The Tony Awards recognize excellence in live theater. If #OscarsSoWhite has been part of any of your conversations, this year’s Tony Awards may interest you.
“Hamilton” Sweeps Tony Awards
This year, Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s hip-hop musical Hamilton won 11 of the 16 awards. Historically, the only other play to have beat out Hamilton is The Producers, which won 12 of the 14 awards in 2001.
Hamilton is produced and performed predominantly by BIPOC talent. Inspired by a 2004 biography of U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton, the production takes the audience through his history as a the illegitimate son of a British West Indies mother and a Scottish immigrant father who orphaned him at 13, all the way to the duel that killed him. Although Hamilton himself did not end up President of the United States, he played an integral part in the shaping of the early United States, for better or worse. In fact, the original naval communication guidebook he devised was still in use in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s easy to see how one could become fascinated by the historical figure, as Miranda did.
The hip-hop opus started off Broadway in February of last year and made it onto the Broadway circuit by August. You can listen to the astonishingly creative musical through Spotify right here.
“The Color Purple” Also Sees Big Wins
The Color Purple also took home Tony Awards Sunday. Based on the seminal Alice Walker novel, the musical was adapted for stage and features music and lyrics written by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, with a book by Marsha Norman. When it first ran in 2005, it earned 11 2006 Tony nominations. Its 2015 revival is what brought the work to the Tonys for 2016, winning two more Tony Awards, including best revival.
The story takes place mostly in 1930s rural Georgia. It focuses on the lives of several Black women in the South and focuses on their horrendous treatment both by white society — which rejects them, save for their perceived use as “the help” — and the misogynoir they experienced in their romantic relationships.
Hamilton and The Color Purple actors Daveed Diggs, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr have two things in common: they’ve won awards for best musical acting and they are all BIPOC/POC.
Representation is just one part of the struggle to de-center whiteness. Sunday evening’s award ceremony was dedicated to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, which happened on the club’s Latin night. But will it ever be enough?