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Life simon on 20 Nov 2016 05:27 pm

Thoughts on Trump vs. Hamilton

As you all know, I enjoy a bit of musical theatre. One of my favourite musicals is one called “Hamilton” – a musical about an immigrant who became a Founding Father and had great influence in shaping the United States.

The other night, VP-elect Mike Pence attended a performance of Hamilton. During its curtain call, when the show had ended, the cast took to the stage and spoke:

This led to President-elect Donald Trump attacking and shaming the cast of Hamilton, demanding an apology, and claimed that Pence was harassed at the theatre.

I just find this absolutely absurd.

Before anything else, I just want to say that I actually found the speech quite respectful and not inflammatory at all. Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor that portrayed Aaron Burr (a former Vice-President) in the musical, thanked Pence for attending the show and offered encouragement and hope – the hope that his Government will protect the rights of their diverse cast.

This was not harassment, merely an offer of goodwill (Dixon asked the audience not to boo), hoping that Pence will take the message of Hamilton to heart. (And by the way, if Trump thinks this is harassment, he should take a look at how he treats women).

I’ve seen so many arguments that the theatre was not the place for this speech, and that it was classless and disrespectful. Many are also saying that he was there to be entertained and not “lectured to” or “to be educated”. If you watched this speech, I would call that anything but. The fact the company allowed Pence access to tickets and to attend was a show of respect when they could have easily restricted him from the theatre. I’d also argue that the theatre is one of the most appropriate platforms for such a speech. Art has always been a way for artists and performers to express their thoughts and feelings through their work. Anyone who knows anything about the musical and the story of Hamilton knows that it is a story of inclusion, a story of love, and a story of diversity. The statement made after the show had finished just further expressed that. It would have been a different story if the cast refused to perform, or stop the show midway to make this statement, but they did not.

There’s also now a call to boycott Hamilton which is ridiculous in its own right. This musical is a constant sell-out with tickets next to impossible to get. I’d bet that the people calling for a boycott don’t even have any idea what the musical even is even about, and are just joining in the anti-Hamilton bandwagon because Trump had a few words to say.

Hamilton does not need to apologise for exercising their rights to free speech. A speech that does not hurt anyone. If Trump or Pence is offended by this, they both should think about the platform *they’re* on – a much more public platform, a global platform, where anything they say or do has the greater potential to cause so much more hurt.

I think the cast and company of Hamilton deserve massive praise and credit for standing up for what they believe in. It was their stage, and they have every right to use it to send their own message. Mike Pence chose to attend the theatre, so he must respect the performers on stage. I’ve also read that while Pence did leave as soon as the show ended, he did stop in the foyer to hear the statement directed at him which we can give him credit for listening.

History has its eyes on you, America.

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