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  • Writer's pictureNancy Willbern, PhD

Collective Shadow: Part 3

Last night, my husband and I watched “Hamilton” on the Disney channel. If you have not seen it, now is the time! It is being offered on TV during the Covid shut-down because the production is not being performed on stage. And... to think you get front row seats!

The finale left me crying and speechless. I was inspired. I was awed. I was informed. I was deeply touched. And truth be told, I was envious of all that creative genius! Who are these people and what are they made of?!

I am sure you are all aware of the uniqueness of this piece of art, but I will point to some things that stand out in bold relief to me, in continuing our conversation on “Shadow Work.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, an American of Puerto Rican descent is a composer, lyricist, actor, singer, rapper, producer and playwright. Miranda wrote the script, wrote the music and wrote the lyrics for the Broadway hit. (Yes, jaw-dropper!) The inspiration for the work came to Miranda while on vacation in 2008, when reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton. What stood out in Miranda’s mind was that Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of American independence was of mixed-race, born out of wedlock, later orphaned and immigrated to this country as a teen-ager - not the traditional, high-brow, white-skinned, powdered wig portrayal we are so used to. The recognition of that humble and tainted beginning became the initial seed for all the creative genius that over the next few years burst into wild and crazy bloom.

  The glorified Founding Fathers are not typically depicted as men of color with questionable heritage, but the truth is that Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of Finance was just that. Miranda took that often obscured fact and expanded it into a modern-day portrayal of the White-washed-traditional story and spray painted it with an eclectic array of extremely talented Brown and Black actors, singers and dancers, hip-hopping and rapping their way around a revolving inlaid stage.

While the pace of it is dizzying, the underlying paradigm shift cannot be missed. The field and background of the origins of our nation are flipped-flopped, exposing all sorts of collectively agreed upon assumptions and breaking open all sorts of unimaginable mutations. The shadow becomes foreground and when it does, new neural pathways are formed in the mind and new songs are heard in the heart.

The repetitive refrain in the final song comes in the form of a poignant and piercing question, “Who lives?… Who dies?… And who tells your story?” That question right there sums the whole thing up.

Would love to hear about your own experience with it. What did it stir in you? Expand your neurons? Make your heart sing?

Image by klimkin on Pixabay - Chess Pawn King Game


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