The teacher in me burst with happiness upon reading the news: history is happening in Manhattan and some lucky students just happen to be in the greatest city in the world. When I first saw Hamilton, I was completely blown away by the production. As I looked around the theatre, I noticed typical theatergoers — older, middle and upperclass white people. I couldn’t help but think how a show like Hamilton could impact the students I teach back in Brownsville, many of whom have never seen a Broadway show in their life. To see all those Black and brown faces on stage retelling America’s past with how America looks presently in hip hop fashion was mind-blowing and something I thought my students would relate to. And now 20,000 NYC public students just might get their shot.
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, producer Jeffrey Seller, The Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin, NYC Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Gilder Lehrman Executive Director Lesley Herrmann announced an educational partnership that would provide 20,000 NYC public school students with the opportunity to see Hamilton on Broadway and integrate the show into their classroom studies. All of this is made possible through a $1.46 million grant by The Rockefeller Foundation.
This endeavor has been something near and dear to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s heart, as he has been asked by many fans on Twitter and at the stage door how Hamilton can be accessed by more students because it’s frequently sold-out and tickets are expensive. Seller agreed to sell the tickets for $70 each; the foundation will pay $60 toward each ticket and students will be charged $10. The logic behind this idea was having students pay a nominal admission fee would encourage them to take financial responsibility seriously.
Miranda added that, “It is a dream come true to have a program like this exist in connection to Hamilton. I can’t wait to perform for a theater full of students who are learning about our Founding Fathers in class and seeing how it still relates to their own lives on stage. They will see Hamilton’s story, and I’m hopeful that the stories will inspire in them; it will change our lives in ways we can’t even anticipate.”
Seller said that about 17,000 students would attend student-only Wednesday matinees starting April 13, 2016, supplemented by educational programming and meetings with cast members at the theater. Another 3,000 would join regular ticket-buyers at other Wednesday matinees, with the educational component presented back in their classrooms. The educational component will include an interactive website for students and teachers, and printed classroom materials will offer students a creative platform for developing and sharing their original ideas in response to what they’ve seen. The first group of participating high schools will be selected by the New York City Department of Education and will include schools across the five boroughs with large numbers of students eligible for free/reduced lunch.
I cannot stress the importance of something like this. As a teacher who sees first-hand how students easily distance themselves from something that doesn’t “fit” them or relate, an experience like Hamilton has the possibility to bring together both a newfound respect for history as well as theatre and the arts. Who knows, it may inspire some students to go out there and change the world.
Cynthia Erivo Nominated for BAFTA’s Rising Star Award
Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award-winning actress, Cynthia Erivo, known for her transformative performance as Celie in the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple is now one of five actors nominated for the British Academy of Film’s 2019 Rising Star Awards.
Most recently seen alongside Viola Davis in Steve McQueen’s Widows, Erivo says:
“I’m ever grateful to BAFTA and the jury panel for nominating me for the 2019 EE Rising Star Award. It means the world to me to be acknowledged by the community that, for most of my life, I’ve known as home. Thank you for this incredible honour.” – Cynthia Erivo
The BAFTA Awards will take place on February 10th.
Get Your War Clothes On: Billy Porter Energizes in GLAAD Acceptance Speech
So, I have a question.
In the same line of thought as “innocent until proven guilty,” do we grant the assumption of positive intent in our expectations of our brothers and sister in regards to woke-ness, à la woke until proven problematic?
Now don’t get me wrong, there was no doubt in my heart that Tony and Grammy Award-winner, Billy Porter, was woke. Nope, none. What I wasn’t ready for, was the way he fixed his fingers to pen one of the greatest acceptance speeches of my lifetime, and how he turned the Gospel classic “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired” into a battle song.
The 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards honored Billy Porter with the Vito Russo Award, presented to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance.
He started by affirming the room full of members of marginalized communities, with my personal daily mantra: “You are enough. we are enough.”
Since the beginning of time artists are the folks who engage critically and encourage those who think they are powerless to question the status quo.
Brothers and sisters across the room leaned in.
The days of shut up and sing are over.
Alliteration informed and illustrated as Porter preached on remaining “vigilantly visual” as we tell our stories. Acknowledging the reality of our times, he spoke on Number 45:
Where they slipped up this time is in that declaration of war. It’s not only against Black and Brown people and Queer people anymore, it’s against ALL of us. And as a result, the good news is: white folk, and straight folk, and all those fierce women folk, are mad now. And NOW maybe something might get done!
Get. Your. War. Clothes. On.
From slavery to emancipation, to the 13th Amendment, to Jim Crow, to the Civil Rights Movement. From Stonewall to AIDS, to marriage equality— we gotta remember the shoulders who we stand on—the ones who fought and died for those freedoms that we hold so dear. Let’s use these historical strides we’ve made as a nation to empower us as warriors on this battlefield of equality.
Until we can figure out how to love one another unconditionally, no one wins. Freedom. Equality. Justice. Have always come at a cost and evidently the always will.
If that’s not the truth.
Stay strong. Stay vigilante. Stay visible. Stay hopeful. Stay focused. Be brave. Be fierce.
For a full list of this year’s winners, honorees, and guests, visit GLAAD.
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