Over break I had the pleasure of witnessing Hamilton for the first time. The show itself was incredible but the audience made me concerned. In order to obtain my ticket I had to wait in 10 degree weather for well over 4 hours in the cancellation line. By the time my mother and I finally got our chance both of us had no feeling left in our body but, were lucky enough to be offered a pair of seats in the orchestra row F putting us in an ideal viewing spot for the musical. The fact that I was able to spend so long waiting to see this piece of art speaks to my own privilege however you could mark how engaged people were with the show by sections. Unfortunately, with the seats I was sitting in being so expensive, people sitting around me seemed more concerned with the idea of being at Hamilton for bragging rights rather than watching the show itself. There was little to no engagement with the actors while they were performing. One person next to me was constantly on there phone and at intermission had a loud phone conversation about how he was dragged to the show. Multiple people in my row stood up mid first act to run to the bathroom and another just moments into the final song in the act. One of the bathroom goers was also quite drunk and stamped on the foot of the woman sitting next to me on his way out. for a show that has caused such a movement throughout the theatre world it made me wary of the patrons and left a few questions in my head that I do not know how to answer:
1) Can art speak to mass audiences without the “patrons”?
2) What can I do in my own life to not perpetuate this behavior?
3) How were the actors able to give such moving performances when so many of the audience members closest to them were disconnected?
4) What steps can we take to ensure that theatre is brought to people of all socioeconomic standings?