Vice President-elect Mike Pence speaking in Maryland in 2015

Credit: Gage Skidmore

All Revved Up: Mike Pence's Not-So-Relaxing Night At The Theatre

November 21, 2016

Vice President-elect Mike Pence said he was not upset by the speech addressed to him post-show by the cast of the hit musical Hamilton.

“I can tell you I wasn't offended by what was said,” Pence told Fox News Sunday about the statement. It made by a cast member, Brian Victor Dixon.

Dixon was asked by the show’s producer to speak at the end of the show, addressing Mike Pence from the stage.

“We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” he said.

Despite Pence’s neutral reaction to the prepared statement, President-elect Donald Trump was offended, as illustrated by a series of tweets calling the address “harassment.” Trump also demanded that the cast apologize.

Reverends Emmett Price and Irene Monroe joined BPR to talk over the Hamilton controversy, saying it was within the rights of the cast to make the statement.

Reverend Price said the role of theatre is to provoke thought, especially about politics.

“Theatre is a place where you have the ability to do social commentary and political critique, from individuals who usually don’t have the platform to actually engage in the political process in that area,” he said. “So it’s a place where you stimulate dialogue around culture, democracy, equity, and inclusion, but also where you engage in conversations around difference.”

Reverend Monroe defended Dixon for making the speech, seeing parallels between his behavior and the plot of the play. She also praised Pence’s response.

“There’s a refrain in the show-- ‘He didn’t want to throw away his shot,’ and this was that moment [for Dixon],” she said. “And Pence also...took it very well; he said this is what democracy sounds like.”

Some groups have protested Trump’s Cabinet appointments, including that of former Breitbart Media executive Steve Bannon. Bannon has been linked to the white nationalist movement.

Reverend Monroe said she sees Steve Bannon, Trump’s choice for Chief Strategist, as more dangerous now than in the past. Monroe said she finds the recent uptick in hateful language and behavior alarming, and attributes it to rhetoric like Bannon’s.

“While we really need to address the issue of class in this society, and that disaffected white group, I’m beginning to see that [Bannon] really is sowing the seed of division in this society,” she said. “It’s scary at this point, because a lot of people feel emboldened to act out.”

Reverend Price said he saw less of an explicit connection between Trump’s administration and white supremacy, saying the alt-right has taken advantage of Trump’s popularity.

“This group is co-opting a moment and a movement that is very weak and amorphous,” he said. “Donald Trump’s vision for making America great again is a very amorphous kind of general oblique notion, and other groups are kind of co-opting this moment to link onto what they’re doing.”

To hear All Revved Up, click the audio link above. Rev. Emmett G. Price III is a professor of music at Northeastern University, and the author of The Black Church and Hip Hop Culture. Rev. Irene Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist who writes for Huffington Post and Bay Windows.


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