The musical “Hair” focuses on the lives of freeloving hippies during the Vietnam
War, a time where the youth of America began to retaliate against the war through protests and through drastic lifestyle
changes. Each of the main characters in this concept musical exemplify many of the basic attitudes and ideals
inherent to the hippies during that period. George Berger acts as a central antagonist towards two other main characters in “Hair,” Claude and Sheila. Berger also functions as a leader of the hippie tribe
. George Berger, when performed well, represents the hippie culture of the 60s by reflecting a youthful character preoccupied with subjects such as sex
, and drugs.
Berger, a character who loves his sexual freedom, opens with “Donna,” a song about his lost love, using plenty of sexual gestures and a strong lustful voice. He tends to grab himself a lot, not only in this song but during other numbers as well, and also grabs at other hippie tribe members- he makes sexually suggestive moves with both men and women in the play. This demonstrates Berger’s passion for sex and his love of both sexes, which was considered by many a key part of the hippie lifestyle.
Berger is concerned not only with sex but with rebellion as well, and he acts rebellious towards both school and towards the war effort. He is unconcerned about being expelled from school and sings “Going Down” when faced with three Hitler-like principals. Also, when the character of Claude receives a draft card in the mail, Berger attempts to persuade Claude not to go— he wants him to refuse the government’s request— to rebel against the establishment. When Berger speaks to Claude about his situation, he acts as a caring friend, but also as an individual who truly despises the war. He absolutely does not want him to go.
Drugs play a major part of Berger’s rebellion as well as in the hippie movement in general. Berger loves drugs and constantly talks about them in the play, and he also initiates the pot smoking scene during the pow-wow. Berger comes off as a stereotypical hippie, someone who smokes pot profusely and loves every minute of it.
George Berger, a freeloving, rebellious drug user, not only shows the personality of a typical teenager, but displays a 60s culture where all of these attitudes and actions were meant both as a means of protest and as a way to subvert the ugly and reprehensible realities of a war that many feel should have never been fought. I've seen this play once, and very much enjoyed it.