bad jew

In 2012 actress Tracee Chimo played Daphna, a Jewish girl with some pretty hairy issues in Joshua Harmon’s play Bad Jews. He describes Dephna as having “Thick, intense, curly, frizzy long brown hair. Hair that clogs a drain after one shower. Hair you find on pillows and in corners of the room and in your refrigerator six months after the head from which it grew last visited. Hair that could not be straightened even if you had four hours and three hairdressers double-fisting blow driers. Hair that screams: Jew.” Her hair has been called the fifth character in a cast of four. 

Now the dark comedy is being reproduced and recast around the world and Chimo’s Daphna is being reinterpretted by other actresses with familiarly frizzy, poofy manes. All of these women have hair that plays a major role in their lives, and it begs the question — How do they get their hair in character for the show? The New York Times shared these responses from the on-stage Daphna adaptations.

daphna curly hair

NATALIA COEGO at Coral Gables’ GableStage: “At home I would wash my hair and shampoo and condition it and then blow dry it with a diffuser to get it nice and curly, but enough that it would still be smooth. At the theater, I would spray a bunch of leave-in conditioner. Sometimes I’d add water so it would curl. I’d also put bobby pins into my hair to keep it out of my face.”

curly jew hair

JENNA AUGEN in London at Arts Theater: ““I love Sundays because it’s my day off, and it’s the only day I can actually brush through my entire head and get it nice and smooth. To get it to that very ethnic state, I always have to put my hair up in pin curls at night and then wet it. I let them down and tease them out right before the show, and that makes it frizzy.”

curly hair

NATASHA GOREL at Stages Repertory Theater and Black Lab Theater in Jewish Community Center of Houston: “I don’t shampoo my hair ever. I only use conditioner. I have to leave it in for at least 10 minutes for it to be brushable, because it gets really matty. As soon as I get out of the show I brush my hair, and that takes about 15 minutes. Then I put in three different oils and a leave-in conditioner and clip it up.”

LAURA STRACKO FRANKS at The Circuit Playhouse at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis: “My hair is naturally wavy, not kinky-curly. After I got out of the shower, I put it in pin curls and sprayed it and let it dry. Then I took it out at half-hour and ran my hands through it. The more I did that the bigger it got. [I personally use] Shea Moisture shampoo and conditioner and Aussie Instant Freeze hair spray.”

CONNIE MANFREDI at Winnipeg’s Jewish Theater: I’m going to wash it on my day off and then ride it out for at least three days. Then maybe do a condition and not shampoo, which sometimes takes away the good oil that keeps my hair in check.


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