, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 30, 2012

A return to Aquarius

Newburyport High channels spirit and strife of '60s with `Hair'


“We don’t just have rehearsal and do a play,” Williams said.

For instance, in order to more fully grasp some of the issues that drove a generation to cast aside the traditions of their conservative parents and recreate themselves so dramatically, the Newburyport students immersed themselves in “Hair” culture.

They traveled to the Woodstock Museum in Saugerties, N.Y., and took in the collection of 1960s music and memorabilia on permanent display there. They participated in a workshop on "Hair" with a musical theater professor. And they spent two days in retreat, absorbing the experience of communal living by working in the retreat center’s kitchen and participating in yoga sessions and onsite spiritual pursuits.

Back at home, Williams said the cast tackled interdisciplinary projects that involved seeking guidance from the high school’s sociology and psychology students on the complex, emotional issues facing their characters. They interviewed six Vietnam War veterans for a documentary shown to the entire school on Veterans Day. Williams said the veterans were surprisingly candid about their war experiences, which made for emotional viewing.

“We had people say it was the best assembly they’d ever gone to,” Williams said.

In addition, the cast viewed Tom Brokaw’s "1968," a two-hour documentary centered on the lives of people who lived through the turbulent, chaotic period.

And they worked extensively with the Improbable Players, a troupe of recovering addicts out of Boston, on the best ways to embody characters that at various times throughout the play are sampling a vast assortment of psychedelic drugs.

The troupe taught the young performers to focus on the energy of an impaired person rather than looking for stereotypical direction on what someone might look like if they were "high.“

“We wanted to explore the physical and emotional presence of someone who is under the influence of drugs in a sensitive way,” Zaleski said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
Johnson: Six Arrests, No Tear Gas in Ferguson Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream Raw: Woman Escorted From Ferguson Protests California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Holder Hopes to Bring Calm to Ferguson Today in History August 21 Holder Pledges Top Investigators for Ferguson US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Seth Meyers Rolls Out Emmy Red Carpet Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List
Special Features