We Saw Hamilton and I Was Not Prepared for the Experience

We purchased our Pantages Hollywood season tickets in February 2016. 3 days ago, we finally got to use our season tickets for Hamilton. Yes, we have been waiting around a year and a half for this. It did not disappoint. I’ve been listening to the original cast recording for about as long. I know the lyrics. I know the stories. But it still didn’t prepare me, a woman of color who used to identify as a musical theatre performer, for seeing the show.

There were people in the cast that look like me that were not playing slaves.

There were people in the cast that look like me that were not playing “the help.”

There were people in the cast that look like me that were not playing the parts of comic relief.

There were people in the cast that look like me that were not playing “starving Africans” YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

There were people in the cast that look like me that were not playing the only jazz musician in the whole show that seems like they are the only person that knows what the fuck they’re doing.

There were people in the cast that look like me that were not playing the token brown person.

There were people in the cast that look like me that had natural hair. NATURAL HAIR. ON THE STAGE. IN A PRODUCTION THAT IS NOT NAMED “HAIR.”

There were people in the cast that look like me that were not playing sex workers.

I wish 20 year old me had Hamilton. Things might have been different. I might have set higher goals for performing because I would have known there was a possibility that I could be cast in a role that wasn’t any of the above. I don’t know if I even heard a word of the opening song because I was so overwhelmed by seeing people who look like me on stage that weren’t the punchline of a joke.

I have seen a lot of theatre but this is the first time I ever saw a show and thought, “This is for me. This is for people of color.”

Yep, I’m going to say it: Hamilton is not for white people.

I’m not saying white people don’t like it. Of course you do. Because it’s amazing. But it’s not for you. Like Beyonce’s Lemonade. It can be for your entertainment. It can be for your money. But it’s not for you. It’s not for the very who that you are.

<waits for comments from white people who don’t like being told that something isn’t for them>

Thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda, for this show that is so much more than “just a show.” It reminds me why I love theatre. Theatre can do so many things. It can say things without saying them. It can educate. It can alter thoughts. It can change perspectives. It can change lives.

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2 Responses

  1. Annika says:

    ❤ ❤ ❤ Will and I had that conversation when we first started listening to the cast recording. “This is so amazing and it is not for us but wow it is amazing.” Other white people might be mad about that, but I don’t know how anyone could read about your experience and justify being mad. Please feel free to send any dissenters to me. I’m white and I’m tired of white nonsense.

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