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Subject: "Hamilton" Broadway Musical rss

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Warren Smith
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Any Hamilton junkies out there? Have you seen the show?

I only discovered Hamilton recently and have very much enjoyed listening to the cast recording with it's brilliant weave of traditional and groundbreakingly modern musical styles. To say that it's a work of genius is not unwarranted, IMO.

I think that it's popularity will continue to grow and that Hamilton also 'legitimizes' rap music in a new way. (I'm not a huge hip hop fan and would surmise that rap represents a single digit percentage of my music). The casting is brilliant and helps us see each other as having common passions, aspirations and struggles. Further, I suspect it will bring history to life for audiences who might not otherwise take an interest.

Thanks.
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No I found both Christine and Niel relevant.
 
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Erik Henry
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I've got the soundtrack too and really love it. It does a great job of telling the complete (I'm assuming) story of the musical. The history's fascinating and the human stories are very compelling. My son and I were in NYC over spring break and I would have loved to see it, but it would have been around $2000 for us both to go. I'm almost thinking I should have done it.
 
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I haven't seen it, but have enjoyed the music. I'm curious about the suggestion that it gets a pass on discussions about race relations and deals with the topic superficially. I'd have described that as a bigger deal than you seem to, and I'd be interested to know what you mean when you say it's been given a pass.
 
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Drew1365 wrote:
Ticket prices for Hamilton ensure that only coastal one-percenter elitists will get a chance to see it. But who wants to sit next to a redneck from Missouri anyway?



Why do you hate capitalism so much?

n seats supply and n*10 seats deman = 10X cost
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Erik Henry
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They've given 20,000 $10 tickets to students in NYC and are planning on raising that number to 100,000 students as the show starts to tour around the U.S.
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Drew1365 wrote:
Ticket prices for Hamilton ensure that only coastal one-percenter elitists will get a chance to see it. But who wants to sit next to a redneck from Missouri anyway?



Honey Boo-Boo reruns are good enough for me!
 
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We've enjoyed the hell out of it. My wife and I are both Broadway enthusiasts. The kids ask to listen. It's a great work.

My six-year-old son learned the word "fuck" from Hamilton. However, he also learned about George Washington, Aaron Burr, Lafayette, Hamilton, and the Battle of Yorktown, so I think we're coming out on top of that one.
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rinelk wrote:
I haven't seen it, but have enjoyed the music. I'm curious about the suggestion that it gets a pass on discussions about race relations and deals with the topic superficially. I'd have described that as a bigger deal than you seem to, and I'd be interested to know what you mean when you say it's been given a pass.
I was trying to say that it seems that there's no outcry about these iconic persons of history being portrayed by artists of varying ethnicities - which is a great thing! I've edited that part out of my OP as it really is a non-issue.
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h00sha wrote:
rinelk wrote:
I haven't seen it, but have enjoyed the music. I'm curious about the suggestion that it gets a pass on discussions about race relations and deals with the topic superficially. I'd have described that as a bigger deal than you seem to, and I'd be interested to know what you mean when you say it's been given a pass.
I was trying to say that it seems that there's no outcry about these iconic persons of history being portrayed by artists of varying ethnicities - which is a great thing! I've edited that part out of my OP as it really is a non-issue.


Got it. I actually took that casting to cleverly suggest two things: first, that the position of those who fought to establish our country, and succeeded monumentally, were not the privileged favorites in that struggle, and were starkly opposed to tradition and its power structures. So it was sort of a neat way to use race to make a purely historical point. Second, it seemed like a way to help modern-day people identify with those who aren't of their race--blacks and latinos can reasonably see the story of the founders as their story, about people like them (and thus, that they too can improve the world dramatically), while white people can look on non-whites as less alien and more admirable than we otherwise might.
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Great show! I recommend seeing it if you can. Best part, no pesky Indians!
 
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Not really interested. I do like the occasional musical - The Book of Mormon was great, but Hamilton just doesn't seem that interesting.
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rylfrazier wrote:
Not really interested. I do like the occasional musical - The Book of Mormon was great, but Hamilton just doesn't seem that interesting.

We were in NYC last weekend but went to see An American in Paris instead which is much better than the film. Mostly went to see Sleep no More which is our addiction. (Four times in a threeday weekend.) Went in the Compleat Strategist to return this to games.) Go and see Groundhog Day when it reaches Broadway, it is brilliant.
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h00sha wrote:
rinelk wrote:
I haven't seen it, but have enjoyed the music. I'm curious about the suggestion that it gets a pass on discussions about race relations and deals with the topic superficially. I'd have described that as a bigger deal than you seem to, and I'd be interested to know what you mean when you say it's been given a pass.
I was trying to say that it seems that there's no outcry about these iconic persons of history being portrayed by artists of varying ethnicities - which is a great thing! I've edited that part out of my OP as it really is a non-issue.


Is it a non-issue?

Lyra D. Monteiro wrote:
[...] it is problematic to have black and brown actors stand in for the great white men of the early United States in a play that does not acknowledge that the ancestors of these same actors were excluded from the freedoms for which the founders fought.

This realization brings attention to a truly damning omission in the show: despite the proliferation of black and brown bodies onstage, not a single enslaved or free person of color exists as a character in this play. [...] Unless one listens carefully to the lyrics—which do mention slavery a handful of times—one could easily assume that slavery did not exist in this world, and certainly that it was not an important part of the lives and livelihoods of the men who created the nation.


Full article.
 
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rinelk wrote:
Got it. I actually took that casting to cleverly suggest two things: first, that the position of those who fought to establish our country, and succeeded monumentally, were not the privileged favorites in that struggle, and were starkly opposed to tradition and its power structures. So it was sort of a neat way to use race to make a purely historical point. Second, it seemed like a way to help modern-day people identify with those who aren't of their race--blacks and latinos can reasonably see the story of the founders as their story, about people like them (and thus, that they too can improve the world dramatically), while white people can look on non-whites as less alien and more admirable than we otherwise might.


In the light of the review I cite above, this strikes me that you are reducing history to a comforting tale we tell ourselves in order to promote social cohesion rather than a critical discipline that forces us to ask difficult questions of the past.

As an example, is this statement ("the position of those who fought to establish our country [...] were not the privileged favorites in that struggle, and were starkly opposed to tradition and its power structures"*) reallly true? Or rather part of the American foundational myth, part of history as a narrative of the "wonderfulness of us"?
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* My understanding is that their idea of "power structures" basically derived from the Glorious Revolution, which in many senses was about the restoration of perceived lost rights. In that sense, there is something essentially conservative about the revolutionaries, albeit a different form of conservatism to those who supported the crown.
 
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Erik Henry
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Salo sila wrote:
h00sha wrote:
rinelk wrote:
I haven't seen it, but have enjoyed the music. I'm curious about the suggestion that it gets a pass on discussions about race relations and deals with the topic superficially. I'd have described that as a bigger deal than you seem to, and I'd be interested to know what you mean when you say it's been given a pass.
I was trying to say that it seems that there's no outcry about these iconic persons of history being portrayed by artists of varying ethnicities - which is a great thing! I've edited that part out of my OP as it really is a non-issue.


Is it a non-issue?

Lyra D. Monteiro wrote:
[...] it is problematic to have black and brown actors stand in for the great white men of the early United States in a play that does not acknowledge that the ancestors of these same actors were excluded from the freedoms for which the founders fought.

This realization brings attention to a truly damning omission in the show: despite the proliferation of black and brown bodies onstage, not a single enslaved or free person of color exists as a character in this play. [...] Unless one listens carefully to the lyrics—which do mention slavery a handful of times—one could easily assume that slavery did not exist in this world, and certainly that it was not an important part of the lives and livelihoods of the men who created the nation.


Full article.

Meh. I thought the examples of acknowledging those issues in the play that were cited in the article were pretty memorable--especially when representatives from the South are called out for claiming they are the producers--"Your debts are paid cuz you don’t pay for labor . . . . we know who’s really doing the planting." There's also a time not cited in the article where the point is made that we won't be truly free until all of us are free.

And the comment that "Miranda points to the brief lyrical references as proof that the play takes slavery seriously" seems to downplay the fact that they're only "lyrical" refererences. Well, the whole thing is sung, so what do you expect.
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Kelsey Rinella
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Salo sila wrote:
rinelk wrote:
Got it. I actually took that casting to cleverly suggest two things: first, that the position of those who fought to establish our country, and succeeded monumentally, were not the privileged favorites in that struggle, and were starkly opposed to tradition and its power structures. So it was sort of a neat way to use race to make a purely historical point. Second, it seemed like a way to help modern-day people identify with those who aren't of their race--blacks and latinos can reasonably see the story of the founders as their story, about people like them (and thus, that they too can improve the world dramatically), while white people can look on non-whites as less alien and more admirable than we otherwise might.


In the light of the review I cite above, this strikes me that you are reducing history to a comforting tale we tell ourselves in order to promote social cohesion rather than a critical discipline that forces us to ask difficult questions of the past.

As an example, is this statement ("the position of those who fought to establish our country [...] were not the privileged favorites in that struggle, and were starkly opposed to tradition and its power structures"*) reallly true? Or rather part of the American foundational myth, part of history as a narrative of the "wonderfulness of us"?
__________
* My understanding is that their idea of "power structures" basically derived from the Glorious Revolution, which in many senses was about the restoration of perceived lost rights. In that sense, there is something essentially conservative about the revolutionaries, albeit a different form of conservatism to those who supported the crown.


Two things: first, exactly as Erik writes, the references to slavery are important. The idea that if you have your listen to the words, it doesn't count is … pretty odd. The awfulness of slavery is literally the most important put-down in the show, easy to understand and impossible to miss. To get a sense for how much of a reach the author's willing to make in order to make a controversial point, she deliberately and explicitly replaces the race of one of the actors to suit her conclusion (saying that a Chinese-American "reads" as white).

Second, if there's something conservative about revolutionaries and their opponents, are you suggesting that the true radicals were the people who didn't take a side, or are you defining progressivism out of existence? Again, that seems like warping history pretty hard to make it fit your conclusion. Every attempt at progress recruits pre-existing ideas about what is right to overthrow a traditional power which they claim fails to respect those ideas. The value of work wasn't original to Marx; it's central to the Protestant ethic. What made his Communism revolutionary and progressive was that it tried to show that existing power structures were incompatible with that value.
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I listened to an excellent biography on AH on CD. I have to admit the period is not one of my strongest areas history wise. Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection kindled my interest in the topic. A very interesting person indeed.
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rinelk wrote:
Two things: first, exactly as Erik writes, the references to slavery are important. The idea that if you have your listen to the words, it doesn't count is … pretty odd. The awfulness of slavery is literally the most important put-down in the show, easy to understand and impossible to miss. To get a sense for how much of a reach the author's willing to make in order to make a controversial point, she deliberately and explicitly replaces the race of one of the actors to suit her conclusion (saying that a Chinese-American "reads" as white).[

Second, if there's something conservative about revolutionaries and their opponents, are you suggesting that the true radicals were the people who didn't take a side, or are you defining progressivism out of existence? Again, that seems like warping history pretty hard to make it fit your conclusion. Every attempt at progress recruits pre-existing ideas about what is right to overthrow a traditional power which they claim fails to respect those ideas. The value of work wasn't original to Marx; it's central to the Protestant ethic. What made his Communism revolutionary and progressive was that it tried to show that existing power structures were incompatible with that value.


The author's argument may or may not hold up in certain points. I was questioning whether it was a non-issue. However, I think neither your nor Erik are giving due consideration to some of what she writes. I mean, she quotes an interesting counterargument to the defence that the text mentions slavery from a historian, David Waldstreicher: "Founders chic historians emplot slavery when it serves to upraise the character of their heroes, i.e. Adams and Hamilton, and diss their flawed characters, i.e. Jefferson". She mentions the Chinese-American actress "playing white" in the context of an argument about whether this is colour-blind or colour-conscious casting. The example of Philippa Shoo may not be a great argument, but are you really claiming that the choice of Black and Latino actors to play the founding fathers was not a conscious decision? That it was conscious is, after all, the basis of your praise for the piece.

I do share her concern (although I come from it from a different angle that has nothing to do with black people and American history, namely Ukrainian-Jewish history) that glossing over past oppression in the name of present inclusivity does little to advance the latter cause. "Colour-blind casting" might have the danger of projecting our own normative ideas of a good society on the past, blinding us to both differences between then and now and ignoring past sufferring. As in your own post, it encourages to look for simplistic similarities with the past, often trying to legitimate a persent endeavour (however laudable that undertaking may be in itself) with a facile "was-ought" normativism. That doesn't help people understand history.

Your last paragraph is an unwarranted extrapolation of my point to the degree that it completely distorts what I am saying. I was not writing about revolutionaries in general but about the American revolutionaries in particular. My claim was that, in my understanding, many were explicitly framing their demands as the restoration of traditional rights, like the English thinkers from whom they drew; their self-perception was conservative.

"Progressive" is not a useful word when discusssing history: it posits a point toward which history is marching and judges a past event by whether it moves toward or away from it. As such, the term tells us less about the past event itself and more about what the speaker thinks is good or bad. Ironically, it is a very old-fashiond way of talking about history.

It is interesting that you say Marx echoed ideas in the "Protestant ethic". The Protestant ethic was a concept developed by Weber in response to Marx with the aim of arguing that ideas could also have an economic impact. Weber just assumed its existance; he didn't try to prove it. Many historians looking at Early Modern capitalism have questioned whether indeed there was such a thing.
 
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DavidDearlove wrote:
rylfrazier wrote:
Not really interested. I do like the occasional musical - The Book of Mormon was great, but Hamilton just doesn't seem that interesting.

We were in NYC last weekend but went to see An American in Paris instead which is much better than the film. Mostly went to see Sleep no More which is our addiction. (Four times in a threeday weekend.) Went in the Compleat Strategist to return this to games.) Go and see Groundhog Day when it reaches Broadway, it is brilliant.


I really want to see Sleep No More - that guy has never done a production on the west coast, has he?
 
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I think it's entirely possible that the casting of principle actors is colorblind, but that the choice of musical parts introduces a bias and that understudies are chosen partly for their resemblance to the actors they back up. What virtually everyone regards as innovative about Hamilton is the use of traditionally nonwhite musical forms to tell a story of the founding; there seems to me nothing which would cast doubt on the colorblindness of the casting that the actors who are most talented in traditionally black musical forms are black. Similarly, I expect Miranda to write about a character to whom he personally relates and to give himself a great part. So I wouldn't agree that we have evidence that the casting wasn't colorblind, but I do think we have evidence that the writing wasn't.

As for whether a broadway musical oversimplifies history: it does.

I agree that the revolutionaries saw themselves as restoring rights. Do you have some additional reason to think that they regarded themselves as not doing so in a radical new way? If you don't like the term "progressive", I get that, your reasons are sound. What opposite of "conservative" do you prefer, and can you give an example of a historical figure or group you feel wasn't conservative, who could not be described as attempting to restore something previously valued?

Weber introduced the term "Protestant ethic". When you write that "Many historians … have questioned …", are you seriously suggesting you believe that, before Marx, no one valued work?
 
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rylfrazier wrote:
DavidDearlove wrote:
rylfrazier wrote:
Not really interested. I do like the occasional musical - The Book of Mormon was great, but Hamilton just doesn't seem that interesting.

We were in NYC last weekend but went to see An American in Paris instead which is much better than the film. Mostly went to see Sleep no More which is our addiction. (Four times in a threeday weekend.) Went in the Compleat Strategist to return this to games.) Go and see Groundhog Day when it reaches Broadway, it is brilliant.


I really want to see Sleep No More - that guy has never done a production on the west coast, has he?

Punchdrunk tried to do something in LA but it all fell through. They just cloned the whole thing in Shanghai. My wife and I go to NYC every year or so for a long weekend and go several times.
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Salo sila wrote:
I do share her concern that glossing over past oppression in the name of present inclusivity does little to advance the latter cause.
Plainly: You are asking too much of a Broadway musical.

It would be great if, via the stage, we could somehow not only totally & completely address historical wrongs AND describe them to the fullest political, social, and economic extent AND place them in the current prism of historical scholarship AND teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, but you're asking for Hamilton to be something it was never going to be, and no stage play or musical can be.

The genius of Hamilton was placing present-day personalities using present-day verbage and present-day mannerisms delivering present-day music to a distinctly not-present-day history lesson. There is real power in sitting down a kid (or an adult) and being able to say, "See, this is how the struggle of the nation mirrors your struggle. This is how the personalities you see all around you mirror the personalities that all clashed and came together at the nation's founding. Regardless of color, you are part of that continuum, open your eyes and see!"

Because let's face it, "Hamilton: The Musical" had the capacity to be a tremendous and unmitigated dumpster fire if it were handled clumsily, or casually, or without care, or as a circus sideshow. Lin-Manuel Miranda worked on this for years, and has great passion for the source material, as well as great passion for theater and the neighborhoods where the actors in his show came from. It is clearly a labour of love, and has clearly struck a chord emotionally with many, many people. So to try to spin it like "Well, they should have beat people over the head by confirming the proletariat struggle against the bourgeoisie!" misses the point of the whole thing.

After all, it's Broadway, not a street-corner harangue.
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