The room where it happened: Giles Terera’s backstage Hamilton diary

This morning we did Non-Stop, which ends the first half of the show. A lot of words. Jamael Westman wasn’t there when I arrived. Katy Bryant, our company manager, made an announcement that Jam’s partner had gone into labour so he is at the hospital. Beautiful news. Life. More life. I missed him today.

What a year for him. What a time.

今年の初め I did a play at the Donmar, then took a couple months off to prepare for this. I went to my sister’s house out in the country while they were on holiday, and sat and learned the score. Each morning I got up and tried to tackle another song. Aaron is in almost all of them. I sat with the cat and studied and researched and fucked up and started again.

One thing I find useful as I’m learning a part is to get a notepad and write out each song from memory. Every word. The exercise tells me which bits I don’t know. Which bits I’ve paraphrased. Generalised. It reveals where I am unsure. Ah, you thought you knew that sentence, but it’s “and” not “but”. The little details that slip through the net of your mind are exposed and show clearly where you are not being specific. また, it reveals certain things about the character’s thinking process. Patterns. How often questions are asked. What he says of others. What others say of him. What are his favourite words? What imagery? This song is the one that trips me up most.

From the moment I open my eyes, I’m thinking about my voice. How is it today? Is it there? How clear? How tired? How responsive? How supple? Any performer knows this deal. From opera to panto. We are married to our voices – and care must be taken.

I remember two years ago bumping into a friend of mine in Covent Garden. He was just about to start rehearsals playing the lead in the original London cast of Kinky Boots.

“OK, see you in a year’s time then.” I grinned at him. “Do you know what I mean!?” He smiled back. “There’s only one way to do it: eat well, get plenty of sleep and plenty of water. Say goodbye to your social life, and if you drink: don’t.”

With this show, the physical commitment is one thing. That’s a given. But the more we work, the more I see that it’s the inner commitments which are in fact the more demanding.

What is it to point a gun at someone? At someone you know. At someone you care about. What is it to kill someone? In what state must someone be in order to murder? What is murder?

An 18th-century duel was a very strange and particular thing. Two men arrange to meet, take aim at each other and fire, knowing that one or both may die. Knowing that you might walk away a murderer or not walk away at all.

Jam and I have talked about it. We’ve both read all the books and the essays. Tried to piece together for ourselves what took place that fateful morning. だが, finally, what is it actually to stand and aim and fire? I feel that the answer to that lies in everything that comes before it. The strength of their bond when they first meet. The strength of the moments during A Winter’s Ball and the wedding. The strength of whatever it is that happens during their years as lawyers. As Hamilton 言う: “Burr, my first friend.”

Today was the test. Dear Theodosia. The most delicate song to sing. It’s beautiful. It floats. Has in it all the promise of young men and young life.

Jam is still with his new family. A little girl. Almost certainly saying to her the very words ハミルトン says to his newborn son Philip in the show: “When you smile I am undone … Pride is not the word I’m looking for.”

After lunch we come to the song. It’s not dreadful but it’s not great. Alex Lacamoire is patient and encouraging, but I don’t think I’m giving him what he wants.

Tommy Kail arrived this morning. In the afternoon he walks in and everyone loses their shit. It’s a beautiful moment.

“How’s it going, buddy?” “I’m not there yet.”

“Of course you’re not. This is the end of week two. You’re learning music and next week we’ll move. You are allowed to not be there yet. You do know we have five weeks left, 右? Gimme a break.”

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