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Feature: Lin-Manuel Miranda on The Atlantic on What Art Can Do
Nov 9, 2019
Feature

Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote an editorial for The Atlantic. Read it below.

The Role of the Artist in the Age of Trump

And the power of stories that are unshakably true

All art is political. In tense, fractious times—like our current moment—all art is political. But even during those times when politics and the future of our country itself are not the source of constant worry and anxiety, art is still political. Art lives in the world, and we exist in the world, and we cannot create honest work about the world in which we live without reflecting it. If the work tells the truth, it will live on.

Public Enemy’s “911 Is a Joke,” George Orwell’s 1984, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s whole damn catalog—all are political works that tell the truth.

Yes, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Consider The Sound of Music. It isn’t just about climbing mountains and fording streams. Look beyond the adorable von Trapp children: It’s about the looming existential threat of Nazism. No longer relevant? A GIF of Captain von Trapp tearing up a Nazi flag is something we see 10 times a day on Twitter, because all sorts of Nazis are out there again in 2019. As last spring’s searing Broadway revival of Oklahoma! revealed, lying underneath Hammerstein’s elephant-eye-high corn and chirping birds is a lawless society becoming itself, bending its rules and procedures based on who is considered part of the community (Curly) and who is marginalized (poor Jud … seriously, poor Jud). Or consider your parents’ favorite, South Pacific. At its center, our hero, Nellie Forbush, must confront her own internalized racism when she learns that the new love of her life has biracial children from a previous marriage. Let your parents know if they forgot: Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals form the spine of Broadway’s “golden age,” and they also deeply engage with the politics of their era.

My first Broadway musical, In the Heights, is an example of how time can reveal the politics inherent within a piece of art. When I began writing this musical, as a college project at Wesleyan University, it was an 80-minute collegiate love story with a promising mix of Latin music and hip-hop, but it was pretty sophomoric (which is appropriate; I was a sophomore). After college, I started from scratch with the director Thomas Kail and the playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, and we shifted the show’s focus from the love story to Washington Heights, a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan where everyone is from everywhere. In the 20th century, Washington Heights was often home to the latest wave of immigrants. It was an Irish neighborhood; it was a Russian Jewish neighborhood (Yeshiva University is up there). If you take the Dominican store sign down you’ll see a sign for an Irish pub underneath it, and if you take that down you’ll find Hebrew. Washington Heights was heavily Dominican when I was growing up, and it remains so, with a vibrant Mexican and Latin American immigrant community as well.

As we wrote about this Upper Manhattan community on the verge of change, we looked to our musical-theater forebears. In Cabaret, the upheaval facing the characters in Berlin is the rise of the Nazi Party. In Fiddler on the Roof, the town of Anatevka struggles to hold on to its traditions as the world changes around it, and the threat of pogroms looms. For our musical world, upheaval comes in the form of gentrification. This is obviously different from fascism and pogroms; it’s not even in the same moral universe. How you begin to dramatize something as subtle and multifaceted as gentrification poses some tricky questions. We threw our characters into the same dilemma faced by their real-life working-class counterparts: What do we do when we can’t afford to live in the place we’ve lived all our lives, especially when we are the ones who make the neighborhood special and attractive to others? Each of the characters confronts this question differently: One sacrifices the family business to ensure his child’s educational future. Another relocates to the less expensive Bronx. Our narrator decides to stay, despite the odds, taking on the responsibility of telling this neighborhood’s stories and carrying on its traditions.

We received great reviews. If critics had a common criticism, it was that the show, its contemporary music aside, was somehow old-fashioned or “sentimental.” Gentrification, the businesses closing, the literal powerlessness as the characters face a blackout that affects only their neighborhood—these issues, always there in the material, didn’t register with most theater critics in 2008. In the Heights was considered a hit by Broadway standards. It didn’t leap off the Arts page and into the national conversation like Hamilton would, but we won some Tonys, recouped our investment, and had a wonderful three-year run at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, where Hamilton now lives. We posted our Broadway closing notice at the end of 2010.

What a difference 10 years makes.

Right now, Jon M. Chu is editing his feature-film adaptation of In the Heights, which is scheduled to be released in June. We spent a joyous summer shooting the film—on location, in our neighborhood—and issues that were always inherent in the text now stand out in bold-faced type. Gentrification has rendered Lower Manhattan, Harlem, and much of Brooklyn unrecognizable to the previous generations that called those neighborhoods home. The East Village of Jonathan Larson’s Rent is nonexistent, lettered avenues notwithstanding. And the narrative of immigrants coming to this country and making a better life for themselves—the backdrop of everything that happens in In the Heights, across three generations of stories—is somehow a radical narrative now.

Donald Trump came down the escalator to declare his presidential run, and in his first speech he demonized Mexicans: They’re rapists; they’re bringing drugs; they’re not sending their best people. We young Latinos had thought of our parents and grandparents as the latest wave making its home in this country, and we thought that we would be the next group to make this place a better place, to prove once again that the American dream wasn’t just a figment of some propagandist’s imagination. And now we’re in a different age when, for some, considering an immigrant a human being is a radical political act.

Consider this rap, written 12 years ago and delivered by Sonny, In the Heights’ youngest character, in a song called “96,000”:

“Your kids are living without a good edumacation,
Change the station, teach ’em about gentrification,
The rent is escalatin’
The rich are penetratin’
We pay our corporations when we should be demonstratin’
What about immigration?
Politicians be hatin’
Racism in this nation’s gone from latent to blatant”

It was always political. It was always there. Donald Trump made it even more true.

Trump uses language to destroy empathy. He criminalizes the impulse and imperative to seek asylum, to seek a place to live thousands of miles away because the alternative at home is worse. Through his lens, these seekers are not people; they’re “animals” or “bad hombres.”

What artists can do is bring stories to the table that are unshakably true—the sort of stories that, once you’ve heard them, won’t let you return to what you thought before. I think about the crisis on the border constantly. I think about the famous photograph of a little girl crying beside a Border Patrol truck. That picture went viral because it seemed to capture the horror of family separations. But it turned out that the girl wasn’t being separated from her mother—her mother had simply been ordered to put her daughter down while she was searched by agents. The family was in distress, and the border crisis was real, but people used the details of this particular incident to close themselves off from empathy. “Fake news,” they said. A child is crying for her mother, but that’s not enough to keep people from pushing empathy away. I believe great art is like bypass surgery. It allows us to go around all of the psychological distancing mechanisms that turn people cold to the most vulnerable among us.

At the end of the day, our job as artists is to tell the truth as we see it. If telling the truth is an inherently political act, so be it. Times may change and politics may change, but if we do our best to tell the truth as specifically as possible, time will reveal those truths and reverberate beyond the era in which we created them. We keep revisiting Shakespeare’s Macbeth because ruthless political ambition does not belong to any particular era. We keep listening to Public Enemy because systemic racism continues to rain tragedy on communities of color. We read Orwell’s 1984 and shiver at its diagnosis of doublethink, which we see coming out of the White House at this moment. And we listen to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, as Lieutenant Cable sings about racism, “You’ve got to be carefully taught.” It’s all art. It’s all political.

Coverage: Lin-Manuel Miranda at 2019 Fast Company Innovation Festival
Nov 9, 2019
Gallery Update / Interview / Public Appearances / Video

On November, 8 Lin-Manuel Miranda spoke on stage at the “Stories to Tell: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Elizabeth Rutledge in Conversation” panel at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York. During the panel, he talked about Hamilton, his ties with American Express, the movie In The Heights, and gave some updates on the Drama Book Shop.

Check all the pictures in HQ in our Gallery.

In the video below, Miranda discusses how ‘Hamilton’ has changed his career.

Watch the video HERE.

Under the cut, read more reports from the panel.

News: Lin-Manuel Miranda unveils Google Arts & Culture exhibition of Puerto Rico’s art
Nov 8, 2019
News / Stills/Screencaptures / Video

On Thursday November, 7 Lin-Manuel Miranda helped Google Arts & Culture to unveil an online exhibition that features work from four Puerto Rico art institutions.

To Associated Press, Miranda said:

It’s a flare out to the world that there’s incredible art here. There’s no reason why Puerto Rican art should not be seen on the same stage as the Louvre, the Met and all the incredible other places where Google has come with its cameras to digitize the artwork.

To present the exhibition, Google Arts & Culture releazed a video in which Lin-Manuel reads a poem dedicated to Puerto Rico, written by Lemon Andersen.

Check the video below and the screen captures in Gallery.

Coverage: Lin-Manuel Miranda joins “Fiesta de Popolo” in Vega Alta
Nov 8, 2019
Gallery Update / Public Appearances / Video

On November, 5 Lin-Manuel Miranda was in Puerto Rico, where he joined the celebration of “Fiesta de Pueblo.” He watched the show and danced with Grupo Cimiento de Puerto Rico.

Check the pictures in HQ in our Gallery and below watch the video of the celebration.

Video: A message from the When We All Vote co-chairs
Nov 7, 2019
News / Video

Lin-Manuel Miranda joined once again Michelle Obama for a campaign of When We All Vote.

Check the video below.

News: Lin-Manuel Miranda will co-chair the MET Gala 2020
Nov 7, 2019
News

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute announces that its 2020 theme will be “About Time: Fashion and Duration.” The MET hosts a Gala every year, to open the exhibition and Lin-Manuel Miranda will be among the co-chairs of the 2020 event with Nicolas Ghesquière, Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, and Anna Wintour. The Gala will take place on Monday, May 4.

Read more about the exhibition below.

VOGUE: Twenty twenty is a milestone year for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The New York institution will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a series of exhibitions, many of which put the spotlight on the masterworks in its collections, as well as new acquisitions made as part of the 2020 Collections Initiative in honor of the anniversary. In keeping with the year’s theme, today the Met announces that the Costume Institute’s spring exhibition will showcase a century-and-a-half of fashion history culled from its archive and presented along a “disruptive” timeline. “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” says Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, takes a “nuanced and open-ended” approach. “It’s a reimagining of fashion history that’s fragmented, discontinuous, and heterogeneous.”

Bolton found inspiration for the exhibition in the 1992 Sally Potter film Orlando, which was based on the time-traveling Virginia Woolf novel of the same name. “There’s a wonderful scene,” he says, “in which Tilda Swinton enters the maze in an 18th century woman’s robe à la Francaise, and as she runs through it her clothes change to mid-19th century dress, and she re-emerges in 1850s England. That’s where the original idea came from.”

Virginia Woolf acts as the show’s “ghost narrator,” with quotes from her time-based books including OrlandoMrs. Dalloway, and To the Lighthouse appearing throughout the exhibition, not unlike Susan Sontag’s quotes guided viewers through this year’s “Camp: Notes on Fashion” show. The philosopher Henri Bergson, whose concept of la durée—time that flows, accumulates, and is indivisible—also provided some of the show’s framework. In addition, Michael Cunningham, whose novel The Hours, a postmodernist reading of Mrs. Dalloway, won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize, will contribute a short story to the exhibition’s catalogue. “What I like about Woolf’s version of time is the idea of a continuum,” Bolton says. “There’s no beginning, middle, or end. It’s one big fat middle. I always felt the same about fashion. Fashion is the present.”

It’s human nature to compartmentalize, to, as Bolton says, “look back at history with homogenous eyes.” Indeed, in a video clip shown at Karl Lagerfeld’s memorial in June, Lagerfeld said: “Clothes are the first thing you think of when you imagine an era—you think of pannier dresses when you say the 18th century, before architecture or anything else.” Bolton’s mission with “About Time” is to challenge and complicate this tendency, and to get us to think differently about fashion history. To do so, he will divide the 160 women’s garments in the exhibition into two sections or “timescales.” The first is a linear timeline of black looks. “It’s a very rational, regulated chronology of fashion from 1870 to 2020, the timescale of modernity,” Bolton explains. The second grouping presents what the curator describes as counter-chronologies, mostly in white ensembles, though there is also likely to be bursts of color in places. “You can see them as folds in time,” he says.

In a press release, Max Hollein, director of the Met, elaborated on the concept: “This exhibition will consider the ephemeral nature of fashion, employing flashbacks and fast-forwards to reveal how it can be both linear and cyclical.” Bolton will highlight a variety of “folds in time.” They could include comparisons between two designers of different eras, like Alaïa‎ and Vionnet or Poiret and Galliano. “Or it might be juxtapositions between two designers from a certain period who were competitive, and one survived and one didn’t,” like “Chanel and Patou in the ’20s and Rei Kawakubo and Georgina Godley in the ’80s.”

It’s useful to think of these “counter-chronologies” or “folds” as connections. Bolton makes them across shape, motif, material, pattern, technique, and decoration. Among his favorites: the relationship between a black silk faille princess-line dress from the late 1870s and an Alexander McQueen “Bumster” skirt from 1995. “Over the years, McQueen continually worked with this elongated silhouette—the princess line basically—and I’ve always felt that the bumster was the most radical version of the way he achieved it.” He continues: “What the dual timelines try to unravel is that tension in fashion between change and endurance, and transience and permanence.” Ultimately, I think it advocates for a slowing down of fashion.”

The exhibition, which will be presented in the Met Fifth Avenue’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, will be made possible by Louis Vuitton. Bolton is working with Es Devlin, the visual artist and stage designer, on the exhibition design. “I’ve long admired her work and wanted to collaborate with her,” he says. “This theme seemed most suitable for her, she’s done several of what she calls mirror mazes and she often refers to the complexity of time with her design process.” The co-chairs for the gala on Monday, May 4 will be Nicolas Ghesquière, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, and Anna Wintour.

“About Time: Fashion and Duration” will be on view at the Costume Institute from May 7 through September 7, 2020.

News: Andrew Garfield To Star In Lin-Manuel Miranda Netflix Adaptation of ‘Tick, Tick…Boom!’
Nov 5, 2019
Movie Projects / News

Lin-Manuel Miranda has tapped Andrew Garfield to star in his feature-film directorial debut for Netflix, Tick, Tick…Boom! And Vanessa Hudgens, Alexandra Shipp, and Robin de Jesus are being announced as new cast members, but their roles are still unknown. The film is based on the off-Broadway semi-autobiographical story about playwright Jonathan Larson.

[EDIT] According to Vulture, Alexandra Shipp will play Susan, Jon’s girlfriend.

DEADLINE: Lin-Manuel Miranda has set Andrew Garfield to star in tick, tick…Boom! Miranda makes his feature directorial debut for Netflix on the adaptation of the autobiographical off-Broadway show written by Jonathan Larson, who shortly after went on to write the Pulitzer-winning musical Rent. Larson died tragically the night before the show’s first preview performance, before the show became a sensation.

Imagine Entertainment principals Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are producing with Imagine’s Julie Oh, and Miranda. Steven Levenson, the Dear Evan Hanson playwright who wrote Fosse/Verdon, is adapting the script from Larson’s original stage show. Julie Larson, Levenson and Celia Costas are the exec producers.

Garfield is essentially playing Larson in a musical about the young playwright’s towering ambition. Garfield will play Jon, an aspiring theater composer who waits tables in New York City while writing Superbia, which he hopes will be the great American musical that will finally give him his big career break. The young man is feeling pressure from his girlfriend Susan, who is tired of continuing to put her life on hold for Jon’s career aspiration. Meanwhile, Jon’s best friend and roommate Michael has given up on his creative dream and has taken a high paying advertising job on Madison Avenue and is preparing to move out. As Jon approaches his 30th birthday, he is overcome with anxiety, wondering if his own impossible dream is worth the cost.

The autobiographical show was certainly prescient, as Larson posthumously won three Tony Awards for Rent, a show that enjoyed  a dozen year run to become the 11th longest running show in Broadway history. When Miranda won his Pulitzer for Hamilton, he and Larson became two of only nine creators of stage musicals who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Lin-Manuel Miranda is bolstering his directorial debut tick, tick… BOOM! with Vanessa Hudgens, Alexandra Shipp and Robin de Jesus coming on board, Netflix announced Monday.

Radio: Lin-Manuel Miranda on BBC Radio 2 Steve Wright’s Big Guests
Nov 3, 2019
Audio / Interview

To On November, 1 BBC Radio 2 released an interview to Lin-Manuel Miranda on its program Steve Wright’s Big Guests, where the artist discussed Hamilton and his role in His Dark Materials. Listen HERE.

Plus, under the cut you can find a new interview Miranda gave to the BBC News.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is the man behind the most popular musical of the past decade, Hamilton.
The hip hop-based show, which tells the story of Alexander Hamilton – one of the founding fathers of the United States – has been a smash hit around the globe.
In the almost five years since it made its debut, Lin’s acting career has also taken-off with a role in Mary Poppins Returns in 2018 with Emily Blunt.
Now, his latest project sees him delve into some of his favourite books, His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman.
Lin plays Texan aeronaut and adventurer, Lee Scoresby, in the TV adaptation of the fantastical trilogy which starts on BBC One on Sunday.
The eight-part series is based on the first of Pullman’s best-selling novels, Northern Lights. It tells the story a young orphan, Lyra Belacqua, who lives in a parallel universe where kids are going missing and everyone has a spirit animal or dæmon, as they are called.
“I love those books,” Lin explains.
“My wife and I read them together when we were first dating – they were the books we fell in love to.
“I love living inside that world.”

His Dark Materials consists of three novels; Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. They’ve been translated into 40 languages and sold close to 18 million copies worldwide.
Lin thinks the author’s imagination is the key to why the books are so successful.
“On the surface level it is so fun, what would your soul look like if it were an animal?” he says.
“I think we connect with Lyra’s coming of age story because she is always trying to do the right thing.
“In no other universe could armoured bears, a Texan aeronaut and people with animal souls co-exist but because Philip Pullman is such a skilled writer it all hangs together.

A film adaptation starring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman in 2007 was seen as a flop with disappointing box office takings and no sequels were made.
But Lin says he has no such worries about this version.
“I think what is exciting is that with the TV series we have the luxury of time,” he explains.
“We get to dig deeper on everything, on the themes and on the adventure.”
The cast also includes X-Men star James McAvoy as Lyra’s uncle, Lord Asriel, and Ruth Wilson (best known as the twisted killer Alice in Luther) as the enchanting but sinister Mrs Coulter.
“Ruth [Wilson] is genius casting,” he tells us.
“Mrs Coulter flies off the page because she is all these things but she is also fearsome – she has got it all.”

For his spirit animal, Lin would pick an internet sensation – “Pizza Rat”.
“There was a video that went viral a couple of years ago of a determined rat pulling a slice of pizza in to a New York City subway tunnel.
“Everyone was like ‘aren’t we all pizza rat?’ I would hope that my daemon is that scrappy and that resilient.”

Lin is a very busy man, perhaps the busiest in showbiz?
He argues that title surely goes to that other multi-talented star – Donald Glover – but we’re not so sure.
His other projects currently include composing songs for the live-action remake of Disney Classic, The Little Mermaid, which is due out in 2020.
It was the story of rebellious mermaid, Ariel – first released in 1989 – that Lin says ignited his passion for musical theatre and acting. He was only nine when he first watched it.
“The Little Mermaid is probably responsible for the fact that I am even sitting here talking to you,” he reveals.
“It was the first musical I saw and it lit up my brain.”
“To get to write songs [for the film] is daunting but incredibly fun.
“I think I would be more intimidated if it wasn’t The Little Mermaid, as I know the score to the film better than I know my own shows.”

As well as His Dark Materials and The Little Mermaid, there is the question of when there might be a film adaptation of Hamilton?
“Well,” he begins, “we filmed a movie of the live show the week before I left the production in 2016.

“It’s been edited and we are just trying to figure out when is the right time to release that. I think that will have a theatrical release before there is a movie adaptation of the show.
“I am proud of the fact that I worked seven years on a piece of theatre, I would like it to be seen in that form by as many people as possible.”

Video: Lin-Manuel Miranda on Bringing Lee Scoresby to Life in His Dark Materials
Nov 1, 2019
Interview / Television Projects / Video

HBO shared a series of videos of the actors of the main characters of His Dark Materials introducing their character. The videos also include new scenes never seen before.

Watch Miranda’s video below and Dafne Keen’s, in which she describes Lyra’s relationships with the other characters, including Lee Scoresby.

Video: Adapting His Dark Materials
Oct 31, 2019
Interview / Television Projects / Video

BBC shared a new video from the behind the scenes of His Dark Materials, in which its stars and creative team talk about adapting the books materials for the small screen and the pressure that comes with the task.

Check the video below.