Luckily, I had been tipped off by a friend in the production regarding what had been planned.
As Brandon Victor Dixon stepped forward and called out Pence, thanking him for attending, and then began his planned statement with “We hope you will hear us out. We, sir…,“ I stood up from my seat in the center of the fourth row, orchestra. I have a very loud voice. I said,
“Excuse me, Mr. Burr, is the show over? Or is this part of the performance?”
“It’s not part of the show, no…now, Mr. Pence…”
“That means we all can leave, right? We aren’t all being held captive while you lecture us, just Mike Pence? Is that what’s happening?”
“Well..I…Yes, yes, you are free to leave. This statement is for the Vice-President Elect. Now, if you’d let me finish…”
“Was he aware that you were going to single him out like this? If not, does that mean that every other audience member that buys a ticket to “Hamilton”—great show, by the way, though I only caught about half the words—should be ready to be singled out and told how to do their jobs by you actors? Are you pleased when you’re grocery shopping or at Home Depot or going to see a movie when the staff there recognizes you and singles you out and tells you how to perform while everyone else stares and listens? I know that Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn take swings at people who do thing like that in the street…”
“No, this is for the Vice-President Elect only! Now if you’d just sit down…”
“I thought you said I could go!”
“You can go! Get lost! We’re trying to speak to the Vice-President elect…”
“You mean he can’t go? What is this, an ambush?”
“No, it’s just a conversation. Now, Mr Pence…”
“Wait, isn’t a conversation a voluntary, two-way give and take? It sure looks like you’re trying to have it both ways, using your platform on stage and your presence as a costumed actor standing over us to give a speech we—okay, Mr. Pence—didn’t bargain for, ask for or consent to, but falsely calling it a conversation.”
“You can call it what you like. Security? Now…where was I? Oh—We hope you will hear us out. We, sir…”
“Well, if it’s a conversation, I should be able to participate, right? I paid for my seat, too, and the show is over. I hope the cast of “Hamilton” hears me out. How can this show justify its obscene ticket prices? I bought this ticket over the summer, and payed over $900 dollars for it. It’s impossible to get even a bad seat for less than a hundred! Talk about elites: how greedy can you get? The show’s already a legendary hit; it’s already made everyone connected with it a ton of money. Why aren’t you lowering prices? Shouldn’t ordinary Americans have a chance to see the show? Live theater is struggling, this musical has important things to say, and you are deliberately limiting the audience to rich people, those with connections, and Vice-Presidents Elect? Do you want kids to play video games, or do you want parents to introduce them to the thrill of live theater?”
“This isn’t about “Hamilton,” this is about the social justice! Vice-President P…”
“What? This is a “Hamilton” performance and the post-show conversation isn’t about “Hamilton”? We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that “Hamilton’s” artists will not protect us, our planet, our children, and our parents from ticket gouging, or defend and uphold our inalienable rights to the pursuit of…”
“Hey, how did you see our statement? Where is security? Wait, where is everybody going? Vice-President Pence…?”
[Voice from the back of the Richard Rogers Theater: “He left, Brandon.”]
“Never mind him, Aaron. Why can’t you and I have a conversation? Here’s another question: you know that as a super successful Broadway show, you can get away with stunts like this, right? So other productions, at all levels, now will think that audience members are legitimately captive targets to be singled out and harangued by cast members from the stage. Why would any elected official come to see any play, now? You know, they could learn a lot from drama…Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, O’Neil, not just this show. How is it in the best interests of the theater or society to make going to the theater a risk? Aaron? Anybody?”
Muttering, the cast left the stage.
Back in this universe, I missed last night’s “Hamilton” incident. I am now on alert, however, and I see a lot of theatrical performances.
Let me be fair and transparent to the cast of any production, anywhere, that I attend, the way the Hamilton cast was not fair to Mike Pence. If your cast tries to ambush and harass any member of an audience I’m in, I swear to you I’m going to be out of my seat and participating in the “conversation” at the top of my theatrically-trained lungs, and I will make those actors look like the pompous, presumptuous, unprofessional and unethical jerks they are.
That’s a promise.
Go ahead, try it!
I want you to try it.