Commencement

While it may be cost prohibitive to see Hamilton, you can take in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania for free:

As with Hamilton, Miranda’s address uses an old genre in deep and deeply entertaining ways. A few points about listening:

Listening to what’s not there

Miranda begins by apologizing for the fact there is one and only one allusive reference to Philadelphia in all the 22,000 words of Hamilton. “Every story you choose to tell by necessity omits others from the larger narrative.”

Listening to your body

While writing his first Broadway play, In the Heights, Miranda developed a “blinding pain” in his right shoulder. Miranda found himself constantly cracking the shoulder until a back specialist helped him really listen to what his body was telling him. The life story of opera composer Giuseppe Verdi was also involved.

Listening—or not—to feedback

While developing an early version of In the Heights, Miranda and director Thomas Kail got some advice from a “big-deal veteran theater producer.” The advice would have helped them get the play produced right away. The advice was also worse than clichéd. Rejecting this advice and the opportunity to work with this person meant they had to “wait for it”  quite a while longer. “The story they fought to tell” survives.

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