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I feel like people are missing something really key that happened in the 2016 Tonys performance.
Lin changed one word. But that’s all it took to change the meaning of the performance and the Tonys.
“Weapon with my hands.”
They didn’t just take out the muskets to show solidarity, Lin is trying to teach us that what we do, say and write will change perspective for generations to come. He’s showing us how we don’t need a gun or violence to fight for what we believe in. Like Alexander, we have our hands. Our writing. Our words are immortalised when we write, no matter who takes us away. The massacre in Orlando has devastated our country, but why stay silent? Why give them what they want and silence ourselves? We need to make something that is immortalised. Teach generations that come that you can take away our loved ones, but you can NEVER take our words.
Each character rhymes differently. The way that they are rapping contributes to their story. George Washington raps in a very on-beat, metronomic way because he is focused and driven and always moving forward. Lafayette has this great arc where he starts out rhyming words that don’t really rhyme and he can’t really figure it out. As he becomes comfortable — and a general — he can do this really complicated, technical, fast stuff. It’s like him mastering this language. Jefferson’s raps are so bouncy and all over the place, and part of it’s because I’m playing him — but Lin was writing with this interesting kind of West Coast feel:
[Raps from “Washington on Your Side.”] “If Washington isn’t gon’ listen to disciplined dissidents, this is the difference: This kid is out.”
It’s very bouncy, not necessarily story-focused. Jefferson doesn’t really have to worry about that because he’s an aristocrat, and he can do whatever he wants. He gets to play a little more. To pack all of that into this story, it’s like, oh man, of course it took you six years to write it. There’s very careful, methodical work going on here.