‘Hamilton’ Duel: Addressing the President-Elect on His Own Blunt Terms

Edward Albee,Donald Trump,Playwright,Twitter,Arthur Miller,Alexander Hamilton

The theater must always be a safe and special place.” When I read that Donald J. Trump had tweeted those words on Saturday morning, my gut response was to wish that the great American playwright Edward Albee had been alive to respond to our president-elect. Not that Mr. Albee, who died in September, would have objected to the “special” part, or not on grounds other than semantic, “special” being a word of such promiscuous overuse these days. But it was Mr. Albee’s credo that theater — or theater as an enduring art, as opposed to an evening’s entertainment — should be anything but safe. I loved him for insisting on that belief, and for consistently acting on it in everything he wrote for the stage. Theater, as the ancient and exalted public forum that Mr. Albee wanted it to be forever, exists to challenge complacency, to make us uncomfortable with our assumptions. It is a place where conversations of momentous moral, philosophical and political significance can and should be initiated. Such exchanges have been started by dramatists as different as Sophocles, Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, Vaclav Havel, David Hare, Tony Kushner and, yes, Mr. Albee. And even when the plays were written decades, if not centuries, ago, the dialogues they began have in many cases never ceased to reverberate. Of course it was a more literal kind of dialogue, one that broke the commonly agreed-upon wall between actors and audience, that antagonized Mr. Trump into a series of admonitory tweets. On Friday night, his vice president-elect, Mike Pence, attended a performance of the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” a historical (and historic) musical that, among other things, makes the case for the United States as a nation founded and shaped by immigrants. [ Donald Trump took to Twitter to demand an apology from the cast of “Hamilton” ] After the final curtain calls that night, Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor who portrays Aaron Burr, stepped forward with a microphone to directly address Mr. Pence, who was leaving the theater. “We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your

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