Hamilton (2020) by Lin Manuel Miranda

Watching Hamilton, after having heard the soundtrack multiple times over the last two years, was a cathartic experience. I felt all the emotions the songs invoked, but also gained new and better insight into the songs as they were underscored by the beautiful, incredibly talented cast.

I have exhausted my friends by raving about this whole piece and countless articles have been written about the genius of Hamilton. So I will try be concise here and share specifically why I care about this piece so much.

Hamilton tells many stories but it is as Lin Manuel Miranda states, an ode to writers. It captures the internal struggle writers face; the one that integrates self-doubt, fear, ambition and the need to connect and touch people. This is a struggle that I wake up to, all too often. One one side, I know that I need to be patient and keep working. That I need to take smart risks. On the other hand, I wish to go all in, fuck up and try in. Above all else, I just want to chase greatness but at the same time, I want to love, and that feels like it pulls in the opposite direction. Hamilton captures all of this.

Five years ago when I was doing my masters, I had to write my first feature length script and the idea, having never heard ‘Hamilton’ back then, that I came up with was ‘of a writer who will sacrifice everything for his writing’. The script landed up being very poor, as one might expect their first feature script to be. But in my first feature I was obsessed with and tackling the same theme that Hamilton is and so when I saw the play finally, it felt like someone understood me. I am no Alexander Hamilton or Lin Manuel Miranda, but I am a writer and at least on that level, the three of us share the same fears.

Aside from being an ode to writers, it is also a love story, a war story, an underdog story, and a political drama. It is all this and it never misses a beat moving through the web it builds. Thus Hamilton matters to me because it is masterful writing. Not only that, but it is using some of the most common narrative arcs and somehow making them seem fresh. I wept actual tears as Laurens and Phillip’s arcs concluded. I bawled when ‘Burn’ and ‘Who lives, who dies, who tells your story’ played. There is such beauty, power, and truth in these songs that it hurts.

Then there is the fact that it is a hip-hop album with one great track after another. As a lover of the genre, it again strikes the right note with me.

I could talk about how the story makes powerful statements about freedom, justice, equality for all. Or how its arcs around friendship, camaraderie, and love are powerful in part because they are based in fact and in part because they are depicted with such heart but honestly nothing I say does the play justice. I think everyone will enjoy it, it’s just how much that will vary.

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