I asked myself the question while watching “Hamilton” on television this weekend. It was my second time to see the original cast. The first was in February 2016, where I was sitting alone at the Richard Rodgers Theater, fascinated and defeated.
I looked back at old Facebook memories and apparently posted that day, “They asked Hamilton, ‘Why are you writing like you’re running out of time?’ My response during the intermission of this America possibility show: Because we are. ”
I noticed the few white faces on stage and wondered if they could get a glimpse of what it was like to live the revolution that was “Hamilton”, what it means now and if they could have advice on what it means to be an ally for people of color.
So I turned to Thayne Jasperson, who plays Samuel Seabury – a loyalist to the British crown and rival to Alexander Hamilton – in the film version. Jasperson holds the distinction of being the only original actor still with the show, which, like Broadway, closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus.
I interviewed him by email and edited the conversation for clarity and length.
Let’s go back to the way you ended up in the original cast of “Hamilton”. Did you know that it would be a revolutionary hit for the diversity of the cast?
I had no idea what I was doing when I auditioned and then joined “Hamilton”. I remember the first day and this beautiful new vision of the Founding Fathers portrayed as humans of color.
At the first lab, on the Broadway ramp, I knew it would have an impact on humanity. It just got better from there.
How many white actors were in the original cast and in this version of the film?
On stage, it was two women, me and the king.
Let us explore to be among the “only”. Have you had this experience before “Hamilton?” “
I don’t know if I can fully understand what it means to be a human of color, or try to pretend that my relationships can even compare to the trials of racism.
For me, being “alone” in situations meant growing up in Wyoming and being bullied for my interest in the arts and my softer nature. I had friends and an ex-girlfriend who called me “fagot”. Whether I was or not, the emasculation took effect. I was also raised in a faith where being a bisexual man was not easily accepted.
I learn daily to embrace who I am, in all aspects and to share my voice.
How often was the breed discussed openly at work, behind the scenes, during rehearsals? How did you get involved and what did you learn in this process?
The breed was regularly discussed. I learned that I had become more ignorant than I had imagined. I found myself trying to understand, understand and develop an awareness of how I could support. It’s always a journey. I found my foot in my mouth several times while I was learning.
At the beginning, in 2014, we were in rehearsal. We sat outside for a lunch break and the discussion on racism in its current state followed. I was taken aback to hear how some of my friends, who are kind and loving people, spoke of multiple cases where they were profiled for their skin color while in areas, streets and streets. predominantly white quarters.
With “Hamilton”, I plunged into a whole new world of education: learning what my fellow actors, as human beings of color, are going through.
What weight does it have to be the only original actor still with the show?
I’m the last original actor from “Hamilton” on Broadway. If I am a pioneer in such a powerful show, I feel a duty to share, to learn and to find ways to make the world shine and raise awareness, in all possible ways.
Have you read “White Fragility?” What reading or preparation did you do before or during this role?
I did not have the opportunity to read “White Fragility” in particular, but I did a lot of research on my character, Samuel Seabury. Also, in the six years I spent living and breathing the story of “Hamilton”, I understood why racism is so hard to speak for white men and women.
It’s awkward, yes. It can be uncomfortable and it can be humiliating because we all have so much work to do to close the gap.
Speaking as a white man, I believe that we can begin to dispel racism by opening up conversations within our own communities, whether small or large, even in our own homes.
No effort can be too big or too small for our brothers and sisters. I have as much room to grow on this aspect as on any other.
How is the film version coming out right now in America?
Isn’t that something beautiful ?! The fact that this show can manifest itself on a global scale, impacting the human spirit. Everyone connects to this show in a different way, ideally, leading us to the same goal.
Do you have any ideas about also playing King George III in the show and casting him as white?
For me, playing King George is an opportunity to portray a man with dementia, self-control and self-centered ideals. Opposition to … what we Americans are fighting for: our freedom, for one and for ALL. Together.
How about white people who fear losing their power or importance in the midst of Black Lives Matter?
Do not speak or know about the existence of racism – this delays the progress of equality.
James Baldwin said, “People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them. ”
Such depth to Baldwin’s statement. Now is the perfect time to release the traps and expand our minds to a brighter world.