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Lessons from ‘Hamilton’

June 13, 2016

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezRR9BGg7xc

The smash hit Broadway musical Hamilton based on the founding father Alexander Hamilton has been described as “an achievement of historical and cultural reimagining.” The production was nominated for a record-setting 16 Tony Awards, eleven of which it won on Sunday night. The show’s celebrated writer/singer/actor Lin-Manuel Miranda was determined to make the characters and storyline accessible to diverse audiences so assembled a multiculturally diverse cast. Miranda explained, “We’re telling the story of old, dead white men but we’re using actors of color, and that makes the story more immediate and more accessible to a contemporary audience.” The show’s hip-hop songs are enormously popular and cover debate themes that helped shape our nation including a rap-battle between Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Although the storyline takes dramatic license and has a number of historical inaccuracies, Hamilton is igniting an interest in history among both the young and the old–and even manages to make the subject matter cool for modern audiences.

Miranda’s inspiration for the show originated while he was waiting in an airport. He decided to read the biography entitled Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. After reading the first couple chapters, his imagination took on a life of its own; Miranda started envisioning Hamilton’s life story as a musical. He could have easily shrugged off the idea by doubting if anyone would actually be interested in what many people regard as dry historical material. Also, he could have talked himself out of combining the two unlikely elements of early American history and rap music. Who does that? But, instead of talking himself out of his ideas, he went with them. He took his time, working on songs and a storyline over the course of several years. It wasn’t perfect historically, but he presented his art form regardless. And good thing he did!

Have you ever had a brilliant idea that you talked yourself out of pursuing? Maybe that idea was flawed, maybe it’d never been done before, maybe it would mean needing to put in a lot of work over years. Do you wish you would have stayed the course and pursued your brilliant idea? Well, it’s not too late! You very well might be holding the key to a masterpiece. As Alexander Hamilton once said, “There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.”