What can law students learn from the hit musical “Hamilton”? Quite a bit, according to University of Chicago Law School Professor Will Baude, who made the musical’s recent arrival in the Windy City the centerpiece of his welcome address to new law students last month.
No, dueling is not a great idea. But the Tony Award-winning show, which follows the life of Founding Father and real-life lawyer Alexander Hamilton, offers three life lessons for aspiring attorneys, Baude said last month. It illustrates the value of challenging conventional wisdom; the importance of friendships and personal connections in one’s career; and the utility of viewing the law as a separate world—not just as a tool to achieve certain outcomes.
Oskar Eustis ... the exuberant 58-year-old artistic director of the Public Theater [is] arguably the most admired theater executive in the country. ...
His 16-year-old son, Jack, took his own life nearly two years ago. Now, Mr. Eustis, with his family, faces the kind of soul-searching for which there can be no preparation. How to hold on and move forward at the same time. What it means to be a public figure with a private grief. How he thinks about the work he does and the shows he sees. ...
An MP3 arrived by email, hours after Jack’s death. It came from Lin-Manuel Miranda, a new arrival to the Public fold.
It was a demo recording of “It’s Quiet Uptown,” the song from “Hamilton” describing Alexander Hamilton, and his wife, Eliza, as they grieve the death of their 19-year-old son, Philip:
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down.
The Hamiltons move uptown And learn to live with the unimaginable ...
If you see him in the street, walking by her Side, talking by her side, have pity ... He is trying to do the unimaginable See them walking in the park, long after dark Taking in the sights of the city ... They are trying to do the unimaginable
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is a grace too powerful to name We push away what we can never understand We push away the unimaginable They are standing in the garden Alexander by Eliza’s side She takes his hand
It’s quiet uptown
Forgiveness. Can you imagine? Forgiveness. Can you imagine? If you see him in the street, walking by her Side, talking by her side, have pity They are going through the unimaginable
“There is nothing you can say,” Mr. Miranda recalled thinking. “And yet, I had a song about this. So I wrote to him saying, ‘If this is useful, then lean on it, and, if not, delete this email.’”
Mr. Eustis and his wife found it useful. “Every line of ‘Quiet Uptown’ feels like it’s exactly correct to my experience,” Mr. Eustis said. “It was the only music we listened to for a long time, and we listened to it every day, and it became a key thing for the two of us.”
There is a part of “Hamilton” that Mr. Eustis still finds unbearable, in the opening number, when a rapid description of Alexander Hamilton’s childhood includes the lyric “Moved in with a cousin, the cousin committed suicide,” which is choreographed with a brief pantomime of the death. “From the moment it happened in rehearsal, I’ve turned away,” he said. “I’ve never looked at it.”
But Mr. Eustis and Mr. Miranda both recall something else, too: The grieving father’s reaction to a line of comic relief that, in the show’s libretto, is uttered by Thomas Jefferson immediately after “It’s Quiet Uptown”: “Can we get back to politics?”
“For me, the beautiful thing about ‘Quiet Uptown’ is, it serves a ritualistic function — it takes us into the grief, and then it takes us out of it,” Mr. Eustis said. “And there’s nothing, there’s no other ritual that I know of, that can do that for me.”