Culture

Get tickets to Hamilton musical in Chicago

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
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Another teacher posts lesson plans for teaching with Farmer Refuted and You’ll Be Back. She asks when art has inspired students to learn more, then describes how Miranda picked up Ron Chernow’s biography and wrote the musical. What’s striking about visiting Hamilton musical in Chicago is that between the story and the music, it has multiple entry points. Every student was engaged in a way that was meaningful to them.


She then does a close reading of the two songs, having students annotate the text and then listen to the music as a class. Discussing tone, character, and clever wordplay, the students learn much about analysis. As she adds:



In our close read of Right Hand Man, students were charged with comparing the George Washington in the song with the legend they know. We considered how rap added to the emotion of the song. Finally, I challenged them to give Washington’s rap a try. The rhythm and rhyme speak directly to the future president’s state of mind, creating an empathy that we rarely feel for this legendary figure. I wanted my students to feel that—and respect the skill required to perform it.



Of course, most students don’t live close to where Hamilton is being performed, and even if they do, it can be unfeasible to arrange a field trip. Still, along with the Broadway Cast Recording, the transcripts are online (at Genius.com and Lyricsondemand.com), and the PBS documentary Hamilton’s America can provide well-filmed clips without the stigma of bootlegs. The school library can even buy and license a copy of the latter.


Rewriting Racism and Sexism To add to the cheek of casting himself as Hamilton, Miranda has cast black actors to play Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lafayette, and Aaron Burr. But it isn’t just cheek, or a way to make history seem contemporary and fresh: Miranda is knitting past and present together, reminding us that, say, the upper Manhattan neighborhood named after Washington is today strongly identified with its Latino population.


In Miranda’s view, the Founders, being revolutionaries, are misfits-grasping, rash, arrogant, foolhardy. It isn’t such a stretch to say that their personalities overlap with those of today’s blustering, cocky rappers, and Miranda’s usage of contemporary musical idioms such as rap makes the story as contemporary and urgent as it was at the time it was happening.


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