The following materials are from my dramaturgy of Hair, directed by Tom Ossowski in the Fallon Theatre at Florida State University in 2009.
As a dramaturg, I prioritize images and experiences for the cast and production team. In the case of Hair, that involved two important tasks:
- Finding a way to simulate drug-induced hallucinations for cast members expected to recreate those experiences on stage.
- Educating the cast on the safe use of (prop) weapons for scenes that involved recreations of military actions.
For the first task, I made use of the Ganzfeld Effect, which suggests that the use of perceptual deprivation–simulated with ping-pong balls (halved and placed over their eyes), a lamp, and a uniform static sound–to induce a hallucinatory state.
For the second, I invited Captain Dion Haverstraw, Operations Officer with FSU’s Army ROTC unit, to visit the cast in rehearsal. In addition to
demonstrating how soldiers would carry, fire, hand off, and move with (prop) assault rifles during the Vietnam War, he demonstrated proper salutes, at-ease stance, the process of folding the American flag at a military funeral, and the physical process for leaping out of helicopters when heading into combat, which manifested in the show when the actors leapt off a 6 foot platform.
As dramaturg, I also did a cast presentation/discussion, created a glossary for the play, and presented as a part of the School of Theatre’s outreach for its Patrons’ Association. My program notes, “I Believe in Love”: Staging Counter-Culture,” appeared in the program.
The School of Theatre also arranged a special symposium around this production.
My presentation, “‘Let the Sun Shine In”: Hair in American Musical Theatre History,” contextualized Hair within the history of the American musical and rock musicals, the difference between integrated/book and concept musicals, an delved into the many vital issues raised by the production–war, the peace movement, the nation, the body, and much more.