There are now two ways to order Caravan to Oz at The Drama Book Shop. Visit the shop in New York City at 250 West 40th. The book is in the theater history section. Or visit their website to order it online at the following link: Caravan to Oz
Our brother, Hibiscus aka George Harris III, is featured in David Talbot’s mesmerizing book, Season of the Witch. In a kaleidoscopic narrative, New York Times bestselling author David Talbot tells the gripping story of San Francisco in the turbulent years between 1967 and 1982 – and of the extraordinary men and women who led the city to its ultimate rebirth and triumph. Season of the Witch is the first book to fully capture the dark magic of San Francisco in this breathtaking period, when the city radically changed itself – and then revolutionized the world.
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250 West 40th Street – between 7th & 8th Avenue
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Caravan to Oz is narrated by family members and guests including Oscar-winning actor/director Tim Robbins, theater producers Ellen Stewart, Crystal Field and Ritsaert ten Cate, playwrights Robert Patrick and Robert Heide, filmmakers Scott Morris and Mike Figgis, and educator John Bernhardt. It’s not easy raising six kids in the arts. But the outlier Harrises answer every challenge on their personal yellow brick road with courage and commitment. Their pioneering journey offers something to anyone who is driven by a dream.
In 2012, actor, writer and pop culture enthusiast Michael Varrati wrote a nice piece about George Harris III aka HIbiscus on the blog of performer Peaches Christ. Michael writes regularly for her blog. In the piece, he describes HIbiscus’ role in founding the performance troupes The Cockettes and the Angels of Light
Hibiscus, photo by Joshua Freiwald
by Walter Michael Harris
In the fall of 1967, with the war in Vietnam raging, a large scale antiwar demonstration was organized at the Pentagon. Many photojournalists were on hand, including Bernie Boston, who took a photo of my brother, George Harris III, age 18, inserting flowers into the rifle barrels of National Guard soldiers in a tense confrontation.
Bernie Boston told Curio Magazine interviewer Alice Ashe in 2005:
“I saw the troops march down into the sea of people, and I was ready for it. One soldier lost his rifle. Another lost his helmet. The rest had their guns pointed out into the crowd, when all of a sudden a young hippie stepped out in front of the action with a bunch of flowers in his left hand. With his right hand he began placing the flowers into the barrels of the soldiers’ guns. He came out of nowhere, and it took me years to find out who he was . . . his name was Harris.”
Boston’s iconic image of my brother George, answering guns with flowers, remains a metaphor for the message of the 1960s youth counterculture movement – that love can overcome political tyranny, unite the human family, break the war machine, and bring peace to the world.
Three months later, at age 16, I was cast in the rock musical HAIR as it was preparing to open on Broadway. HAIR has a reputation as a “hippie musical” but, in fact, it was (and is) a powerful anti-war statement. The show was an overnight sensation, broadcasting the hopes and dreams of the youth counterculture, and an earnest plea to end the war.
Boys from my New York City neighborhood were drafted, went to Vietnam and returned injured, or never came back. Inspired by my brother meeting guns with flowers, I poured my whole self into making my performance in HAIR a deeply personal statement against the Vietnam War. I believe the show’s many first-run productions around the world played a part in ending the war. In modern HAIR productions my brother’s courageous act of protest is reenacted.
Our full story is in the new memoir, Caravan to Oz: a family reinvents itself off-off-Broadway.
To order the book, CLICK HERE.
Photo credits for this blog:
“Flower Power” – Bernie Boston/RIT Archive Collections/Rochester Institute of Technology
HAIR Logo – courtesy Michael Butler
By Jayne Anne Harris, Eloise Harris and Mary Lou Harris
Photo by Dan Jansen
(L-R Jayne Anne Harris, Eloise Harris and Mary Lou Harris)
Off-Off Broadway theater was our first home. For two decades, The Harris Sisters (Jayne Anne, Eloise and Mary Lou) and the rest of our family performed in original drama and musicals at New York City’s La Mama ETC., Caffe Cino, Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater, Theater for the New City, Judson Poets Theater and more. They travelled across Europe with their brother Hibiscus and his Angels of Light Theater troupe. Inspired by the beat of the New York punk and rock scene of the late 1970’s, The Harris Sisters and Trouble (our band), led by brother Fred, included bassist Ray Ploutz, guitarists Bill Davis and Josh Callow and drummers Mike Pedulla and Mike Kimmel, played at CBGB, SNAFU, Great Gildersleeves, The Mudd Club, RT Firefly, Peppermint Lounge and other rock venues of the day.
At the height of the disco era, The Harris Sisters were unable to resist our charismatic brother Hibiscus’ charms in wooing us to form the bejeweled rock and roll group, Hibiscus and the Screaming Violets. We embarked on a new tour of New York City disco clubs such as Studio 54, Xenon, The Ice Palace, Bonds, Danceteria and The Red Parrot. We performed on the same circuit with Madonna, The Weather Girls, Blondie, Nona Hendryx, Grace Jones, Michael Musto and The Must, Billy Idol and Cyndi Lauper. It seemed that we had an all access pass to the greatest musical scene on earth…. Stay tuned for more blogs from The Harris Family…
Read The Harris Sisters’ full story in their new memoir, Caravan to Oz: a family reinvents itself off-off Broadway
George Harris II scouted out New York City in 1963 and found an apartment (no easy feat with six kids!) with the assistance of Ellen Stewart founder of off off Broadway’s La Mama ETC. The apartment was at 319 East 9th Street in the East Village and La Mama had the basement space. George Harris II and Jayne Anne Harris followed in August of 1964 and November 1 1964 is the day the rest of the Harris family arrived in New York City. Read more in the book “Caravan To Oz” . #caravantooz Available on Amazon:
Photo: Bernie Boston/RIT Archive Collections. Rochester Institute of Technology
On October 21, 1967 – Bernie Boston’s photo of the brave, peace-loving teenager in a turtleneck sweater putting flowers into the gun barrels of military police went far beyond being a runner up for the Pulitzer Prize. This iconic moment became the origin of “Flower Power,” the most popular anti-war catchphrase of the 1960s. Mr. Boston told Alice Ashe of Curio magazine in 2005, “I saw the troops march down into the sea of people, and I was ready for it. One soldier lost his rifle. Another lost his helmet. The rest had their guns pointed out into the crowd, when all of a sudden a young hippie stepped out in front of the action with a bunch of flowers in his left hand. With his right hand he began placing the flowers into the barrels of the soldiers’ guns. ‘He came out of nowhere,’ says Boston, ‘and it took me years to find out who he was . . . his name was Harris.'”
“Harris” was George Harris III, at 18 years of age, whose life’s work was an example of Flower Power and free expression. George went on to rename himself “Hibiscus” and created powerful new forms of theater and political expression around the world. He passed away from AIDS in 1982 at the age of 32. His life story is recounted in ‘Caravan to Oz: a family reinvents itself off-off-Broadway,’ a memoir written by his family. www.caravantooz.com
Hibiscus, aka George Harris III, made a scrapbook/script for every show. He would collect things from thrift stores, book stores, music stores and jewels TONS of jewels!!! This one was on exhibition out west in 2011 and is now a book by curators Elissa Auther and Adam Lerner. Click the scrapbook link to see the pages and click on the book link to purchase the book.