The Hamilton Controversy

  • Julie H. Jordan

OnStage Guest Columnist

There has been a lot written recently about Vice-President Elect Mike Pence’s visit to Hamilton , and more written about the cast’s response to his presence.  Several have commented that the theater is no place for political statements, and others, that the response was restrained and respectful.  So, which is it?  

First of all, one has to question why Pence chose to attend this specific musical.  While some may say that this had to do with the popularity of the piece, others suspect the decision to attend this event was politically motivated.  After all, Hamilton, while examining the life of Alexander Hamilton, also addresses the American Revolution and what it took to achieve our freedom.  Couple that with a very diverse cast and a vice-president-elect with controversial opinions on LGBT rights, women’s rights, and race, one could argue that attendance at this event was meant to diffuse the controversy or discredit those accusations.

Regardless of your beliefs, the theater has always been a place where controversy is encouraged, with the end result, depending on the show, is to challenge theatergoers to think, question, and see another point of view.  Therefore, why is it surprising, shocking, or upsetting that this diverse cast chose to make a statement at the end of the production to Mr. Pence?  

The show was not disrupted for other audience members, and last I checked, we live in America, where free speech is our right.  I have read the statement that was presented, and it was, indeed, respectful and to the point.  Had I been in that amazing cast, I would not have hesitated to give this statement on behalf of not only those in the cast, but of all Americans, no matter the ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.  

Theater has always been unafraid to tackle the tough issues and speak out about injustice. This incident perfectly fits with what theater is all about: to encourage others to speak out and be heard.  I, for one, am grateful that it continues to do just that.