Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tyler Cowen Calls the Broadway Play "Hamilton" A Quality Production

Cowen writes:
I was surprised by the consistent level of quality in the production.  It runs for about 2 hours, 20 minutes, with hardly any slow musical moments — how many pop or rap albums can say the same?

I do not agree with those who see it as too authoritarian or too glorifying of raw ambition and war.  In my read of the piece, it is “crazy” King George III who speaks the truth about politics.  The main plot of course has non-white characters in the roles of Founding Fathers.  I view this as an imaginary history, to be compared against what actually happened, to illustrate just how far America is from having an actual emancipatory history.  At the same time, America is the country where people tell such imaginary stories about emancipatory histories, a sign that we are not entirely hopeless.  Yet when it comes to “who is in the room,” and “who gets to tell the story” — two recurring themes — the outcomes have been less than ideal.  I saw Hamilton as a piece about shattered dreams and yet picking up the pieces yet again.

It is striking how good a job Hamilton does at appealing to viewers of all different levels of education and information.
 Emancipatory history?



  1. It is a quality production in terms of script, songs, set, voices, etc.

    But it has become a glorification of Hamilton himself. School groups have rushed to go, perhaps because it performs a "social justice" function of having non-whites play white characters, or perhaps because Hamilton is seen as some sort of philosophical knight whose views fit in with the history and government studies taught in government-approved school curricula (which, by the way, probably don't mention that Hamilton had slaves in his household in New York).

  2. Hamilton was a phenomenal production. While it's probably too subtle to the casual observer, Hamilton does become a villain in the 2nd act and there is some negative themes.

    For example, Thomas Jefferson is introduced as an opponent to Hamilton with the line "someone's gotta keep the American promise."

    At the beginning of "Battle of Yorktown", Hamilton promises to Lafayette that he will stand by him when he attempts to liberate France, then later convinces Washington to not offer support during "Cabinet Battle 2."

    In both Cabinet Battles, Hamilton resorts to ad hominum attacks rather than arguments.