Saturday, November 19, 2016

An Unfortunate Night at the Theater

By now, you have likely seen or read a report of VP-elect Mike Pence's trip to see Hamilton last evening. There were two moments that deserve comment.

The first is that Pence was booed by some noticeable portion of the crowd in attendance when he arrived. I guess when people pay exorbitant prices for theater tickets, they feel entitled to behave this way.  I don't have more attention than three lines of blogging to offer them.The second is that the cast of the show took time after the production for this impromptu monologue. Both moments are included here:

True confession. My wife picked up the soundtrack for the musical after she saw the show some months ago. (The rest of us are waiting for the ticket prices to come down.) We love the story. We love the music. I suppose we are smart enough to have understood the relevance of the story and music for the world we live in today.

Guess what. Mike Pence is, too. Is there some other reason the cast thinks he showed up last evening? Is there some reason why the cast members of Hamilton think so little of their own talents and artistry, their ability to convey this relevance on the stage, that they have to deliver a sanctimonious monologue at the end? Theater works better when we let the work speak for itself.

If the cast wanted to follow up with the VP-elect, they could do it privately in a way that encourages him to take a second step, not publicly in a way that dissolves the goodwill that should follow from his first step. And if anyone wants to protest and resist the incoming administration, the best advice comes from my MIT classmate, Luigi Zingales, in yesterday's New York Times op-ed, The Right Way to Resist Trump.

Addendum: A similar argument, made with more credibility, from Steven Van Zandt.

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