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Historians Worried 'Hamilton' Isn't Woke Enough Pen 'Response Play'

A group of historians believe Lin-Manuel Miranda's now-famous musical, "Hamilton," simply isn't woke enough, and they've penned a play in response which they believe will help "educate" the Broadway star about the Founding Father he white-washed.

A University of California Berkeley professor says it's now his mission to battle the cultural forces of Miranda's popular "Hamilton" musical, which has had a record-breaking run on Broadway and is now touring cities internationally. Miranda's version of the Founding Father — though very "woke" in its own right — glazes over the historical Hamilton's more "problematic" aspects, according to an interview in the Chicago Tribune.

Professor Ishmael Reed's new play, "The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda," is, he says, a "take down" of Miranda's historical hero.

The work, the Tribune says, "is an uncompromising take-down of 'Hamilton,' reminding viewers of the Founding Father's complicity in slavery and his war on Native Americans."

"My goal is that this be a counter-narrative to the text that has been distributed to thousands of students throughout the country," Reed added.

Miranda has admitted that his Alexander Hamilton, a portrayal based on Ron Chernow's best-selling biography, is a partially fictional character, and that his score takes significant liberties with Hamilton's background, filling in the blanks in Hamilton's past and editing Hamilton's trials and tribulations down to what can fit in a 2.5-hour Broadway production.

To help fans of the show get a clearer idea of Alexander Hamilton's life, producers of "Hamilton" have coordinated a traveling museum exhibit on the life and times of the real Hamilton, which will follow the show's traveling company across the country. The exhibit will open first in Chicago next month.

But Reed argues that "Miranda got Hamilton all wrong — the Founding Father wasn't progressive at all, his actual role as a slave owner has been whitewashed and the pro-immigrant figure onstage hides the fact that he was, in fact, an anti-immigration elitist," and that Miranda's portrayal is actually dangerous in that it elevates a historical figure who should be despised to a position of relevance and respect.

In his version, Reed has the ghosts of Native Americans, slaves, and and indentured servants visit Miranda and biographer Ron Chernow in the style of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" to correct the record on the Founding Father. Reed takes aim not just at Hamilton, but at the Schyler family, which Hamilton marries into, and accuses Miranda and Chernow of running a "good hustle" to hide what one Reed-supportive historian termed, "the white supremacist origins of our country."

Reed's play has been read a handful of times in off-off-Broadway theaters, and he hopes to bring the show to a more public location soon.

 
 
 

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