Studio 301 will put on a production Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical from April 28 to May 2, and from May 5 to 9. Tickets are $12 for students, but the preview show on April 28 will be $11. All shows begin at 8 p.m., except for Sunday shows, which begin at 7 p.m.
A student-run group, Studio 301 puts on full-length theater productions on a voluntary basis. Club members vote on each show and are in charge of every element of production, which include directing, stage managing and acting. Their previous shows include Fuddy Meers, put on during winter quarter and Macbeth, put on during fall quarter.
Chronicling the Bohemian life of peaceful protestors in New York City, Hair addresses numerous intersecting issues of the late 1960’s that run the gamut from segregation & racism, to sexuality, to the Vietnam War.
“I think the musical can attract audience members of all ages because it contains subject matter that is mature and whimsical at the same time,” said Ulysses Morazan, treasurer for Studio 301 and junior clinical nutrition major. “You’ve got sex and drugs present in the play alongside cultural references, but then you also have these upbeat songs that just make it all the more light and inclusive to younger generations.”
Studio 301 member and English, African-American studies and film studies triple major Alison Stevenson shared similar sentiments.
“It doesn’t fit that mold of a typical musical,” she said. “It’s got strong political activist themes, which align perfectly with recent protests that have been going on around campus. At the same time, though, it is a lot of fun and full of great music.”
Director and UC Davis alumna Stephanie Hankinson said the cast is comprised of an ethnically diverse group that for good reason, call themselves a tribe instead of a cast.
“There’s a sense of camaraderie built into the show that the term ‘tribe’ just completely encompasses,” Hankinson said.
Having had numerous opportunities to bond with one another via mini trips and camping excursions, the group members grew close and saw each other through many unforeseen acting challenges. Many of them were forced to push themselves and take on subversive acts such as appearing nude in order to make Hair a strong, authentic production.
“A great deal of the 14 cast members that were in the nudity scene had never experienced anything like that onstage before,” Hankinson said. “It was a challenge and an experience in itself.”
Studio 301 put on all of their previous shows in outdoor venues due to the considerable cost of theater space in Davis. Held at the scenic arboretum, Hair will be no exception to this trend.
“We figured nothing could be better than doing Hair at the arboretum,” Hankinson said. “The open air setting isn’t the only thing that makes the play organic though; the development of the show itself is very organic, as so much of the show depends on how people interact and less on mechanics and precision. Much of the material was in fact improvised. My role was to create a space where these individuals from different backgrounds and experience levels could all come together as actors.”
Hankinson said that Hair’s production comes at an opportune time, given that there is a Broadway version of the show currently running. Hair will also be the first rock musical done in Davis in many years, and the story itself holds contemporary relevance given the recent resurgence in modern-day feelings of unrest that the generation is experiencing.
“Not only does Hair have such a history, embodying the discontent of the nation at the time, but it parallels the situation we’re in today, where we’ve returned to a time marked by the discontent of the generation,” Hankinson said. “We’re at war, and there are economic strikes, as demonstrated by the recent protests. The message Hair tries to bring, however, is that at the end of the day we come together in moments of turmoil.”
Rehearsal for Hair took place almost every day of the week for up to five hours at a time, often during poor weather conditions that relegated the tribe to rehearse in parking structures.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work and hours to put this production together but in the end something truly magical has evolved,” Morazan said.
Coincidentally, the play’s opening weekend also marks the 42nd anniversary of its original showing on Broadway.
“It’ll take place at a great picnic setting for people to come and enjoy,” Morazan said. “Be sure to bring blankets and things to sit on!”
ELENI STEPHANIDES can be reached at email@example.com.