Pages from Michael Butler's Journal


For some time, it has been my plan to have HAIR do a college tour in company with a "Symposium on the '60s." My experiences at several colleges and universities lately have left no doubt in my mind that students have a great curiosity about the hippie movement. They have not been receiving the straight story from anyone. They are aware of this, and want to hear the positive side of the "flower power" movement.

I investigated the college productions of HAIR -- of which there are an astonishing number -- and zeroed in on two in particular: Cal State University at Fullerton and a "student" production at Northwestern. I decided to bring in Cal State's production. They had mounted a major effort. Northwestern's production was fascinating, particularly in its direction, but it wasn't ready for a commercial move yet.

Pacific Musical Theatre is the commercial company associated with Cal State. They will bring the entire company to Chicago -- that includes over sixty tribe members. Dan Kern will direct and Lara Teeter is the choreography. We will use The New Antheaneum Theatre at Southport and Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. The New Athenaeum is an intimate opera house built at the turn of the century. It is an acoustic gem which seats 900 people, with super sightlines in every seat. A classic orchestra pit in front of the stage will add to the audience's musical enjoyment. The theatre is even installing a new air conditioning system for our visit. HAIR will give a concert for our hosts -- St. Alphonsus Church, who owns the property -- on Sunday, July 28. Previews begin on July 30. HAIR opens August 2nd and closes September 1st. The kids have to go back to school!

HAIR opened in 1968, the same year of the last Democratic National Convention held in Chicago. They shared that seminal year of a tumultuous decade. HAIR, unlike the provoked outrages of the "yippie" movement, was a beacon of freedom and peace. HAIR was and still is one generation's voice speaking to another. And it has that wonderful music!

As a bridge for tolerance and understanding, the '68 HAIR was attacked by both the radical left and the radical right. As an entertaining and humorous poke at so many rigid positions of the day held by both left and right, it broke a lot of tabus, no matter who was watching it.

HAIR was and still is being seen all over the world. It's a classic which has never lost its relevance to audiences. HAIR presents the best of the flower-power philosophy -- it proclaims that we CAN have peace and love in this world. The problems confronted by the hippies still exist. For a good example read Jon Katz's article,Kids Cyber Rights", in the July issue of Wired.

I believe that the pursuit of freedom is a constant struggle. I also believe that government has the sole responsibility for the happiness of the governed. I believe that under the quise of security and authority, and through regulation, repression, and taxation, our government is not making life better for any of us. We all have the same problems. I know that this sounds ironic, coming from one who is sheltered from want. Yet "Those who seek after both freedom and security shall have neither."

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