Gerome Ragni, James Rado, and Galt MacDermot bios
Gerome Ragni and James Rado
Book and Lyrics
Gerome Ragni, who was one of the founders of the Open Theatre, and a winner of a Barter Theatre Award for acting, has appeared on Broadway in "Hamlet", and in many off-Broadway productions. He originated the role of Berger in the Public Theatre production of "Hair". Co-author James Rado, an actor too, has been seen on Broadway in "Lion In Winter" and "Luther". The idea of collaborating as authors came to the two young men when they were both playing off-Broadway in "The Knack". Why Hair?
We both took off together jiving our space out once more. I shall hang in silver to blow and zap the minds of the straights. We know where the dead bodies are. The war was over several hours ago, and the future is speeding on...aluminum people. There's Myriads of galaxies inhabited by intelligent beings. The war is gone...now we're on the other side of the planet...visions from another lifetime...the search for extra-terrestrial life...many tiny jeweled violet flowers...giant green waves dancing...the paper colored sun...that world at fun...sealed in darkness waiting to be born...a new kind of light has rayed through...a new openness. So sing the children on the avenue. Stop making deals, spreading rumors. Stop making bombs, stop killing. Live baby Live. We are acrobats of God; run naked in the streets, sandbags full of poems. The poet writes the words in dust that changes skylines. Mind blown words of nuclear bombs; electric wine. There is chewing gum stuck on the bottom of America. The poet pleases on the grass.
Philharmonic Hall, gathering dust from the ages. A stick of incense, a dirty white gown, a pair of cheap beads and barefeet, struggling to become a sage. Lady fingers, sunjuice, silver paper, bed feather breeze; or grey-blue uniforms. Hell no we won't go. Yippies pound dirt. I straighten my hair on the ironing board. Jack and the Beanstalk lived on a bowl of hair a day. Abraham offered his son Hair to the sacrifice. Benjamin Franklin flew his kite in his hair; Rip Van Winkle slept in his. You have some, spaghetti looks a lot like it. George Washington has it on the dollar bill, the Statue of Liberty, Democracy's Daughter, standing in the water, waves it; Woolworth's sells it.
We had the life of the spirit crushed out of us by an unnatural and inhuman way of life. I'm going to get it back. We met last night in a circle of chairs. List in a land where the language is love. Jesus split the bible and went back to the sky. Texas is printed on the label of my shirt. Electronic trajectory, lift off! Hair is holy its curls belong to God.
We pause eight seconds for station identification.1....2....3....4....5....6....7....8....Close
your eyes and you can go anywhere. Sheep Meadow Sunday...We dressed
in our Berthold Brecht drama clothes. Magical...mystical...Harpweedsun.
Born in Montreal, and educated at Capetown (South Africa) University, Mr. MacDermot has been a church organist, dance band musician, and composer of "African Waltz" - a smash-hit in London, and winner of a Grammy Award in the USA. Hair is his first musical. mr. MacDermot was asked to explain his entanglement in Hair, and with characteristic modesty, he replied in the third person.
Take a hippie, wash, shave and trim him. Dress him in a tweed suit and put him on a restless camel facing south on the northern edge of the Sahara, and you will eventually have a hot property.
By the same token (totem pole), if you take the Arab goatherd that you see there, bring him slowly back to New York and put him on Houston St., will you have a hippie? Only time can tell. But this is what happened to MacDermot. He was found in the wilderness herding goats, eating figs and flauting his open airs. He was brought to New York and placed at a table on which lay a book called "Hair" with instructions to set it to music.
Like any well brought up goatherd he quickly sorted the wheat from the chaff and constructed a typical tribal love-rock occasion in which the hands of all the great masters (Zerton, Flabula, Caribee) could be seen but where MacDermot's individuality still was able to vibrate at its own characteristic 64321 per NTMs.
It's not important whether MacDermot understood what he was doing. He claims that his method is to set to music the mentality of the poet and let the literal meaning of the words take care of itself.
Another theory is that there was a mix up in the Sahara and the hot hippie was mistaken for the goatherd.
Whatever the ultimate truth is (some even say Hair is
not a tribal love-rock musical but actually a Broadway musical disguised
as an opera) the fact is that Hair, or crystallized Ragni-Rado, whichever
you prefer, exists with all its meaning - literal, rarified, subjunctive,
absolutional - intact. Or possibly not, only time can tell.
Copyright Natoma productions.