What I learned from watching Hamilton

Like most of the world, our house has spent the weekend absorbing the theatrical phenomenon that is Hamilton.  Stories are important.

It is certainly an impressive work of theatre.  The music and staging is awesome.  And the central message that Alexander Hamilton (and I challenge you to say that without the musical motif playing in your head) could change the direction of his life through the power of his words is truly inspiring.

Before we get too swept away, I also have a little problem with the stories.  Washington says in the show that you have no control over who tells your story.  That is of course true for the women in the show, who only get to stand centre stage when it moves the story along for the male characters, and for the Black and indigenous people who are not in the show at all.  

I know nothing about American history. I assume Hamilton and the other characters are in here somewhere….

Also, the power of the show is that you feel inspired by these characters and their noble fight, except the show portrays most of the characters as abolitionists when in fact we suspect most of them owned people.  Is it right to make Black actors dress like slavers?

This was my main problem (and possibly the real learning): a powerful story made me fall in love with these characters against my will and despite me knowing about their serious flaws, I still care deeply for them for the connection we have made through their masterfully (no pun intended) told story.

Hamilton changed his life through his words and Lin-Manuel Miranda has touched millions of lives through the story he has told.  In a smaller way, I worked with a coachee this week who wanted to develop their resilience.  As we worked through, it became apparent that resilience to her meant being able to reframe difficult circumstances to be positive for various audiences she needed to connect with.

We live our lives as narratives, but we can own and shape those narratives.

Even the worst things in the world can become part of our story of growth. Story telling isn’t just for Broadway.

  • First published on www.mamfitness.co.uk