With Donald Trump President-Elect of the United States of America—and his supporters rallying to “boycott Hamilton,” the musical that plays in both New York City and Chicago—theatre makers in the Windy City talk about how they will move forward.
In a piece with the Chicago Tribune, artistic directors share their thoughts on what is next for their companies in the wake of a Trump supporter interrupting a performance of Chicago’s Hamilton and having to be escorted out.
“Do we become the meeting spot? The church? The town square? Do we come together to say this is where we have come from and where do we go tomorrow?” asks Chay Yew, artistic director of Victory Gardens Theater. “The question also becomes: Are we opening our doors to different viewpoints? We may not all agree, but it’s a good place to come together. That’s the role of what theater should be.”
Anna D. Shapiro, artistic director of Steppenwolf Theatre Company, says that unlike this year’s programming, which focused on the qualities we all share in this nation, “we’ll turn that prism one more time and say the work that we’re looking at is a little bit more about what we don’t share. And how all of us are under the same sky. We can't keep making work that just confirms that the way we’re living is right or enough. Not if we’re going to claim to be in a union.”
Robert Falls, of the Goodman Theatre, says that theatre will now have to both “challenge” and “comfort.” He adds, “The ground has shifted. I believe it's seismic. I believe that artists will and must respond to events that have happened and will continue to happen. I think that theater can have an activist role, if one says that being an activist is to sort of alert and converse, that there are moments that require anger, reflection, moments that need to allow laughter.”
Free Street Theater’s Coya Paz says that the company is kicking off “Performance for Action and Intervention Training,” which will be a repeating series that “helps people think about making performance to support direct action efforts,” he says. “It’s not making plays about a politics but it’s making performance to engage with protests, to draw attention to particular venues, things people can do out in the world to support direct action.”