This article first appeared in the September issue of 519 Magazine which is available online or at more than 300 locations throughout Southwestern Ontario.

Much like it’s original Broadway production 50 years ago, the infamous nude scene in the rock musical Hair, which is being staged by Arts Collective Theatre (ACT) from September 6 to 16, will give its actors the freedom and choice to bare it all should they feel comfortable to do so.

“In one of the first conversations I had with the cast, I asked them ‘What does liberation mean to you?’”, says artistic director, Chris Rabideau in an interview with 519. “I wanted the cast to be free to feel that liberation and to show that liberation. It was written in the play because after a rehearsal during the making of the show, they went outside, and there were people in a park who were all nude laughing and listening to music, without any care or shame. The cast felt the show was missing this kind of liberation. I gave our cast that same freedom to take off as much or as little as they were comfortable with. It is completely up to them.”

Although much has been written about the nudity in the show, Hair is a lot more than just a flickering nude scene. Hair is the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical. It tells the story of the “tribe”, a group of politically active, long-haired hippies of the “Age of Aquarius” living a bohemian life in New York City as they fight against conscription into the Vietnam War.

Rabideau selected Hair for the 2018 season because he felt the show was just as relevant today as it was in 1968. It’s part of ACT’s continuing efforts to break cultural, racial and sexual boundaries.

“We once again find ourselves in a cultural shift,” he points out. “With movements like #METOO, LGBTQ fights for equality and Black Lives Matter (to name a few), this show fits into our present political landscape. Hair’s relevance is within its call for action and it’s need for social change which mimics what’s happening in our world today.”

ACT’s version of Hair was created through a seven-week intensive program called 30 Under 30, a summer program that brings together youth 18 to 30 to develop theatre skills, be mentored by local artists and produce a show. It is dedicated to celebrating Windsor-Essex County’s artistic talent under the age of 30.

Hair is being staged at the Capitol Theatre in Windsor on September 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16. Tickets start at $30.

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