I love creation stories. From the Bible (“Let there be light”) to the Big Bang (a speck of infinite density suddenly blows up to become our universe). Whether we’re talking about these Big Kahuna stories, or more modest ones, like the creation of art or ideas or revolutions, I find myself fascinated by the creative processes that ultimately bring them to life.

So much so I read books about the making of movies, especially my favorite ones, like “Chinatown,” “Bonnie and Clyde” and “2001.” So much so that after watching the filmed version of “Hamilton” on Disney+ streaming channel I went out and bought this doorstop of a book that chronicles that hyper-successful play’s origins and staging, and includes the entire libretto (lyrics) that I sometimes had a hard time following amid all the complex harmonies and rapid-fire delivery.

I admit being a late convert to the “Hamilton” hysteria. First off, I’m not a big fan of rap music, hip-hop or otherwise. And the concept of color-blind casting gave me pause – would Black and Brown Founding Fathers be credible? Plus, I wasn’t sure I’d live long enough to see it. It cost a fortune for a Broadway seat, and the touring productions sold out in minutes. All this conspired to make me skeptical. I probably wouldn’t like the damn thing anyway, I told myself.

Then I saw it, and it took my head off. My first thought was, How did Lin-Manuel Miranda and his collaborators pull this crazy thing off? Its success seemed as unlikely as Hamilton’s rise to power (starting as a “bastard, orphan, son of a whore”) and the American Revolution it portrayed. I had to know its creation story.

Genius comes in many guises. Einstein realized that space and time were one. Michelangelo saw a timeless David embedded in a block of marble. The creators of “Hamilton” recognized that their lead character was a metaphor for our fledgling nation (“young, scrappy and hungry”). To quote the doorstop book: “…they each tell a story of something unprecedented and implausible becoming real.”

Watching this play, better understanding the motives and passions of our Founding Fathers, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that our country has devolved, rather than evolved, in many ways over our 244-year history. The Founding Fathers were far from perfect: many owned slaves, most of them dismissed even brilliant women as their intellectual inferiors. But compare who they were, and what they accomplished, with some of today’s politicians: narrow-minded, power-mad, weak-willed, bootlicking toadies who haunt the halls of the White House, Congress and many of our state legislatures. It’s enough to make you cry “Revolution!”

Of course, revolutions are a chancy business, and history shows us that most fail miserably. The American Revolution just squeaked by, thanks in large part to the help of the French military, a mad King George, and an exhausted empire an ocean away.

What we need now is a good re-creation story. Perhaps that will be the coronavirus’s silver lining.

— Special to the Telegram


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