Hamilton

Hamilton is a modern American musical that was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and debuted on Broadway in 2015.  Containing many of the themes commonly found in theatre about revolution, Hamilton talks about martyrdom and its importance.  Alexander Hamilton, who is the focus of the musical wants to participate in the American Revolution directly on the battlefield.  He believes that if he dies for his country, he will be remembered as a hero, which he, among many others, believed is the best way to die.  Acknowledging that he has many other skills, George Washington calls Hamilton in to ask him to be his “right hand man.”  Washington says, “Head full of Fantasies of dyin’ like a martyr?/ Dying is easy, young man.  Living is harder” [1].  Although Washington does not say that becoming a martyr is unacceptable, he says that Hamilton would be better suited for a different job.  Although Hamilton knows and understands his skills, he is still in love with the idea of his martyrdom.

This is a more complex example of a musical that not only ties in examples of memory and martyrdom, but of race relations.  The characters, which are based on white figures in history, are portrayed by a minority cast.  Although this is not the first musical to break racial boundaries, but because of the huge popularity of the musical, “Curry said it will be interesting to see whether Broadway audiences will continue to embrace contemporary music like hip hop. He also raised some of the complexities of colorblind casting” [2].  The legacy of slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and the killing of innocent blacks by police today make the theme of martyrdom more real and relevant because these people were being mistreated and sometimes killed, but the deaths could be used as an inspiration to keep fighting, which was similar to what people in Ireland believed the effect of dying for Ireland was.    

Now that Hamilton has brought up the race issue in America, 1776 has come back for more performances and has “has added some racial diversity to its cast” [3].  Again this shows how Hamilton is having a large impact when it comes to race relations in the United States.

[1] Miranda

[2] Jackson

[3] Itzkoff

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