Heritage and hair

Jamaican-American actress Dianne Dixon is playing Loc Sistah in “Hair’itage the Play: The Journey of Sistahs and Their Hair,” a production about black women’s struggles and joys with their hair. The play will begin playing at the Black Lady Theatre on May 12.
Anthony Legg

Let’s talk hair.

A play discussing some black lady hair struggles is debuting at the Black Lady Theatre on May 12. “Hair’itage the Play, The Journey of Sistahs and Their Hair,” follows six women dealing with the negative notions that come with their hair. The show not only identifies the varying perceptions associated with a black woman’s hairstyle but will also challenge them, said one actress in the play.

“This is a play about black women and their experiences with black hair and accepting their identity while appreciating and embracing their own hair because there are so many stereotypes with our hair,” said actress Dianne Dixon, who plays Loc Hair Sistah. “If you’re wearing locs they assume you’re one way, and if you have an afro they assume another thing, and we want to address those stereotypes and ridicule some of them as well.”

The play highlights six monologues by women wearing different hairstyles, which include afro, weave, colored hair, straight hair, loc hair, and braided hair. And with each hairstyle comes a different story, one that Dixon says she can identify with.

Having worn locs for more than a decade, Dixon often deals with many of those negative assumptions as an actress, and has been the target of disparaging terms about her hair by agents and a former boyfriend, she said. But she says she strongly relates to the play because those struggles still present themselves in finding work as an actress.

“It is something that I can relate to because I’m a living testimony with what I’ve been going through with my nappy head,” said Dixon. “My mom was very disappointed when I locked my hair and a boyfriend said if I locked it he would leave me, and I said bye.”

But her feisty and hilarious character perfectly mirrors how she reacts to the negativity, she said.

“Loc Sistah is a very free character and independent,” said Dixon. “In one monologue she is taken out on a date by a brother where she is asked to pay for meal and Loc Sistah lets him have it.”

The other ladies in the show also have funny scenes but the overall comedic play does take a look at some serious issues, such as enslavement and the origin of the negative perception, said Dixon.

Even though there was a growing natural hair movement among black women, Dixon said hair was an important part of black women’s identity and there was still a need to conform because their hair remains a political issue.

“This play covers all the issues we go through on a daily basis because black women are always doing for something different with their hair and are looked at differently for each thing they do,” she said. “I think it still plays a major part of our lives and even today black women struggle with their hair and want to be more accepted, so they straighten and blow it out to make it acceptable to society.”

She said the play will spotlight how each hairstyle was received and most importantly will explain a thing or two about hair to help people to show more consideration to the differing experiences black women undergo.

“I think this is good for all audiences to come in and come with open mind to understand the culture,” said Dixon. “I feel it will be entertaining and educational for those who don’t know what we go through.”

“Hair’itage the Play, The Journey of Sistahs and Their Hair” at Black Lady Theatre [750 Nostrand Ave. between Sterling and Park places in Bedford-Stuyvesant, www.hairitagetheplay.com]. May 12 at 8 pm, May 13 at 3 pm and 8 pm, May 14 at 3 pm. $25.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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