What are Trump’s intentions for the theater?
January 27, 2017
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Theater. Donald Trump says it’s a place without judgement, but where better a place to criticize and express opinions, no matter how unsavory, than a place constructed for the sharing of art?
Vice President elect Mike Pence’s encounter with the cast of Hamilton, the Broadway hit musical, brought this question into light. After the show, as Pence stood up to leave, Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, directly addressed the vice president; “We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” he said. “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”
Pence later told Fox News that he was not offended by the cast’s comments, and he heard their message loud and clear. President-Elect Donald Trump was not as lenient.
Amidst his busy schedule as our next president, Trump managed to tweet angrily at 5:40 in the morning, not once, but four times. He claimed the Hamilton cast had harassed Pence and should apologize.
“Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s comments struck fear into the hearts of liberals and really anyone who hopes to maintain their right to free speech. If our president cannot withstand the voicing of opinions in a theater, than how can we expect that he will respect the opinions of the people?
We have always believed ourselves to be indubitably protected by our right of free speech, and although we may not want to believe that Trump has the power to change that, many of us did not even believe that he could ever be elected president and look where we are now.
When Trump began his campaign, the liberals of the nation sat back in their camping chairs, mason jars of kombucha in hand, and prepared to watch Trump get trampled in the dirt. But as he marched on, orange hair flapping in the wind, the jokes surrounding his campaign began to diminish as he got closer and closer to the White House.
Our freedom of expression has been a defining characteristic of our nation that has set us apart since the day our constitution was written. How can Trump claim to “make America great again” while making threatening noises towards our beloved constitution?
On the other hand, Trump would not be able to say some of the atrocities that he has uttered without the First Amendment, so who can know for sure what his plan is, or if he has one at all. Trump’s crusade to silence the American people could invade the spaces where we are free to share our opinions.
Another of his tweets commented on the role of the theater: “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”
Trump’s definition of theater is a “safe and special place.” A safe and special place where he and those who support him are spared from criticism and ridicule.
But shouldn’t theater be a place where people’s opinions and views can be expressed without ridicule? A place where regardless of your race, gender, sexuality or religion your opinions are valued and accounted for.
Of course, this includes the dismantling and picking apart of other people’s opinions and beliefs. The cast of Hamilton had every right to say what they said to Pence under our constitution, but also because that is what theater is for. You get to complain, cherish, endorse and criticize to your heart’s content. People may be offended or feel attacked, but we all have to understand that regardless of what side we are on, the audience or the performer, everyone is entitled to their opinions and have the right to express them.
Theater, despite what may occur in our society in the coming years, must be preserved as a safe haven for every single person’s beliefs and opinions.