the bare chests of tribe members. Unfortunately, due to lighting and choreographic problems, Fullerton’s version did not work as well as CSUN’s.
  6. Fullerton College had a most interesting staging of “Dead End” where they used sections of chain link fencing mounted on wheels to enclose tribe members. CSUN had a uniformed policeman enforcing the song. I think that these approaches could be combined and then greatly strengthened by having the tribe carrying peace signs being herded behind the fence by policeman/men. At the end of the song, a large panel labeled “Designated Free Speech Zone” would be hung in front of the fence to totally obscure the protestors. This should resonate well with today’s audiences.
  7. Many shows utilize visual projections to “assist” the audience’s understanding, sometimes going so far as to illustrate every drug mentioned, etc.! I have found these to be very distracting and actually detrimental to comprehension of the show. I did, however, really like Port Hueneme’s use of photographs from the Viet Nam war as a lead-in to Act II. Hebe differs with me on this point as she likes the visual enhancements to the performance.
  8. Jon Rosen suggested having some solo voices on “Flesh Failures” to more clearly convey these complicated lyrics leading into “Let The Sun Shine In.” Hebe and I concur. This is, after all, the answer to Timothy Leary’s query, dearie.
  9. End of Show Idea: As the cold winter Flesh Failures segues into the plea Let the Sunshine In, the lighting goes from cool, dark blue to warm, bright hues as the tribe discards their “heavy winter coats”. This scene could be even more powerful if it ended with the tribe naked, connoting vulnerability, openness, and lack of pretext.


Okay, tribe, the gauntlet has been flung! Let’s hear your ideas! Comment on mine. Tell me where you agree and where you think I am full of shit! The forum is open, let’s have fun!



This entry was posted on Sunday, April 8th, 2007 at 1:16 AM and filed under Uncategorized. Follow comments here with the RSS 2.0 feed. Skip to the end and leave a response. Trackbacks are closed.

28 Responses to “HAiR Strands”

  1. bleurose said:

    I think many of these ideas are really good. Of course, we will be developing ideas during our rehearsal process with the tribe, and I think I will at least consider using some of them. I particularly want to consider nudity during the Walking In Space number, because I too see it as being potentially enhancing that number. During our auditions, Dudley Brooks (our choreographer) had the actors trying out dance an improv to Walking In Space with a lot of suggested movement that resembled lava lamps. It was very intriguing and with selective nudity added, it would be quite good.

    I also like the ideas for the ending, although there are potential problems with nudity at the end if the audience is to be invited up on stage. I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but I am not 100% sure the tribe would be comfortable with that and I am also concerned about having legal issues to deal with. It shouldn’t be that way but reality is what reality is.

    We are treading water on visual effects. Our first venue may be too small to use them effectively and projectors that can cut through stage lighting aren’t cheap. If we can get Robert Morris who did our liquid lights in Santa Cruz back, it won’t be a problem, but if we have to use video projection, I’m not sure. I don’t see it as crucial to the show and anything like that will be dispensed with if necessary.

    I personally found the opening at Fullerton not that effective. Why? Because it wasn’t integrated with the audience coming into the theater. First we were an audience and then, poof, at the magical appointed hour, when everyone was seated, the pre-show announcement was made and the tribe showed up and did a very long “entrance”. Yes, they mingled, but what they really did was “act” in our midst.

    I want my tribe to REALLY mingle with the audience from the very beginning, like a real street scene from the 60s (or even modern day Santa Cruz and Haight). The biggest issue we are working on is how to do the required pre-show announcement including the legally mandated “exit” announcement without halting the pre-show to show transition. We are trying to find out if a large-type printed announcement that is handed out to everyone as they enter will be a sufficient substitute.

    I have many more ideas, some of which I will just keep under my hat because I want some of you to trek to San Jose and see the show. We will be offering a really good discount for Hair Blog readers.

    Hope to see you all there!

    Salaam/Sholem/Peace to all,


  2. JohnZ said:

    Hebe and I really like the audience being invited to join the tribe in celebrating on stage, but your concern regarding the possible legal problem of having the audience dancing on stage is a very valid concern. (Years ago I attended a Living Theater production of “Paradise Now” at the University of Southern California’s Bovard Auditorium that was shut down by the Fire Marshal backed by about 100 Police officers on the grounds of “too many people on stage!” Obviously the police had ulterior motives in that case, but having audience members on stage can still present both legal and insurance problems.)

    I do not believe that having the audience celebrating on stage presents any significant problem to having nudity in “Let The Sunshine In.” This is because most productions that I have seen place a significant delay between the closing bows and the celebration with the audience to allow the tribe pick up their discarded “winter coats”, and other loose material on the stage. Most, if not all, of them exit, to return slightly later to invite the audience up on stage. This break not only serves the practical necessity of clearing the stage, it also serves to protect the seriously fervent plea of the tribe to “Let The Sunshine In” from being diluted by the celebratory bacchanal with the audience.

    As for the problems with utilizing relatively inexpensive projectors within your production, I think that they may not be as serious as you may expect. City Garage, an avant garde theater that I assist technically, has had great results utilizing both slide and home-style dlp projectors within many of their productions. (Unfortunately, I had to build a remote control and dowsing system for the home-style video projector because it had the nasty habit of putting up “No Video” on the screen when it didn’t have a feed. I also had to build a custom dissolve system for the slide projectors because the commercially available units were suited more for automated presentations than live stage use.)

    The biggest problem is that the albedo of even the lighter-skinned tribe members is still quite low. In your favor is the fact that the human eye is extremely sensitive and subjective brightness is based more on contrast ratio than on actual brightness. I believe that following the admonition in “Walking In Space” “…lights low, flames high…” for this sensuous scene should allow even home entertainment level video projectors to be used.

    Loved your desire to closely intermingle the tribe with the audience before the show. I must admit that my appreciation of the Fullerton College opening was rather biased by the fact that, when I returned for the closing public performance, I was recognized as a returning audience member by one of the tribe. He ran up to me, jumped into my lap, and started a long conversation with me!

    Your production sounds like it is going to be spectacular, and Hebe and I feel that it shouldn’t be missed. I have been given the wonderful opportunity of doing the lighting design for a recently licensed HAiR production in Los Angeles, but I am confident that we will be able to get away long enough to see your production.

    Blessed be with peace, love, freedom, and joy!

  3. herbangirl said:

    My head is spinning with all your great ideas! BTW, I’m directing a production in Sacramento with Artistic Differences Theatre Company – we open May 3rd! Anyway, here are some of my thoughts.

    Pre-Show: I like having the tribe interact with the audience. I’m not much of a fourth-wall-breaker in general, but that’s definitely something I have to let go of for this show! I plan to have tribe members in the lobby, in the audience, and onstage throughout the pre-show period. GOOD POINT about the pre-show announcement, Jon! I wasn’t planning to have one (mostly because I hate them as a rule) but I forgot about the new mandatory requirements…hm, I’ll have to think about that.

    Visual Effects: I want to have them, but we’re having trouble finding someone to help us with it (anyone???). It’s an effective way to bring the outside world into the tribe’s den, so to speak.

    Nice thought about winter-to-spring lighting for the end of the show! I’ve actually planned to do just that, so it’s nice to hear it from others. I think we’ll stay in stage for the end of “Sunshine”, then do bows, then interact with the audience.

    I love all the ideas about nudity in other places in the show…I’ve had quite a bit of trouble getting my cast to go nude for the end of Act I (about 60% of them are going to do so) so I doubt I could get them to do more. But I look forward to hearing about other productions!

    I agree the San Jose production sounds like it will be amazing. Can’t wait to see it!


  4. JohnZ said:

    Thank you, Maggie, for your kind words. Love the name of your theater group.

    Re. the mandated pre-show announcements: Since HAiR is structured as a stage production (as exemplified by the pan handling of the audience and Claude’s admonition “The audience” to his “parents”), I think that any pre-show announcements that must be made verbally to the audience could be integrated into the pre-show activities of the tribe relatively seamlessly.

    Although visual effects would be nice, especially for “Walking In Space,” they are not really necessary anywhere in the production. So, don’t sweat it if you can’t find someone who could help you with them in the short time before you open.

    Regarding nudity: Most of the HAiR productions that I have seen have only had 20% to 70% of the tribe joining in, so your figure of 60% is really at the higher end of the range. I can see the wonderful gratification of having the entire tribe feeling free enough to want to join in, but it is critically important that tribe members who do go skyclad do so because they want to. Also, when the whole tribe gets naked, it could appear to the audience (and possibly rightfully so) rather obligatory “It’s the end of Act I, so now they are going to do the nude scene,” rather than appearing that different tribe members just felt like getting naked at the moment. I feel that the traditional placement of the nude scene during the last few bars of “Where Do I Go?” exacerbates this problem. So having some tribe members choosing not to might actually help the scene.

    Personally, I would feel rather uncomfortable performing in a sensual/sexual rendition of “Walking In Space” WITHOUT being naked. I don’t feel similarly motivated about going nude for the usual short flash at the end of “Where Do I Go?” That traditional staging (especially when very short and dimly lit) has usually seemed out of place and somewhat gratuitous. It felt to me like Tom O’ Horgan just put it in to boost intermission sales in the lobby, but I guess I am being rather judgmental.

    Wishing you the best.

    Blessed be with peace, love, freedom, and joy!

  5. dbeasley said:


    This is my first time responding to this blog, but I thought I would put in my 2 cents. I am currently playing Woof in Jon Rosen’s production in San Jose and I am also a director myself. The nude scene always tends to be a problem. I have seen 5 different productions of Hair ( the Candlefish, UCLA, UCI, Reprise, and in Palm Springs…I don’t recall the name of the theatre group). The Candlefish production handled the scene the best in my opinion by simply taking off their clothes. The message was that we shouldn’t be ashamed of being naked and the scene in that production was very effective. I believe that when productions use dim lighting and scrims and whatnot, they are actually saying the opposite…that the cast is embarrassed or ashamed, so they had to find a way to do the nude scene while being able to hide the nudity. Now, to be honest as a cast member in an upcoming production, I appreciate why groups use dim lighing and scrims/parachutes. I know that it makes the cast feel more comfortable knowing that the view will be obscured. Unfortunately, I am not one who is very comfortable being naked in front of people and am on the fence as to whether I will do the scene (dim lighting and parachute or not). However, I feel the most effective way to do the scene is in bright light with no inhibitions. Every other way looks as if the cast is obligated to do the scene and is very uncomfortable doing it. Just my thoughts

  6. Mike Blaxill said:

    Just want to add my 2 cents .. am reading these great comments and just wanted to respectfully disagree with the thought that dimming the lights and undressing uder a parachute/large sheet (like O Horgan staged it) sends the message of being ashamed. Most people I talk to who haven’t seen the show think the nudity in Hair is sexual or provacative. After seeing the show myself for the first time (the Julie Arenal-directed version in Bridgeport Connecticut that was very close to original staging) I saw that the nude scene, occurring as it does in Where Do I Go, wasn’t sexual at all but, in my opinion, a very complicated mixed bag of vulnerability and doubt and courage and liberation….So I thought, “Brilliant!! They lure the audience in with salacious promises of naked young beauties and give them the old bait and switch” .. So Joe Citizen who would otherwise come to the show just for the promised sensationism is treated to something else entirely. In a lot of cases I’m sure that audience member’s reality shifted enough for him to be a better person… I think that the dimmed lights and sheet and subdued tone of the scene, for the original authors and director, was the specific emotional message that they intended. Hair is a very clever show and, in my humble opinion, this bait and switch is one of the best surprises.

  7. JohnZ said:

    Hi, Woof,

    Loved your post and your being so forthright about your concerns in acting while skyclad. Yes, my girlfriend and I found the Candlefish handling of “Where Do I Go?” far more effective and closer in keeping with the spirit of HAiR than all of the other productions … many of which used concealing parachutes or scrims.

    You mentioned that you saw the UCLA production. How did you like their rewrite of hauling the naked guys off to jail while keeping the girls naked on stage as long as possible with the cop’s statement that they had better things than jail in mind for the women! Aargh! But, I think it was in keeping with the general ugly tenor that permeated that production.

    With regards to your trepidation of going naked on stage. I do not know what your previous experience(s) with public nudity have been, but I will relate my introduction to it. I know that it reads like the plot line of a 60’s “B” sex comedy, but, I assure you, this is exactly the way it went down!

    Back oh so many years ago, I signed up for a dating/relationship workshop that was advertised in a local paper. At the time when I registered, I did not realize that the facility where it was to be held was a clothing-optional “growth center” named “The Elysium Institute” off Topanga Canyon in the local hills.

    When I arrived at the headquarters house, I was surprised to find that virtually everyone was naked.

    I parked in their lot and tried to enter the grounds by flitting from building to building because I was so embarrassed to be seen. I only made it partly onto the grounds … almost to the pool … when I realized that I just was too embarrassed to continue, and so returned expeditiously to my car.

    Once back at my car, I stripped naked, stowed my clothes in the trunk, and re-entered the grounds unashamed. The rest, as they say, is history.

    A final comment re. the group nudity in HAiR. When an actor performs a scene naked on stage, he/she is performing the scene naked on stage and receives hushed, almost reverent attention, at least until the novelty of the lack of attire wears off. When an actor participates in a group nude scene, I believe that the audience perceives the GROUP as naked, not the individual actor!

    I will admit that I have a problem as an audience member with short group nude scenes, especially when dimly lit, as the scene is often performed in HAiR. I have found myself yanked out of the dramatic narrative and locked in the mental exercise of trying to enumerate which cast/tribe members are going naked and which are not. Maybe I am just strange, and the nude scenes do not have a similar effect on most audience members, but I am distressed that this has somewhat diverted my attention away from Claude’s pivotal song, “Where Do I Go?” The two productions that I saw where Claude was naked for part or all of this song (the “Act This!” production at Los Angeles Valley Community College” and the production at California State University, Northridge) successfully re-focused my attention on Claude and the song.

    Thanks, again, for your comments.

    Blessed be with peace, love, freedom, and joy!

  8. dbeasley said:

    Thanks for the response John. I also agree about the short group nude scene. It can be distracting. When the scene is too short and uses all of the other things we have talked about, it seems like a cheap device. Claude’s nudity is also a strange thing to me. Our director doesn’t believe that Claude would be naked because that is the moment in the show where he is starting to detach himself from the group in preparation to go off to war. I see his point, but that has never come across in the productions I have have seen. I have seen it both ways-one where Claude is naked and one where he is not. When Claude doesn’t get naked, I always feel disappointed because it is such a great group moment and I feel cheated that Claude isn’t participating. Again, since it has been explained to me, I understand why you would choose not have Claude participate. However, in practice, intentionally separating Claude from the group has never made sense to me. I’m a pretty bright guy and I never once got that Claude would be separating himself for a good reason. I think there is too much going on to get that as audience member. Or maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe I am too distracted by all the nakedness at that moment to really think about Claude’s deeper motivation. I think I would choose to just have him participate in the nude scene, but, then again, I am all for everyone(except me)being naked in most situations (ha!).
    Thanks for the discussion.


  9. JohnZ said:

    Interesting comments, Dennis.

    I must admit that I have much difficulty getting my mind around the concept that Claude is trying to separate himself from the tribe at any time. I see Claude as a dreamer. Rather than trying to confront his life and change it, he instead flees into fantasy such as his Manchester, England persona. He tries to fit in with the tribe by feigning the burning of his draft card not once, but twice, before he is put in the position of really having to “put up or shut up.” He goes to the Be-In/Suck-In where everyone knows that they intend to burn draft cards, rather than just not attending. When he is ultimately unable to burn it, he doesn’t try to justify his position in opposition to the tribe, instead he shows that he is a poor, lost soul looking from guidance with his song “Where Do I Go?” And, where does he appeal for guidance? “The children,” “their smiles,” i.e., the “Flower Children” of the tribe. This doesn’t seem to me like he is intentionally distancing himself from the tribe in any way.

    Your thoughts?


  10. dbeasley said:

    Hi John,
    I think I see things along the same lines you do. Here is my long response:
    To me, the show is mostly about the conflict between the generations as opposed to an anti-war statement. There is obviously an anti-war element and it clear that noone is in favor of the war, but the theme that makes the show timeless is that the main conflict is between the young and old. The war is a metaphor for the old or the establishment and the conflict the tribe has is more because they feel oppressed as young people than because they care about the conflict in Vietnam. Sheila seems to be the only genuine war protestor. She is the one that is returning from the political rallies and leading the protests. The rest of the tribe is more into the scene for the social interaction and liberation they feel from the mores and constricts set forth by their parents, teachers, etc.
    Claude seems to be caught in between the youthful exuberance of the tribe and the sense of duty and responsibility to the older generation. I actually think the movie version (even though it is hard to call it a true depiction of the musical) explores that theme very well. Claude seems to go whichever way he is pulled the hardest, so I believe that it makes sense that he would change from scene to scene who he is loyal to. He obviously is influenced by the tribe because he spends so time with them and he obviously has some kind of connection to the establishment because he refuses to burn his draft card and goes off to war. He also is the one who calls Margaret Meade “cool” because, to him, she represents some kind of hybrid between the young and the old. So…
    To me it seems perfectly logical for Claude to participate in the nude scene because I believe he will follow whoever leads him. At that moment in time, the tribe is the leader and they are getting naked and it seems that Claude would participate just to fit in. In “Where Do I Go?” he spends the whole song deciding who to follow (intangible things like “the children,” “their smiles,” “the windsong” “the neon in young lover’s eyes”) as opposed to forging his own path. We get a glimmer that he might trust himself (“follow my heartbeat, follow my hand”) but it is steeped in such question and doubt that we are not led to believe that he is going to grow into a confident leader in control of his own life anytime soon. Claude is the everyman of this show caught between the reality he has been taught and the reality he is experiencing on his own. He is like most of us, knowing that the truth lies at some point in between the jargon and propaganda of the extremists. He is just not sure exactly where that point is. He is afraid to make a true commitment to either side because he is worried he might get it wrong.
    What do you think? I have to say I am enjoying the conversation.


  11. Mike Blaxill said:

    my thoughts … there’s a speech (and i don’t remember when exactly) when Claude says, and i paraphrase, “I don’t know if I want to be a doctor or a businessman or a..etc, etc… but I’m tired of being homeless..etc” (maybe someone who knows these lines can relate them exactly) – to me that speech really defines Claude. By being with the Hair tribe he’s rejected the straight world but he knows the choices are going to get limited and he doens’t like ANY of them…or doesn’t see a future in any of them. The tribe is a blast for him but he’s got a pragmatic streak that a true revolutionary, like Berger, doesn’t. I think the reason he goes to the war is because he doesn’t like where any other option leads him and he may, in a sense, have decided to throw in the towel…leave the planet…Good Morning Starshine! I don’t see it in terms of leading or following … he just doesn’t know!!..and although Hair is about so many things, the whole Walking in Space sequence together with the ending of the show with Flesh Failures/Sunshine/Claude in uniform then a casket is one of the greatest anti-war statements ever made in this country.

  12. bleurose said:

    Woo hoo! Thanks, Dennis, for dragging me back to this post (I didn’t know there was an active interaction going on! 😉

    Since I have been quoted (or at least paraphrased), I think it is appropriate to point out that I may have been paraphrased slightly incorrectly (or maybe I didn’t clearly state what I was thinking when we discussed this during rehearsal).

    I don’t see Claude as distancing himself from the tribe in Where Do I Go. That moment comes much later (during Good Morning Starshine/The Bed). However, I definitely see Claude’s NOT getting naked as a metaphor for the conflict he sees in himself (as has been so eloquently noted by Dennis, John and Mike).

    Claude is clearly NOT quite the free spirit that Berger is. He would LIKE to be, but he holds on to some of the conventional trappings. Unfortunately (as has been poitned out) this often doesn’t read clearly on stage the way the show is written. I think that is why Milos Forman (unfortunately, in my opinion) chose to recast Claude as a conventional “Oklahoma boy” in order to make the differences much more apparent. In the movie, Claude falls in with the tribe, but is never really part of it whereas in the play, he is always a real member of the tribe. That makes what happens to him less understandable, EXCEPT that if you lived through that era, you know (as I did) MANY people who were unconventional in their civilian life but, for reasons of family, traditional values, upbringing, whatever, when duty (the draft) called, they went even though they might not have even believed it was the right thing to do. Hell, I got lucky (number 312) and I can honestly say I don’t know what I would have done at that moment in time (I like to think I do, but it is a lot easier to say you would have dodged the draft from the 20-20 hindsight of never having actually had to do it).

    So back to the nude scene. I have always (from the first time I saw the show on Broadway) saw the scene as the first glimpse the audience gets of Claude’s deep-seated conflict, and not getting naked is something that (at least if done right) makes that clearer. Unfortunately, this always gets mixed up with the problems of how to do the nude scene to begin with.

    As Mike says, I am not sure anymore (although I once was!) that the way the scene was designed to be done on Broadway wasn’t the best way for what Ragni and Rado intended. On the other hand, there was a real LEGAL reason it was done that way as was described in Barbara Horn’s book on HAIR: the cast HAD to undress under the “covers” so to speak, because it was ILLEGAL in New York for them to be on stage undressed and MOVING! It is hard to get naked while standing perfectly still. Once naked, the cover was taken off and they were not only naked, but NOT SUBJECT TO ARREST!

    And of course, the script is completely mute on this point. The nude scene isn’t even described in the script, so it is only possible to do it from a perspective of anecdotal information (admittedly from some very good sources, such as the authors themselves, and the original producer, etc.)

    And we have the novelty of having a Claude who WANTS to do the nude scene 🙂 So I may end up changing my mind anyway, even though I am so far not inclined to do that! 😉

    Peace and out!


  13. bleurose said:

    One mo’ thing. I don’t see Berger as a revolutionary. He is much more of a hedonist than a revolutionary. I think Berger puts up with Sheila’s activism because he loves her (or at least loves going to bed with her).

    This is OBVIOUSLY a gross oversimplification but I think most everyone who lived in that era will agree to some extent that most girls did a lot of things (go to peace rallies, burn bras, protest, go to folk song concerts, etc.) because they really believed in it and most guys did them because that’s where the girls were that they wanted to sleep with 🙂

    Yes, there were truly young men and women who were real “radicals” (SDS, Weathermen, SNCC, etc.) but I don’t think Hair is about them. Hair is about the much larger mass of young people who went to Woodstock, who saw Grateful Dead concerts, who smoked a good deal of dope and maybe did a few acid trips, but then grew up and ultimately became (if they didn’t keep the faith) yuppies or (if they kept the faith) Steven and Elyse Keaton (surely you remember who THEY were 😉 ).

  14. sammysf said:

    Very good thread folks. I also am a member of the Muwekma Tribe which Jon and Dennis are a part of, and am playing the role of Berger. I would agree that from what I have learned about Berger he is more of a hedonist than a revolutionary. It is ironic because he is described as the leader, but doesn’t that make him more of a follower?

    As to the nude scene and the inclusion (or not) of Claude, I have not seen the musical on stage but I am curious to see how both ways would play out. From the perspective of the tribe, certainly the comoraderie of being nude together would be enhanced with the participation of our hero. On the other hand, if Claude is conflicted with his life path than so might any one else who is a tribe member- and this may be conveyed by any who choose not to go full monty on any given night.

    I really like the comment about Joe Citizen being “lured” by the promise of nudity only to be served with so much more he didn’t expect. As a gay guy who understands that pretty much the only way to guarantee some friends will see the show is to mention that I’ll be naked, I look forward to really giving them a performance and theatrical experience that these people would not normally be open to. Did I just commit to being naked?

  15. bleurose said:

    Yes you did… And I will hold you to it 🙂


    PS – Just kidding!

  16. bleurose said:

    Yes you did… And I’ll hold you to it!


    PS – Just kidding 😉

  17. dbeasley said:

    Hello All,
    The other thought I have been having about Claude and his nudity (or lack there of) is that Claude isn’t necessarily naked for the same reason as the rest of the tribe. Claude’s physical nudity represents his emotional nakedness. In the song, he seems to be at the crossroads and he has stripped away all of the pretense of everything else and is simply asking “Where do I go?” The song is an admission that he doesn’t have the answers. He has been drafted and given a deadline so he can no longer avoid the question and must decide if he is going to do what his parents would call the “responsible, honorable” thing and go to war or if he is going to to do what his friends would call the “moral, peaceful” thing and dodge the draft. He has been put on the spot by the most powerful forces in his life(friends, family, society, country) and he can’t decide what he believes. He cannot answer the question that seems so easy to answer for everyone else. When does a person feel more naked than that?
    I am interested to hear what other people think.

    See Ya Later


  18. Nina Dayton said:

    When I have seen productions where Claude gets naked with the Tribe it always rings false to me. He has just sepatated himself from the Tribe by not burning his draft card, and it always feels more of a piece to me for him to remain slightly separated from them during the nude scene. I agree with Jon that this scene is the beginning of his separation from the Tribe – not a complete distancing by any means, but the first real crack in his larger conflict. This is follwed by many moments in ACT II where this theme gets clearer and clearer.

    And yes, I would agree that Berger is more of a hedonist than a revolutionary. But then having recently spent three 12 hour days discussing Hair in great depth with Jon I think you’ll find that he and I agree on lots of Hair points these days. 🙂

    This is a great thread folks! I would love to hear from some lurkers, like Leo who has directed Hair three times, and several original run Claudes who are here (Bill? Robin? Jonathon? Who else is here…?)

  19. JohnZ said:

    Wow! So many interesting comments, so little time!

    Well, here goes. I think I will start commenting from Jon’s reply to “HAiR Strands” (reply #12):
    1. Thinking about Claude distancing himself from the tribe. That’s a hard one for me because I see Claude’s relationship with the tribe as sort of a melodramatic movie. Every time he fails to burn his draft card, he is distancing himself from the tribe; it is just that he can sort of laugh it off and not confront his indecision until the end of Act I. He also distances himself with his Manchester persona, which certainly comes to a head with the movie scene. In this scene, he even distances himself from Sheila, whom he wants to bed! His desire to be invisible and his statements regarding his desire to escape from his existence on the street certainly cannot be seen as an affirmation of the tribe. Last, and most important in my opinion, is his dissing of Jeannie when she gives him the book and asks him if he will burn his draft card. Since I see Jeannie as the Earth Mother who represents the moral/ethical sense of the tribe, her rejection by Claude is tantamount to his rejection of all the tribe stands for. (Yep, I know that is a little strong, but I do perceive it that way.) Thankfully, several tribes have added a mimed telephone call (that does not appear in the script) to somewhat redeem Claude.

    2. I was amused by the comment that it was illegal for the Broadway cast to move while naked. Out here, in California, the rule for nude dancers was it was illegal for them to STOP MOVING while they were naked! They had to cover up immediately between songs!

    3. And now, the HAiR question of the millennium: “Where Do I Go With This Damn Nude Scene?” This has probably been the Numero Uno hot HAiR topic from the play’s inception. Should Claude go naked or not? Should the scene be performed with a parachute or scrim, or with open disrobing? Should the scene be very dimly lit or should it be bright? Should it be a very short, static, flash at the end of “Where Do I Go?” or should it be a long dance number through, or even before, “Where Do I Go?” Should a “nude scene” even be performed here?

    The tribe has been celebrating during or after the “Be-In” or “Suck-In” for peace. The celebration continues with a group burning of draft cards. When it becomes Claude’s turn to burn his card, he discovers that he cannot do it. The tribe’s celebratory mood comes to a crashing halt; it is almost as if Claude had died. Claude then vocalizes his dilemma in the haunting “Where Do I Go?”

    I have never been able to figure out why the tribe would decide to take their clothes off at this time. What is the message that this strip-off is designed to send to the audience? It seems natural to me for the tribe to go naked during the celebration BEFORE Claude confronts the bonfire. The celebration was a sexual/sensual “Suck-In for peace,” so nudity/nude dancing seems quite appropriate. The tribe is infused with a childish innocence which nudity also can imply.

    But, when the celebration ends and the tribe is forced to come to grips with the sobering truths of the real world, what is the motivation for them to suddenly strip naked? When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge and were forced from the Garden of Eden, they COVERED THEIR NUDITY rather than stripping down. When most people go to a funeral, are they inclined to remove their clothes?

    The situation is somewhat different for Claude. He has become a lost and tormented soul after finding that he cannot burn his draft card. He is essentially calling out for guidance; he is a child on a quest to determine which way to go. In his case, nudity is justified because it can send the dual messages of his child-like innocence and his “naked” vulnerability to the pressures of the world. So, in my opinion, nudity can only be justified for Claude, rather than the exact opposite approach that has been traditionally taken in HAiR productions!

    I find it curious that the official script, as well as the paperback version, makes no mention of any group nudity after Claude’s failure to burn his draft card. Were the authors just reticent to direct directors how to stage the scene and when to use nudity? This idea does not hold up when one considers that the authors did, in fact, include a nude scene in the official script. Furthermore, this scene with a nude Aquarius does not simply call out his nudity, it rather explicitly describes how they want it staged! In addition, when HAiR was presented in Mexico (starring the authors, themselves), I understand that “Walking In Space” was performed not only nude, but also in a quite sensual and sexual manner!

    I would love to hear other opinions from the cybertribe, especially from anyone who could explain the meaning/justification of having the tribe go naked after Claude’s crisis.

    Blessed be with peace, love, freedom, and happiness!

  20. bleurose said:

    Last night, we saw the Sacramento Nimiipuu tribe’s production of HAIR staged by Artistic Differences. It was a very good production and I will comment on that later elsewhere, but in this thread, I wanted to touch on their approach to the nude scene, which was very effective. They, too, dispensed with the scrim/parachute which has been one traditional way of staging the scene. The tribe wore caftans for the Be-In, which while not strictly “correct”, worked quite nicely. It wasn’t quite as “Krshna” as the saffron/white robes that were used in the Fullerton production, and so it kind of served the purpose of “hippie party clothing” (I wasn’t completely in love with the Be-In scene itself, but it had nothing to do with the costumes).

    At the end of the scene, the members of tribe were on their knees facing the audience en masse, and when the moment in the song came, the merely rose (starting with Berger) and simply pulled the caftans away (they were designed to just come off with a tug) and let them drop.

    It was amazingly effective. No scrim, no rustling under the parachute to remove their clothes, just a simply tug and it was done. To their credit, they also did nothing special with the lighting (no “Full Monty” attempts to blind the audience or completely obscure the scene with darkness either). The tribe was quite obviously direct and unashamed (as they should be) by the experience.

    One thing they did what was interesting (and deserves debate) was that the entire tribe participated, even those who didn’t disrobe. Typically, in the original productions and other similar productions, only the tribe members who were GOING to disrobe went under the parachute or scrim. If you weren’t disrobing, you had to leave the stage.

    There are some interesting psychological implications that Barb (my producer/partner) and I discussed driving home last night about this. On the one hand, it has always seemed more appropriate that only the nude tribe members appear at this moment. It clearly distinguishes obviously somewhat inhibited Claude (who won’t burn his draft card or disrobe) from the less inhibited tribe members (for the moment, I am ignoring all the discussion about whether this is the correct interpretation – it seems to be a COMMON interpretation and I will stick with it for the moment).

    The effect of having only those tribe members who will disrobe onstage is that the tribe members need to make their decision long (or at least minutes) before they have to disrobe. Once they are under the scrim, they must do it (or destroy the artistic integrity of the scene).

    By allowing all members to stay onstage, there may be a subtle effect that encourages disrobing because (a) the decision doesn’t have to be made so early and (b) it isn’t irrevocable. I think being on stage in a caftan while people around you are dropping theirs may influence people who are “on the fence” so to speak to go ahead and do it.

    On the other hand, Barbara, thinks it gives them (and even more tribe members) the option of not having to disrobe and still “be involved in the final scene” which under the traditional blocking, you can’t be. So if you want to participate, you have to be mentally prepared to disrobe in advance.

    I am not sure which effect is better/more important. I expect it may have a lot to do with the kind of tribe you have and whether many people are on the fence or not. Having a few people still in caftans didn’t really bother me much. I didn’t think it took away from the overall effect of the scene. In fact, it looked quite natural, having a history of being at clothing optional places, so that being nude, while being with other people who aren’t or who are only partially clothed, is not particularly startling.

    It also might permit (although last night it didn’t appear to happen) some people to partially disrobe (for instance a woman who might be inclined to remove the top of the caftan but not bare all can do that).

    Again, from an audience perspective, I think this is less an issue today than it might have been 40 years ago. On the other hand, given our inhibitions (and believe me after talking with the tribe members, there remain MANY inhibitions of various types), having an approach that might encourage more people to be brave enough to take the step could be useful.

    I am interested in your opinions!


    Jon Rosen
    Director, HAIR
    Stagelight Productions, San Jose

  21. bleurose said:

    John Z, in response to your post #19, your argument about why Claude’s nudity is justified doesn’t play well for me. I certainly respect other opinions, but I think it is stretching to accept your point about Claude’s nudity demonstrating his “innocense and vulnerability”.

    If we (the play viewers) had time to think about it, you might be right, but the audience has no time in this scene. The purpose of the scene, at least as I see it, is to demonstrate Claude’s inhibitions and the tribe’s lack thereof (for the most part 🙂 Willingness to be nude, at least in our society, is generally considered to go hand in hand with a lack of inhibitions, while desire to remain clothed demonstrates inhibitiions.

    This is the simple direct view and the one most audience members are likely to make, i.e., “Those hippies are taking their clothes off, they must be free spirits while that Claude guy is leaving his clothes on, he must be uptight”.

    Like I said, you could interpret it differengly but I think this is the one most audience members will probably understand.

    At least that’s my $0.03 (inflation y’noa!)

  22. JohnZ said:

    RE “HAiR Strands – Reply post #20:

    Great to hear that the Nimiipuu Tribe of Sacramento’s production of HAiR was such a success! I am looking forward to (doesn’t that phrase sound a lot like GWB?) reading the more complete review that you promised to send later.

    I found your comments regarding the rip-away caftans that they used for “Where Do I Go?” quite interesting. To adapt a phrase from Erica Jong, sort of a “zipless strip!” Hebe and I still have our caftans, though we don’t get to use them as often as we might like.

    Nimiipuu’s choice to use caftans, as opposed to white or saffron robes, is, IMHO, a very good decision. Even though hippies often adopted aspects of the Buddhist lifestyle, the saffron robes were pretty much limited to the followers of organizations/philosophies like Nichiren Shoshu.

    You mentioned that they neither “obscure(d) the scene with darkness” nor used “’Full Monty’ attempts to blind the audience… “ Not having seen “The Full Monty,” I do not know whether you meant the use of bright lights directed into the face of the audience to prevent them from seeing what was on stage (as was used in the Glendale Community College HAiR production), or just the raising of the lights on the actors to very brilliant to build tension (as is called out in the staging of “Equus”)?

    I was surprised when you said: “One thing they did what was interesting (sic) (and deserves debate) was that the entire tribe participated, even those who didn’t disrobe. Typically, in the original productions and other similar productions, only the tribe members who were GOING to disrobe went under the parachute or scrim. If you weren’t disrobing, you had to leave the stage.” Frankly, I don’t clearly remember the first productions that I saw (Aquarius and San Francisco), but, in all of the productions that I recall, most, if not all, of the tribe remained part of the scene whether or not they disrobed. The exemplary Candlefish production, as first directed by Mary Schafer (1998) and then James Rado, himself (1999), allowed all tribe members to fully participate in the scene whether clothed, partly bare, or buck naked. (As a slightly related side note, I found it curious that fully nude participation in the scene seemed to be far more prevalent among the “white” tribe members than among the “black” and “oriental” ones.)

    When a parachute is used to obscure the stripping of the tribe members, having tribe members who are not going to disrobe also go under it would further exacerbate the many logistical problems associated with stripping while under the cloth. I believe that option of having the non-stripping tribe members exit the stage, and thus leave nothing else for the audience to concentrate on other than the strangely undulating parachute, would really damage the scene.

    Finally, I agree that full tribe participation in the nudity, and the unitary tribal identity that such full participation so clearly indicates, is an admirable goal. While I strongly endorse any desensitization exercises that helps tribe members overcome their apprehensions of going naked, I feel we must always be on guard that these techniques do not cross the, admittedly hazy, line into coercion.

    RE “HAiR Strands” – Reply post #21:

    I certainly agree with Jon R’s assertion that: “Willingness to be nude, at least in our society, is generally considered to go hand in hand with a lack of inhibitions, while desire to remain clothed demonstrates inhibitions.” Reduced to the radical absurd, the act of going naked certainly tends to show that one does not have an “inhibition” about going naked. But, are we justified in extending this lack of inhibitions about going nude to necessarily encompass the lack of other inhibitions, such as to buck the “establishment” and our elders by opposing their making war? I find interesting the reports that a “swinging” sexual lifestyle seems to be more prevalent among the nominally pro-war “red state” Republicans than among the ostensibly more anti-war “blue state” Democrats!

    I somewhat agree when Jon says that “…the simple direct view and the one most audience members are likely to make, i.e., ‘Those hippies are taking their clothes off, they must be free spirits while that Claude guy is leaving his clothes on, he must be uptight’.”

    But, do we WANT the audience to be thinking these thoughts while Claude is anguishing over his indecision and search for guidance that is so powerfully realized in “Where Do I Go?” Should not the audience, instead, “be at one with” Claude? Shouldn’t they feel Claude’s torment as their own? Should they not ask the same question of themselves: Whether to go along with the establishment-endorsed current into war, or, rather, reject the establishment society and rough it as an outsider?

    I think that HAiR productions that effectively destroy the “fourth wall” and successfully create such empathy between Claude and the audience at this critical juncture, are rare, but oh so valuable, gems. Anything that distracts the audience into pigeonholing Claude as “inhibited” or “uninhibited” (or to measure him by any other metric) can only serve to third-person the audience into the status of an “observer” rather than a “participant.”

    Ergo, I ask again, WHY take such a risk at this critical juncture? WHAT MESSAGE does nudity at this point in the play send, and DO WE REALLY WANT TO SEND IT?

    Blessed be with peace, love, freedom, and happiness!

  23. bleurose said:

    More comments…

    In Full Monty (as in the Fullerton College production or HAIR we both saw), they use lights directed OUT from the stage to try to blind the audience so that they can’t focus on the “nude bits” the actors are displaying. In some productions, they even use body suits and rely on the lighting to “fool” the audience into thinking they saw naked men (horrors! 😉 This is NOTHING like the effect that is hopefully achieved in Equus.

    And as I said, it was great that the Sac show didn’t do that. I thought it was awful in the Fullerton production and quite insulting – “here are the naked people we promised you – oh, but we’d better blind you so you can’t see them because after all, its really awful for you to actually have to look at them.”

    By the way, we took our 14-yr old daughter to see the Sacramento production. To the best of our knowledge 🙂 this was her first glimpse of live naked men except possibly unintentionally around the house (presumably she has seen women before in her locker room at high school). She doesn’t seem terribly “scarred” by the experience (actually she seemed quite blase about the whole thing, and she had a couple of catty comments to make about the endowments of the male tribe “members”, so to speak, which were obviously intended to push both Barb’s and my buttons – a typical 14-year old!)

    I am glad to hear that other productions have allowed people to participate clothed or unclothed in the finale of Act I. As you point out, there were probably good reasons for the way it was done in 1967, but I am not sure those reasons are necessarily valid today (legal, logistic, etc.) I don’t want to coerce anyone at all, but I certainly want to encourage them and if providing a group support situation does that, I am all for it.

    Your comments about inhibitions:

    I agree that going naked in and of itself, in a pure philosophical sense, has little to do with a lack of inhibitions about other important things you mention (protesting, fighting the establishment, etc.) However we are talking metaphors here. I have always taken the nudity at that moment to be a metaphor for the lack of inhibition that the tribe feels (and by contrast an indication of the inhibition that Claude feels). As a director, I am trying in about 10 seconds to communicate at a very base level a concept to an audience.

    What you seem to be arguing for is a completely different approach and interpretation than taken by one of the “traditional” Hair productions, by which I mean one of the productions based on the original work of Tom O’Horgan. I say that purely because of the fact that we know what O’Horgan staged and he always had Claude clothed (we have documented that from information at the Archives and by talking to several people who played Claude in first-run productions).

    There is also the issue of potential misunderstanding. Sure, REALLY astute members of the audience may get it and bond with Claude and understand his pain because of his nudity and vulnerability. However, there is just as much likelihood (more, I believe) that it will confuse the audience who DOESN’T get it, and comes away wondering, “hmmm, that guy Claude, he was a crazy mixed-up dude, first he takes off his clothes, but in the end, he is just a typical sheep, he goes and gets himself killed in Vietnam – I don’t get him at all!”

    So, as always there is a thin line that a director has to draw, between doing things to help the audience understand the message, and hoping that the figure it out themselves from what you present.

    Audiences are BOTH observers and participants in live theater, and HAIR certainly extends their sense of participation. However, I don’t think that necessitates abdicating all responsibilty (or opportunity) to provide enough context that the audience understands. Audiences come to the theater to be entertained, and enlightened, but if you are completely ambiguous or confusing, you can lose them too.

    So while you propose that having Claude clothed third-person’s the audience, I think that having Claude nude may confuse them. How do we solve that dilemma?


  24. Nina Dayton said:

    Just a couple of quick points –

    First of all, the original nude scene was never in the script, and the paperback book version of that (which John mentioned in an above comment) is not a representation of any script of Hair that was ever performed anywhere. It is a combination of the off-Broadway script, the Broadway script, and several bits that were never performed anywhere. It was put together for the purpose of the pocketbooks release, and as such cannot be used as an historical representation of Hair or it’s authors thoughts – more a book editors idea of Hair. It is unfortunate that this was the only script of Hair ever offerred to the public as it was a misrepresentation – those who hadn’t seen Hair got a skewed idea of it, and those who had (like the 14 year old I was when I bought it) were totally confused by how different it was from what we had experienced!

    The original off Broadway script mentiones no nude scene, and the first Broadway script was not collated until 1969 (over a year after opening) at the insistence of Actor’s Equity, which wanted to be able to track payment to the performers by knowing exactly what lines everyone was saying, and being sure that they were paid for each “bit” they did. So the fact that there is a nude Aquarian in the script during Oh Great God Of Power does not indicate any previous thoughts on nude scenes in the script. (As an aside the nude Aquarian was so subtle that I had seen the show many, many times before I was even aware that there was a nude person on stage at that point. Later first run productions made it more obvious, but the Broadway one was very subtle).

    All research points to Jerry and Jim having wanted a nude scene in the Off-Broadway production, but Gerald Freeman and The Public Theater nixed it. Michael Butler supported Tom O’Horgan’s suggestion that they add it back in, and so it was added at the end of the first act. We can never know who came up with that placement originally, but thought seems to support that Tom placed it there, and staged it as we know it. Jerry and Jim certainlky agreed with it at the time as well, but later tried to add further nudity to the show, both in the LA version, and later when they returned to the NY production. This caused some difficulties as there were laws governing nudity on stage at the time that some of their unscripted nudity violated.

    One could take this to mean that they wanted more or different nudity in the show, however it seems significant to me that in all the TAMS scripts since Hair’s closing in 1972 there is no “nude scene” written in, and that that is left to the director’s choice despite both Jim and Jerry having rewritten enough other stuff in the script over the years, to make it clear that they were comfortable making that script exactly as they wanted it. (In Barbara Lee Horn’s book she quotes Tom O’Horgan as calling the first post closing TAMS script the “author’s revenge” as it puts back everything he cut during rehearsals.)

    The original production did not make the non participants leave the stage, by the way. They just didn’t stand up from under the scrim when everyone nude did, and stayed underneath. They were all there to do the staging during the second verses, and then ducked under while the others changed. There were always several people who went off stage to sing into the mikes in the wings at the beginning of the song, and these people never did the nude scene. There were, especially in the early days, a few women who only uncovered their breasts and they always held the scrim at waist level so that it wasn’t as Jon describes Sacremento – some people dressed and some people nude (a point I tend to agree with you on Jon). Everyone standing up was nude, or if only from the waist up then only showing themselves from the waist up. After a while most of the half way people went all the way, so this became rarer as the show ran. I don’t recall it happening much at all after about 1970.


  25. dbeasley said:

    Hello All,
    Just some thoughts…
    Jon said, “There is also the issue of potential misunderstanding. Sure, REALLY astute members of the audience may get it and bond with Claude and understand his pain because of his nudity and vulnerability. However, there is just as much likelihood (more, I believe) that it will confuse the audience who DOESN’T get it, and comes away wondering, “hmmm, that guy Claude, he was a crazy mixed-up dude, first he takes off his clothes, but in the end, he is just a typical sheep, he goes and gets himself killed in Vietnam – I don’t get him at all!””
    I don’t think you have to worry about people being confused by Claude’s inconsistency. It is because of his inconsistency that we relate to him. He is obviously torn between the two sides, and the audience will relate because it knows what it is like to be indecisive. Hamlet is also inconsistent between his words and his actions, but we have no trouble understanding him.
    I also think you have to be very careful when trying to evaluate the intelligence level of the audience. You can’t treat the audience as if they are incapable of understanding or, for lack of a better word, “stupid.” Sometimes it is difficult, but I try to remind myself that people have been understanding theatre for thousands of years and I think it is an act of huberis to assume that something I might present is too complicated for them. Also, I would rather play to the people who will “get it” as opposed to dumbing it down because I think there are people that won’t get it. Generally, I find that people “get it” more often than you would think.
    In regard to the nudity, I have always thought it was more distracting when Claude didn’t get naked. The first thought in my head is that the actor is not comfortable with nudity and then I am thinking about the actor and not the show. I won’t go into that more because I have talked about my thoughts on Claude earlier.
    I have seen productions where only some of the cast was nude and I wasn’t really distracted by that at all. It is a nice contrast for those who do take off their clothes because you know they really wanted to (even though I think it is more powerful when the entire cast is nude).
    What I think is great about this conversation is that there are several valid opinions. It also shows how people relate to the material differently. I also think it is interesting that, especially with this show, people are so interested in staying so true to the original Broadway production.
    Anyway, just some thoughts.


  26. Nina Dayton said:

    One other point re: whether Claude should participate in the nude scene –

    One of the strongest points against Claude joining in the nude scene, IMHO, has always been that Jim Rado, who wrote the role of Claude and therefore could have written it be anything he wanted it to be, chose not to have Claude ever be nude in that scene. I think the fact that Claude is clothed, amidst nude people, makes a point that the authors intended. And as it was originally staged with Berger nude right next to Claude clothed it marks the differences between the characters in a very powerful and effecting way.
    Just my 2 cents,

  27. sammysf said:

    Wow Berger nude next to Claude now there is a powerful image! Jon, don’t interpret that as a wish 😉

  28. JohnZ said:

    Since this thread has gotten so long, and is buried behind the current page, I have posted my reply comments under the heading of “HAiR Strands 2.” They are located at:

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