Hamilton: An American musical, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is about the founding father Alexander Hamilton, who is an 18th century immigrant. It is about Hamilton’s rise up from his illegitimate birth in poverty, in the Caribbean, to George Washington’s aid-de-camp and the first secretary of the treasury. Barack Obama said that Hamilton was “a striving immigrant who escaped poverty, made his way to the New World, climbed to the top by sheer force of will and pluck and determination” The music entirely consisting of the hip-hop genre, contrasting with the time period. For example, the cabinet debates are presented as rap-battles, encouraging an audience interest into mundane topics – such as the national debt. I love Hamilton. I can’t believe I haven’t written about it yet! I, unfortunately, have not had the pleasure of seeing it , however if and when it transfers over to the west end, I will be first in line to see it.
Now the reason, I brought it up, is that I read an article in The Observer about Hamilton providing insight into the parallel of the musical to the politics of America at the time. Especially now. Having an article such as this across a double sheet, in a mainstream form of media, brought me hope and happiness . It compared Alexander Hamilton to Donald Trump. When Michelle Obama was talking about how much she loved Hamilton, on the other side of America, a Trump rally was going on, ranting about a wall to keep out immigrants. The culture gap could have never seemed so wide. The liberals on one side spoke for inclusivity, and on the other, thousands of angry, frustrated and defeated Americans, putting their faith in a businessman with a flashy show of promising to make America great again.
The show has become a world-wide phenomenon, and more people talk about it than have actually seen it. It is also going to be used to assist education – the soundtrack becoming a tool in the classroom. Last year The New Yorker published an essay: Why Donald Trump and Jeb Bush should see “Hamilton”. “With its youthful, almost entirely non-Caucasian cast, and its celebration of the possibilities inherent in building a new nation, the poetry of Hamilton is a reminder of the gleaming sense of hope that the election of 2008 engendered,” the essay read. The essay highlighted two lines from the show which mirror this bonkers election season. “Ya best g’wan run back where ya come from” This is said to Hamilton, however is refuted with “Immigrants, we get the job done.” There is something so empowering about that line. It is sung with such pride and truth in a time – reflective of now – where immigrants are shunned and shooed away. Obama remarked about the writing of Hamilton from Miranda “Lin-Manuel saw something of his own family, and every immigrant family.” I don’t really need to explain the politics of Trump, I’m sure. His racism, sexism, bigotry speaks for itself. One of the most worrying policies of his, is the wall that is to be built across the border of Mexico to keep out immigrants. However back at the White House, Miranda performed a freestyle rap with the first black president in the Rose garden. It could not have been a more vivid symbol of a modern, diverse, inclusive, creative and idealistic America.
“Trump’s ability to stir emotions around the wall and Mexicans is the opposite of Hamilton, which has this hopeful message that immigrants can do anything,” said Amy Austin, president of theatreWashington. “That’s what America is. Hamilton is so aspirational. Trump doesn’t have anything aspirational for the whole country.” When Obama was elected, there was optimism, and hope for change and progress forward. However Trump’s candidacy has depleted that hope and optimism. There is so much more I could say on the matter, but I fear it will become even more political. I love Hamilton, and I’m amazed by the support it gathers and how it parallels America’s political scene. How it’s getting people interested in theatre, politics and history. It just makes me very happy, for it to be so popular to someone so deserving. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who loves theatre with a passion and works so hard, and has achieved so much. I just love it and I can’t wait to see it (hopefully).