Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Adding Color to History

In September of 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda released the soundtrack for the Broadway musical Alexander Hamilton. Miranda plays the lead of Hamilton, other cast members include Leslie Odom Jr as Aaron Burr and RenĂ©e Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler. The plot itself is nothing but a history lesson, following Alexander Hamilton’s legacy throughout his life. But the content of the musical itself redefines the fundamentals of theatre. Miranda cast himself and other people of color to play historically white roles, making a statement against the dated practice of ‘whitewashing’.
The musical Hamilton contrasts the classic colored stereotypes shown in theater, promoting racial equality and expression by throwing historical accuracy out the window to fight against racism. Hamilton’s legacy is essentially the founding of the United States, and how him and other influential activists came to conclusions on how to run this country. This story takes place in the late 1700’s, a time of revolution and rebellion against slavery. Yet all the characters in this musical are originally white statesmen and rulers. A basic form of color casting is ‘white-washing’; replacing the roles originally intended for people of color with white actors. Miranda seems to do the opposite with Hamilton, it’s nearly impossible to be cast in the production without being a P.O.C (person of color.) There are some whiny white actors who complained about P.O.C having an unfair advantage, but this is simply that taste of the world’s racist medicine.

The Broadway musical took the world by storm, positive feedback surging through every review of the phenomenal performance. Over one million copies of the cast album have been sold in the United States alone. A new movement towards a new colorful medium in not only theatre, but in other social aspects of life. In the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Immigrants, we get the job done.”

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