Masaryk university brno faculty of education

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Department of English Language and Literature

The Hair Musical and American Society: Mutual Inspiration

Bachelor Thesis

Brno 2011


Dr. Rita Chalmers Collins


Daniela Frimlová


I hereby declare that I worked on my bachelor thesis on my own and that I used only the sources mentioned in the bibliography section.

Brno, 2011


Daniela Frimlová


I would like to express my thanks to Dr. Rita Chalmers Collins for her great patience, kind help and valuable advice that she provided me with, without it the thesis could not come into being.


The bachelor thesis is focused on evolution of the musical “Hair”. It follows its place among other musicals on Broadway and explores general historical background of its origin. The thesis not only deals with basic historical facts, it tries to highlight the social aspects of American life and consequently examine its portrayal in the musical. It also tries to prove that the inspiration by social mood and events was the main reason for the musical’s creation. Subsequently it shows whether the musical influenced American life in turn, since the link to American society was strong. This is demonstrated by reactions of public audience and professional critics and by further development on the musical field.


Musical, the Hippies, American society, the sixties, Broadway, antiwar movement

Table of Content

Declaration 2

Acknowledgements 3

Annotation 4

Keywords 4

Table of Content 5

Introduction 5

1.Musical origin 7

1.1Definition of musical 7

1.1.2 Characteristic features 7

1.2 Broadway musical theatre tradition 8

1.2.1 Broadway 8

1.2.2 Beginnings 9

1.2.3 The twenties 10

1.2.4 Film and radio 10

1.2.5 Television 10

1.2.6 The sixties 11

Summarizing musical characteristics and development 12

1.3 American Society in 1960’s 12

1.3.1 Response to the 1950’s 13

1.3.2 The sixties’ society characteristics 13

1.3.3 Historical facts of the sixties 14

J. F. Kennedy 14

L. B. Johnson and Vietnam War 14

R. M. Nixon 15

1.3.4 Social movements of the sixties 15

New Left 16

Counterculture 16

Minorities’ interests 17

1.4 Authors‘ Inspirations, Reasons and Intentions 17

1.4.1 Authors‘ biography 18

1.4.2 Composer, producer and director 19

Summarizing historical events of the sixties and authors‘ intentions 21

2. Musical Content 21

2.1 Synopsis and characters 21

2.1.1 Characters 22

2.1.2 Synopsis 23

2.2 Social themes in Hair 25

2.2.1 Pacifism 25

2.2.2 Racism 26

2.2.3 Sexual revolution and generation gap 26

2.2.4 Nudity and sexual freedom 27

2.2.5 Drug use 27

2.2.6 Religion 28

2.2.7 Tribe and anti-consumerism 29

2.3 Dramatization 30

Summarizing musical content 31

3.Reaction of American society 31

3.1 Presentation of musical 32

3.2 Critical reception 33

3.2.1 Positive reviews 33

3.2.2 Negative reviews 33

3.3 Reception of publi c audience 34

3.3.1 New York 34

3.3.2 Touring companies 35

3.3.3 Young audience 35

3.3.4 Negative reception 36

3.4 Hair’s influence 36

3.4.1 Musicals 37

3.4.2 Social change 38

3.4.3 Hair revivals 38

Conclusion 40

Bibliography 41


The musical Hair has always been one of my most favourites. The choreography, music and lyrics have always been breathtaking to me. As a European and coming from post-communist country I was also interested in the phenomenon of the 1960’s, in American hippie movement, which I could only hear about. That is why I have chosen to handle this part of American history in my bachelor thesis.

Its aim is to confirm or disprove the hypothesis which in its first half argues that Hair’s creation was influenced and even provoked by the social situation in U.S. of the sixties. Second half of the hypothesis claims that presentation of the musical had impact on the society in turn and led to some change in it.

The first chapter of thesis starts with definition of musicals and their development to prove that there is a connection between the musical and the tradition of society describing it. It then investigates the social and historical events of the U.S. in the sixties to confirm that these were artistically inspiring. Following part handles authors’ inspirations and intentions to see whether they were motivated to portray American society at all. The second chapter explores which themes were included in the musical and how and their presentation to audience. The last chapter looks at what the reaction of experts and public audience were and by their comparison identificates what influence Hair had or did not have on American society.

Thesis will use systematic analysis of primary and secondary resources combined with descriptive method. Comparative method applied to primary resources is crucial as well.

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