Ambassador’s Remarks at the Hamilton VIP Screening, December 5, 2023
Prime Minister Kurti, Ministers, members of the Assembly, diplomatic corps colleagues, opposition leaders, distinguished guests. Good evening, and welcome.
I’m so pleased you could join us this evening for this special screening of Hamilton, the film version of the hit musical which took Broadway theater audiences – and the American imagination – by storm a few years ago.
Musical theater combines song, the spoken word, acting, and dance, with roots in popular vaudeville and traveling shows of the 19th century as well as European opera.
To my mind, there is nothing like this genre for telling compelling stories, emotionally, intellectually, and memorably.
The genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda – a Puerto-Rican American songwriter, actor, and playwright and the creator of Hamilton – was to reimagine the founding years of American democracy through rap, jazz, and rock and roll and through inspired lyrics that capture the ethos of a new country and its revolutionary leaders.
A group that was “young, scrappy, and hungry,” unwilling to give up their shot.
Lin-Manuel Miranda has described the casting of Hamilton – and his use of African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Latino actors to play the roles of our all white, male founding fathers – as simply an effort to bring together the most talented players possible.
But this multicultural casting is also a strong statement of belonging and inclusivity, reminding of the many ways that American creativity, and dynamism derive from our rich diversity.
In Miranda’s telling, immigrants, voluntary and involuntary, as well as indigenous peoples, are part and parcel of the American story, represented retroactively in Hamilton.
One of the hallmarks of the American political journey has been our aspiration of an ever-expanding vision of what our founders laid out.
That vision includes the principle that everyone – no matter who they are or where they come from – is endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
We know we are far from perfect. It is a paradox that Thomas Jefferson, the author of those very words and who who looms large in our history and in this film, was also an owner of slaves, along with many of our nation’s founders.
However, one of our fundamental ideals remains that we aspire towards a “more perfect union,” knowing that our children and our children’s children will inherit what we build.
It is no coincidence that we chose this moment to screen Hamilton here in Kosovo, as you mark your 15th year of independence, recognizing all of the stories, tragic and heroic, personal and collective, well-known and yet-to-be-told, that are part of this country’s history already.
We share in your disappointments just as we root for your successes.
As you know, we have high expectations for the prospering of your multiethnic democracy and your contributions to regional stability and security.
As Hamilton notes, “History has its eyes on you” and we do too! You have the pen. You will determine what story you will write, just as Washington, Jefferson, and Hamilton
Before we begin tonight’s screening, I need to share just a few housekeeping notes.
If you did not pick one up on your way in, we have available trilingual printed programs with key themes and characters of Hamilton explained more in-depth. (Please raise your hand if you did not receive one.)
In keeping with American movie-going traditions, we are serving popcorn – homemade kettle corn in fact – along with water and soda this evening. We hope you enjoy!
While we believe the film is engaging and entertaining, it does have a long run-time. You are welcome to get up to stretch your legs during the film, and refill on popcorn and drinks.
Finally, I want to thank Klan Arena for hosting us this evening, as well as our partners at The Walt Disney Company for allowing us to organize this special screening. We appreciate this generosity,
Thank you all again and we hope you enjoy the film!