The 2016 election has left many with divided feelings. Each group is left wondering what they have in common and how things went the way they did. The cast of the Broadway musical Hamilton took to the stage to address Mike Pence directly with concerns they had when he went to see their show on November 18, 2016.
“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.” Hamilton actor Brandon Victor Dixon proclaimed to Vice President elect Mike Pence, on that fateful night at the theater.
Mike Pence later made statements praising the Hamilton cast’s use of their freedom of speech. Simultaneously, the president elect lashed out at the Hamilton cast saying it was an attack and that they should apologize.
Hamilton was not the only show voicing their opinion on their stage that night. Only a mere 40 blocks away the production of Party People was also using their freedom of speech to express their concern and frustration post the “election of fake news”.
“Why do you think Donald Trump is the president? This country has never wanted us to be free. After all these years, I live by this: no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, permanent principles.” said the character Amira, who was performed that night by Ramona Keller.
The director of Party People wanted this to be incorporated into their show after the election, because it is important that everyone who feels strongly about the election to stand up for what is right.
The playwright Warren Leight wrote the Union Square Incident after the election. This play is set in a fictional future, where protesters are illegally detained. He said that the play caused a very strong reaction to the audience, who appeared to almost be holding their breaths through the short play. He viewed the play as a warning that we shouldn’t be in denial of what could happen in the future.
George Takei -who is one of the most well-known people to have been in the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II- stated to Buzzfeed News that Trump is wrong about the theater being a “safe space” for people to gather without politics being involved. George Takei is currently promoting his play Allegiance, which is based on his real life experiences in the Japanese-American internment camps. His play and other plays are meant to inspire, disturb, and bring the audience into the story even if it is painful. Takei commented that in Ancient Greece theater was a place people often debated about all sorts of political, cultural and other parts of their society.
The stage will continue to be the place it needs to be for the people involved in the show and those in the audience. The theater is not a safe space for us to ignore everything. It is a place of commentary, open expression, and free creative thought and voice.