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Columbus Dispatch Article

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The Columbus Foundation article - Spring 2004

A Hair-Raising Experience Staged to Increase Awareness

For thousands of women and girls undergoing chemotherapy or radiation due to cancer, losing their hair can be a painful reality. Through laughs, tears, smiles, and humor, The Hair Theater Fund helps women and girls regain confidence, self-identity, and a strong spirit to cope, all stemming from wacky stories about hair.

HAIR THEATER is a uniquely humorous performance/audience participation production that explores the complex and hilarious relationships between women and their hair. There are both commercial and philanthropic HAIR THEATER episodes. Show proceeds from the presentations provide wigs and hats to women and girls in financial need, who are suffering from hair loss as a result of chemotherapy.

"We love our hair and hate our hair, always looking for our self-identity in our hair. When people have to deal with losing hair it becomes scary," said Patricia Wynn Brown, creator of the HAIR THEATER.

Although Brown began developing the piece several years after being diagnosed with cancer, she acknowledges that HAIR THEATER's intent is not to focus on cancer, but simply the humor of hair. she developed the show's concept after talking with her hairstylist. "I was fascinated with my hairstylist and what people tell her. They are like therapists; they hear everything about our lives, our dreams, our fantasies," Mrs. Brown said.

The first performance of HAIR THEATER was in 2000 with a cast of four women. In the second season, a percentage of the profits went to a wig/hat fund established at OVER MY HEAD, with owner Carol Hoyt. Popularity spread fast, and by the third season Mrs. Brown started performing the philanthropic shows at Moretti's of Arlington. Proceeds from these shows were used to establish The Hair Theater Fund at The Columbus Foundation in March 2003.

The fund makes it possible for women and girls at every hospital in central Ohio to obtain the wigs and hats they might not otherwise be able to afford. To date, 60 women and one 10-year-old girl have been helped.

Mrs. Brown performs the one-woman show with the help of audience members and volunteers at the philanthropic shows, known as the HAIRNETS. Now in its fourth season, HAIR THEATER shows at Moretti's are immediate sell-outs.

According to Mrs. Brown, "It's wonderful to learn about self-acceptance and laugh, and it's terrific the charity performances do good, but if one audience member goes to the doctor and gets a needed exam, and saves just one person's life, the show is all worth it, and I will do it over and over again."


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