Odes to a Hair: SORT Sponsors “Finesse of Tress”

Odes to a Hair: SORT Sponsors Finesse of Tress

Kate Preziosi

With attitude and grace, the women of Saturday night’s Sisters of the Round Table (SORT) production “Finesse of Tress” showed that there’s more to a woman’s hairstyle than meets the eye. Under the thoughtful direction of senior Kia King, the eleven piece monologue show called upon its predominantly female audience and cast to shed its preconceptions of what a person’s locks say about his or her identity.

“I tried to choose a collection of pieces that were very different from one another,” King said about the selection process. “I did not want this show to be focused on anyone of a particular race, gender or sexuality. I was trying to get across the message that hair is a universal signifier and topic that is pertinent to people from all walks of life. I hope that came through.”

The diversity of hairstyles that came to The Edge’s stage brought with it a unique assortment of stories. Cassie Quirindongo ’06 of the Women’s Studies department kicked off the night by taking the floor in only a bathrobe and a towel wrapped around her head. Delivering a sharp and witty poem on her battle with curly hair, Quirindongo quipped: “Shampoo, multiple conditioners, I feel like a surgical practitioner.” Quirindongo ended the piece by asking the audience to “examine those pressures to conform to a limited selection” of hairstyles.

Faculty Psychologist Hsiao-wen Lo shared her story of a college boyfriend who expected her to conform to the role of an “ideal housewife,” requesting that she keep her hair long.

“Needless to say, we broke up in senior year,” Lo said. She added, drawing a few laughs from the audience, “the first thing I did was cut my hair.”

Sophomore R.J. Reynes spoke out about her decision to shave her head, and about the subsequent reactions that she received from family, friends and even strangers. The piece entitled “Are you a boy?” addressed the gender stereotypes she confronts on a daily basis.

“When people attacked my gender, I didn’t know how to react,” Reynes said. “I’ve never been so uncomfortable with who I was until then…you don’t have to put me in a box. I am a woman, and I’ll express myself as a man if I want to.”

Junior Daniel Grubaugh, the only male to take the stage, approached the issue of gender stereotypes and hair from a different angle. With locks that reached his elbows, Grubaugh talked about how his personal decision to keep them long is constantly challenged by confused people with their own notions and ideas of what a man’s head should look like.

“I always have to find a new reason to keep it,” Grubaugh said with a sad smile, “To enjoy it.”

King concluded the show with her own monologue, entitled “Broccoli Head.” She explained what is was like growing up as a child of mixed race, and the reaction her hair drew from her black friends.

“For them, black was an image, and I just couldn’t fit that image,” King said.

But from that frustration, she was able to draw pride from the roots which her hair symbolized.

“Hair for me is identity,” King said. “It’s my signifier of being a mixed woman. I’m a fusion of two amazing worlds and people.”

The small stage and candid manner of the performers allowed audience to intimately relate to each story.

“I think this show was an amazing experience,” sophomore audience member Liz Harkins said. “It’s incredibly empowering for women in general. You don’t naturally think of telling your story through hair, but it was very effective.”

Looking back on the performance, King seems to feel her message came through.

“The show was just as I saw it,” King said. “An audience of true listeners and a collection of gifted performers willing to share a story.”