Last night Vice President Elect Mike Pence attended the blockbuster Broadway hit Hamilton! and appeared to enjoy it up until the curtain call when, with the undivided support of the entire cast and writer, Brandon Victor Dixon (Aaron Burr) made a short address to Pence, who scurried out of the theater. Dixon’s point was to simply point to Pence’s appreciation of the skills and talents of the cast, many of whom are gay, some of whom are immigrants or minorities, and all are allies to those groups because they understand that is what makes America great now.
Perhaps the curtain call should have proceeded with signs…..first all the women. Then all the immigrants. Then all the gays. But that would have been too easy to ignore.
President-Elect Trump quickly grabbed his phone and tweeted not once but twice, demanding an apology.
For what? Intimidating his VP so much he ran from the theater? For speaking the truth in a space where it could not be ignored?
Trump says the theater should be a safe place. Well, time for a bit of a review.
While some plays, musical and otherwise, are simply entertainment, a bit of fluff with a set boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl kind of plot, many many many others throughout time have been used to stage very political messages. To educate the people and yes, to hope the powerful also get the point.
“Theatre remains any society’s sharpest way to hold a live debate with itself,” writes renowned English director Peter Hall in his book The Necessary Theatre. “If it doesn’t challenge, provoke or illuminate, it is not fulfilling its function.”
Written in 1999, a senior honor’s thesis by Boyd Frank Richards explains how three popular musicals in the past 20 years are clearly evident of the musical theater being used as a forum for political expression.
Much of America is unable to attend musical theater but there have been numerous television shows that have definitely had political messages. , while set in Korea was most definitely a protest against the Vietnam War. helped Americans upset with the George W Bush presidency, see there could be a more honorable way. Even showed us how lying and cheating might get someone to a goal but not with many friends.
For Trump to tweet the theater must be a safe place is one more indication that his reality is not the same as all of ours. Theater is entertainment and yes, theater can be thought-provoking.
“We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” he said. “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”
And by the way, schools should be safe places.