Hamilton race), however, within the show, as are

  Hamilton (2016), with book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda is, fundamentally, a story of ‘America then, told by America now.’ (Miranda, 2015). Throughout the show, America, and the national identity of its people, is shown in a way we have come to expect. It represents freedom, the American dream, patriotism, and most importantly; independence. The narrative of Alexander Hamilton and the American revolution is told, however, in a way we have not come to expect; by people of colour, who have long been erased from the narrative. In a political climate which has lead to American identity accepting racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and other hateful rhetorics, Hamilton rejects many of these structures within modern America, and allows the people within its society who are affected by these negative social structures to connect to their history. Therefore, a positive identity of America in the late 18th to the early 19th century, as well as the identity of modern day USA, continuously and clearly manifests throughout this musical, whilst simultaneously striving to keep inclusivity and connection at the forefront. One of the key ways in which elements of American identity is shown is through the idea of the immigrant within the story of the musical, as ‘Immigrants are essential to the narrative, not just of the musical, but of America itself. To foreground immigrant experiences in this way is bound to resonate with contemporary immigrants and people of color, who are often left out of historical narratives completely’ (Adema, 2016). This is told through creative elements within the show such as lyrics, set design, costume and casting.    Although set over two-hundred years ago, the story of Hamilton which Miranda has created, is easily mirrored in the society of today, and eliminates ‘any distance between a contemporary audience and this story.’ (Kail, 2017).  Most prominently, this is shown through the immigrant characters of the Caribbean-born titular character, Alexander Hamilton, and the French-born military leader Marquis de Lafayette. Historically, both men were white (although there is some uncertainty around Hamilton’s race), however, within the show, as are the large majority of the cast, the characters are played by people of colour. This is a vital part of the telling of this story within the musical, as ‘Choosing to cast the founders of our country as people of color may not be “historically” accurate, but it is culturally accurate as a reflection of a 21st century nation built by immigrants.’ (Quiñónez, 2015). Hamilton is shown repeatedly as someone who has started with nothing and, through a constant fight, has become successful. This is shown through lyrics ‘How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a / Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten / Spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor / Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?'(2016). In contrast to Hamilton, Lafayette was born into a noble and wealthy family. Lyrically however, Hamilton’s affluence and intellectual dominance is shown from the very start of the first act, and continues to be shown to the very end of the show. Miranda’s use of rap and hip-hop throughout, and especially in using it as a voice for Alexander himself, does this. Rap allows Hamilton to use complicated rhymes and rhythms when discussing and expressing his ideas and hopes for himself and the nation, which not only gives him agency within the piece when pitted up against characters such as Jefferson, who’s main solo ‘What’d I Miss’ has a strong jazz feel to it, highlighting his old-fashioned ideals, but it also continues to bridge the gap between the contemporary and the historical. This is exemplified by Daveed Diggs, Hamilton’s original Lafayette/Jefferson, who stated that ‘Rap is the voice of the people of our generation, and of people of color, and just the fact that it exists in this piece, and is not commented upon, gives us a sense of ownership’ (2015). To contrast Hamilton being presented as using a sophisticated level of language skills from ‘Aaron Burr, Sir’ to the end of the show, Lafayette is first presented in the same song as using very basic rap, and most of his verse is spoken in French. However, throughout the first act Lafayette’s English skills progress until he has arguably the most advanced, or at least the quickest, rap verse within the show, during the song ‘Guns and Ships.’ It is, however, important to look at how in this rap, Lafayette uses no French at all, which highlights how it was necessary, much as it is still in today’s America, for immigrants to use English if they wish to fit in with people born within the country, despite English being the language of the immigrants who colonised America three-hundred years prior to the revolution. This therefore creates two mirroring images of immigrants in America; one who has no financial agency but is able to use his intelligence and the use of the English language to ‘rise up’, and another who is extremely wealthy, but does not completely fit into his new surroundings due to the language barrier.   Between the two immigrant characters, Hamilton is viewed most negatively by other characters, most specifically his lifelong rival; Aaron Burr. In the opening verse of many of the songs throughout both acts Burr comments on Hamilton’s unconventional background, repeating the line ‘How does the bastard, orphan, son of a whore’ (2016). The word ‘Bastard’, historically being used by President John Adams in reference to Hamilton, holds extremely negative connotations. Again showing his scorn, within the song ‘A Winter’s Ball’, Burr calls Hamilton an ‘obnoxious, arrogant, loudmouth bother.’ This proves however, only to be an opinion he holds in regards to Hamilton, as in ‘Guns and Ships’, Burr, in reference to Lafayette, sings the lyrics ‘Turns out we have a secret weapon! / An immigrant you know and love who’s unafraid to step in! / He’s constantly confusin’, confoundin’ the British henchmen / Ev’ryone give it up for America’s favourite fighting Frenchman!’. These are particularly interesting lyrics within such a modern show, as it implies that immigrants are only valid within America when they are English speaking and contributing to the growth and success of the country, something which is especially still prevalent in politics in 21st Century America. Also, this is important as it shows that ‘immigrants have been present and necessary since the founding of our country’ (Miranda, 2015). Both characters therefore show ideas of individualism and personal progress in order to be more accepted into American society through the Bootstrap Narrative, an important part of the American national identity.   Many other parts of American identity are shown throughout this musical. Prosperity and growth are reflected in the set, designed by David Korins. These elements also help to eliminate the distance between the modern audience and the modern story of America, and the historical characters and the historical story. The set on which this show takes place, on the surface is very simplistic, but adds a lot to the story. The era of the story is more clearly indicated through the props, rather than relying on the main set design allows the narrative to transcend time, and be relatable in all contexts. The image of growth is shown very literally through the set, as during ‘intermission, … eight additional feet of wall are slipped atop the existing bricks. “It’s a subtle idea, to show the progress of building the nation”’ (Yaeger, Korins, 2016). The prosperity of the characters and their land is displayed by the use of ropes and iron fixtures built into the set, which ‘evoke the shipbuilding—and nation-building—of eighteenth-century New York City.’   Not only is prosperity this shown through set, but also through costume, designed by Paul Tazewell. ‘One of the few directives that Lin-Manuel Miranda gave to designer Paul Tazewell about his costume for Alexander Hamilton was that he be represented in green — because “green is the color of money” and thus appropriate for the first secretary of the Treasury.’ (Pacheco, 2016). As well as creating images of success, the base parchment coloured costume, most often worn by the ensemble, but also worn by the whole cast in the opening and closing number, creates unity and a base for growth, which is at the very heart of the story.   Finally, the element of the show which has the most impact on the telling of the story is the casting of people of colour in roles which would typically be reserved for white actors, and, ‘by casting actors of colour in roles previously reserved for white performers, Miranda tells us that the American national identity has changed.’ (Lui, 2017). This casting allows people who feel seperated from the story of the birth of their country to have a voice within the narrative. It shows that America’s history, along with its present, is not exclusively white, and never has been. As said by Hamilton’s original Washington, Christopher Jackson; “By having a multicultural cast, it gives us, as actors of color, the chance to provide an additional context just by our presence on stage, filling these characters up.” (2015).   In conclusion, Hamilton serves as an exemplary piece of modern theatre which allows the identity of America to be portrayed in a more accessible and truthful way for all audiences to relate to, American or otherwise, as ‘patriotism in Hamilton is not viewed as a scourge on decent politics. Instead, it is presented as a message of inclusion and acceptance, that no matter your race or religion you can participate in this exercise of progressive patriotism’ (Lui, 2017).

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