“Give Peace A Chance” is the iconic song written by the iconic John Lennon of the iconic band, THE BEATLES.
It was born in the 1960s when the world turned around into a blast of fire on its axis.
The Vietnam War raged and suddenly the entire world was driven into violence.
In the United States which was the protagonist of the Vietnam war against the antagonist North Vietnam, complete antagonism gripped the country. And since the United States is somehow always the “world leader” the whole world caught its plague.
But it was mostly the youth of the US that got sucked into the bloody muddle.
So rose the the HIPPIES.
A group of young people, male and female, wanting to get out of the troubled mesh of society they were living in.
It was a silent protest.
They grew their hair and wore bell bottomed pants tattered with scraps of cloth. They wanted to be of the earth, dirty if one wants to term it so.
They formed into tribes and there was a Tribe Leader heading the queer camp.
They had free love: making love with anybody or everybody in the camp, sang songs of protest, ate and drank what they could.
They were the lost children of that era.
And they wanted to remain lost.
This Tribe in HAIR was led by Berger (George Schulze). Ha! No boundaries that can’t be crossed. No rainbows that can’t be climbed.
Into the tribe enters Claude (Markki Stroem/Topper Fabregas). He is a softer version of all those in the tribe but he also has a heart and is filled with protest.
Oh, the song and dance and music are all percussive Hippie style.
But that’s not what I’m after.
HAIR is not just Hippie. It is a total Metaphor of Life on Earth. And the Realities we choose not to see. Not to hear. Not to touch.
Because we don’t want our hands bloodied.
The USA soldiers were being massacred in the Vietnam war. But nothing in the world news spoke about that. I remember that at that time when I was just a little girl, I would pick up a newspaper and see a USA soldier blasting a Vietcong. Bad guys. That’s what you get for fighting the good guys. The Americans.
The hippie tribe in HAIR tried to walk on wire to make sense of everything. So they said if they did Transcendental Meditation, they would go off to the blue sky and float. Or if they went and chanted Hare Krishna, they would invoke Krishna (God in Hinduism) and they would be in a trance in total Peace (Hare).
But the US army was desperate. Counted as bulls in a brutal bullfight, their soldiers (not men) died by droves. They had to find replacements. Not men. Just replacements.
So they drafted all the US males of legal age into the USA army.
The men tore their draft cards in public so the press would see them and show the government they weren’t going to be hired to kill nor to be killed in a war that seemed to see no end.
Only Elvis Presley, the rock star then didn’t tear his draft card. Headlines in the newspapers the next day said ELVIS JOINS THE ARMY.
Of course, he didn’t get sent to Vietnam. Who was going to sing and shift hips to “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog?” Save Las Vegas.
Claude was given a draft card together with Berger and the other members of their tribe. They threw their draft cards into a garbage tin of fire. Laughing in victory! The it was Claude’s turn. He put his draft card into the fire.
Then he took it out. Unburned.
He raises it up to heaven and, believing in God, he asks:
“What do I do?”
It brought me into the Gethsamane scene of the rock musical Jesus Christ SUPERSTAR. The Garden of Gethsamane is where we know Jesus had His Agony in the Garden.
In the rock musical, Jesus desperately asks His Father, “Do I have to go through all this pain? I preached. Isn’t that enough?”
Even in the Bible we are told that Jesus sweated blood.
He knew how the crown of thorns would embed it self on his head, tearing his forehead skin. How the scourging at the pillar would tear off bits of his skin because there were metal pieces on the rope. Then He would have to carry a cross (heavier than a car in modern parlance) on a torn patch of skin on his shoulder.
Then the final ultimatum. Nails that would embed themselves on the palms of his hand, breaking his hand bones and pounded until the nail’s head gripped His hand immobile.
He is God. But Jesus was in a Man’s body. And he would feel all this pain without general anesthesia.
And that what exactly what was going to happen to Claude in the Vietnam War.
Act II opens with the shadow of a helicopter above booming with rifle shots on the Hippie Camp empty of people because that’s the way it is when US helicopters bombard Vietnam. No one is left standing.
Some tribe members enter, crawling, looking for dead bodies.
Then a group of Native Americans (Indians) enter, chanting their language.
Out come the white pilgrims and shoot them. Then Abraham Lincoln comes out and starts his famous Gettysburg Address (about blacks and whites being equal in the new Paradise called the USA) and he is interrupted by a gunshot. Then in come women, head bowed in hajibs (the Muslim veils for women) and kneel in a circle, their heads bowed. Out come a group of nuns in their nunnery habits, carrying rosaries. They encircle themselves around the Muslim women. Then they hold their rosaries and strangle the Muslim women with them.
Shakespeare’s voice is then heard as he speaks his sublime poem:
“What a Piece of Work is Man.”
Can we glean that what happened before is exactly what is happening now?
A replica. A duplicate. A fake diamond.
Listen to what Aris, the God of Death tells Wonder Woman:
“Leave those men alone. It is their nature to kill each other.”
But Wonder Woman looks at him and says, as only a Woman can say:
“But I found Love.”
HAIR is a Repertory Philippines Production at
ONSTAGE Greenbelt 1
Running until December , 20