History forgotten will be repeated

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Friday, March 31, 2006

The mark of a truly quality arts and entertainment experience is how much discussion it generates in the household during the following week. My wife and I can't stop talking about Perseverance Theatre's production of "Hair" after seven days, and we both are going back to see it again.

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Many Perseverance productions over the last 24 years I've been in town have deeply touched my heart or have been seriously thought provoking, but this déj vu production touched my soul! Even though director PJ Paparelli and his youthful cast did not directly experience this story, they have playfully and painfully succeeded in "telling it like it was" for me. I laughed out loud and silently wept. Flashbacks of my dooming draft lottery number, the divisive daily tug-of-war in public opinion and fellow college boys calculating strategies to avoid induction, all haunted me.

But the essential personal epiphany this play provides is that our government is again rending innocent domestic and foreign hearts. American families again are forced to choose between silently supporting preachy patriotism and taking risky civil action to stop social injustice. In the '60s and '70s my generation successfully took back our country from the war machine by loudly raising our voices, by peacefully demonstrating, by petitioning and challenging elected leaders. As we did with Vietnam, we can do it again with Iraq by taking a few crucial moments to write opinionated letters, by supporting peace groups and by publicly demanding withdrawal of U.S. troops.

I realized the closing number in "Hair," "Let the Sunshine In," is a prayer for the American people to awaken from a nightmare that many of us have lived through before. Thank you, Perseverance Theatre, for slapping me upside the head, reminding me "history forgotten will be history repeated," reminding me of who I am and inspiring me to action - again.

Gene Randall


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