Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Whatever Wednesdays: Thoughts for the Start of HAIR

Last night I had my first rehearsal for HAIR at Serenbe Playhouse. Now, a meditation on nostalgia, hypocrisy, and hope.


My mother was a hippie who left college for six months to live on a commune in California with her boyfriend. That makes her the coolest mom ever. When I was little, I would ask her to regale me with stories of her wild youth, but she could never remember much. Or, the things she did remember seemed so unremarkable that she told them with great nonchalance. "Oh, I don't know - we lived in tents and grew our own food." I lived in the suburbs; it sounded magical. 


When I was a teenager, I believed that I belonged to an era decades gone; I would go to sleep wishing that I would wake-up in 1968 - or at least that the present world would transform.

I would watch the news and get mad. Ann Coulter would spew her hate all over the airwaves and I would seethe. I knew other people were upset - I could hear it from the people at my church, some friends, and a teacher or two - but no one was doing anything about it. Not even me. I was a middle-class girl doing her homework on her bed while listening to Room For Squares.


My freshman year of college, I heard there was going to be an Iraq War protest in front of the student center. I was thrilled - finally, I was among like-minded peers! My 10 AM class ended and I ran to the quad. I raced up the steps and stopped cold on the grass. Before me were five people holding sloppy posterboard signs. Two were sitting down; they all looked bored. No one even glanced their way. I silently walked into the student center and bought a pizza pretzel.

How embarrassing, to stage a protest in an echo chamber. 


I seriously considered going back to New York when Occupy Wall Street started. For the first time in my life, I saw a group of people I agreed with who were angry enough to beat their chests. I wanted so badly to abandon my comfortable life and spend my days and nights on the streets - to get arrested and yell until I was hoarse. But I was doing a show at the Alliance; I couldn't walk away from that. I felt like a fraud for choosing career over cause. Which dream is greater: the one where I'm an actress, or the one where I'm a force for good in the world? 


Historians argue about the effectiveness of protests. Some will tell you that all the hippies did was piss people off - that they undermined the causes they supported by scaring people. Considering the backlash against both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, I'll concede that's a good point. Most people don't go for extremes. 

I do. 

I am easily swayed by the romance of 60s counterculture. I want to believe in the magic of people standing-up and demanding change - I want to believe that our leaders will listen when we cry for justice and equality.


I no longer want to live in the past. All I want is to shape the future. Sounds simple enough.

HAIR at The Little Theatre on the Square (2010)

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