Lately I’ve been posting about “Macbeth,” a play I’ve thoroughly enjoyed teaching. But what does that have to do with the play “Hamilton?” Well actually, if you’ve seen “Hamilton” (or at least if you’ve listened to the soundtrack), you’d know the answer to that question. Or obviously, as you have probably guessed if you aren’t familiar with “Hamilton,” the play that is seemingly everywhere nowadays references Shakespeare’s work. From the song “Take a Break” (it’s Hamilton singing to his wife):
My dearest, Angelica, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
I trust you’ll understand the reference to another Scottish tragedy without my having to name the play
They think me Macbeth, and ambition is my folly
I’m a polymath, a pain in the ass, a massive pain
Madison is Banquo, Jefferson’s Macduff
And Birnam Wood is Congress on its way to Dunsinane
Interestingly enough, the famous “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” monologue is the one I had to memorize while in high school. I still remember it, though committing it to my brain might have been easier if it had been set to music. Now, I have NOT seen “Hamilton,” and I hadn’t heard these lyrics before last week. A senior who noticed me wrapping up a 10th grade lesson, however, came into my classroom singing the above, so later I played it, trying to show students that Shakespeare—regardless if you like it or not—permeates all parts of our contemporary culture pretty well.
I’ll try to write a little more about wrapping up “Macbeth” in the coming days. Until then, two things: First, did you know it’s considered bad luck to say the play title “Macbeth” in a theater? In “Hamilton” it is “the Scottish tragedy,” which mirrors nicknames used such as “the Scottish play,” “the Bard’s play,” “MacB” (that one seems like a cheat), and “Mackers.” And second, can anyone explain why “Hamilton” has been such a phenomenon in the last two years? I honestly don’t quite understand. “Take a Break” seems like a catchy tune, but I’m not sure it is phenomenal. So is play worth all the hype—I’d love to know from someone who’s seen it!
Until then, taking a break for tonight. –Jeff and Leah