On civility, risk, and the demonization of dissent.
Maxime Dethomas, set design sketch for Les abeilles, 1917.
I’m using this fifth installment of my opera column to offer a primer on theater, protest, and safety, by people who actually know about theater.
As you’ve likely heard, at the November 18 evening performance of the musical Hamilton, Mike Pence was booed (and also cheered) by members of the audience. After the show, the cast assembled onstage to address him with a statement written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and read by the performer Brandon Victor Dixon. He said, in part, “We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”
Donald Trump tweeted his reactions, writing in one message, “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”
#BoycottHamilton trended on Twitter on Saturday. We witnessed the absurd spectacle of an incoming administration that threatens every kind of safety for marginalized people, yet demands an antiharassment safe space. Of one elected leader’s turning his back on a diverse group of Americans politely requesting protection and dialogue, and another’s attacking them. Although these Hamilton tweets are possibly a ploy by Trump to distract attention from the Trump University settlement, his reaction to the Hamilton incident is important: it’s about weaponizing the discourse of civility and respectability against the people who stand to lose the most in the next four years.
I asked for responses from playwrights, performers, directors, and scholars who belong to artistic and academic communities that are all endangered by the Trump presidency. Here are their answers, in alphabetical order by first name, with their own descriptors. Read More