Pitman Goes to Hamilton 

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Pitman Goes to Hamilton 

Erika Ocegueda (12th), Reporter

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If you haven’t been living under a rock, then you’ve most likely have heard of the hit musical, Hamilton, by Lin Manuel Miranda. Well, amazingly enough, students from Pitman were able to see it; live from the Orpheum! It was all thanks to the Gilder Lehrman Hamilton Education Program, and of course, Mr. Farhadian—the AP Government teacher—who diligently worked hard to apply to the program and made sure that the process went smoothly. 

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History collaborated with the producers of Hamilton, which then created the Hamilton Education Program. This program hopes to enrich the learning of history while at the same time promoting kids to expand upon this learning through creative mediums. 

In case you haven’t heard of it, the musical follows the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamiton—our first Secretary of Treasury (it’s a lot more interesting than you’d think). The play is known for telling his story in a fun way, which makes it relevant and relatable to people today. The exaggeration of characters and events occurs, for the sake of entertainment. Nevertheless, that doesn’t take anything away from the facts incorporated within it. Miranda utilized many source documents to write this play. 

After gaining acceptance into the program, students were required to have a five-day lecture on the source material behind Hamilton, the era, and how the play was created. After such lessons, students were required to produce a creative project in relevance to the time era. Students could pick to make a poem, song, rap, scene, or monologue, in which an in-depth understanding of the subject and source documents were apparent. Finally, after completing the project, students were to present their piece to judges. The best piece would be chosen, and those students would then perform their piece in the Orpheum along with the other chosen students—from other selected schools. 

The project presentations were held in the library, during finals; performances were recorded and judged by a panel of judges—made up of Pitman staff. There was even a journalist from the Turlock Journal. Although there were many appraisable entries, in the end, a rap based on the Bill of Rights that parodied the song “Act Up” by City Girls. The creators were seniors, Mackenzie Bronkin and Sydney Cantwell. 

On Wednesday, January 29th, at 6 A.M, Pitman students headed to San Francisco—on a charter bus, a school bus, and two vans. Arrival time happened at around 9 A.M., shortly after, students headed to the Orpheum. 

Seats were filled with students from different parts of California. There were public schools, private schools, charter schools, and even performing arts schools. The first activity that occurred was the student performances. Up on the stage, (which had the set ready for Hamilton), students performed their chosen piece. I have to say that all performances were done very well and had a lot of thought put into them. Some student performances managed to give me chills. The students from Pitman who performed did an amazing job and I respect them for their ability to do so under the gaze of hundreds of people. 

After the performances, the cast members of Hamilton came out for a quick Q and A. The cast answered questions that students in the program submitted. The cast was friendly and enthusiastic about answering questions. It’s worth mentioning that the cast was widely diverse; this is done by design. Lin Manuel Miranda had created the roles of characters with a diverse cast in mind. Though America may not have looked that way at the time, it looks that way now—casting it this way makes it more relevant and relatable to audiences in this day and age. 

The main event, the play itself, was held after a lunch break. Students sat in assigned seats with their schools. 

And in all honesty, it’s hard to describe it. It was just so…amazing. I never quite got into the Hamilton hype that’s been around for approximately four years now. But now I understand. The play is a nonstop musical, that is to say, that there is not one scene in which singing is not a part of it—it goes from one song to the next with smooth transitions. The visuals, singing, and acting leave the play without a single dull moment. I recommend this play for anyone, even for those not interested in history—it’ll leave you wanting more. 

Julianna Cole, AP Economics student, had previously heard of the play but knew little about it. After watching she said her favorite part about the play was, “…basically any scene with Eliza because she was awesome.”

Sharlien Envieh, on the other hand, loved the choreography,”…they were holding their guns, they were opening their guns, they were opening their hands at the same time! Twelve actors!” 

Overall, the trip was successful. It was an enriching experience both creatively and educationally. I encourage those of you who haven’t seen Hamilton to watch it. You won’t regret it!

 

Special thanks to the Pitman staff who made the trip and program possible–especially Mr. Farhadian. It truly was a once in a lifetime experience.

 

In case you are interested in learning more about the Hamilton Education Program visit:

https://www.gilderlehrman.org/programs-and-events/hamilton-education-program