“Hamilton” cast members Josh Tower (Aaron Burr), Stephanie Umoh (Angelica Schuyler), Tyler Belo(Hercules Mulligan/James Madison) and Raven Thomas (Ensemble) joined high school students from Hennepin Theatre Trust’s “Spotlight Education” program today in a unique opportunity to engage in a roundtable discussion with Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon on democracy and voting.
The meeting comes just a week after legislation backed by Secretary Simon to increase voter access and participation in the democratic process, the Democracy for the People Act, passed in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
“Hamilton,” acclaimed for its powerful portrayal of American history and relevance to contemporary issues, utilizes its platform to inspire action. Cast members and staff have long been involved in promoting voter registration and democratic participation across the nation, particularly during election years. Today’s discussion focused on the importance of access to voting, Minnesota’s high rates of voter turnout, the importance of youth participation in democracy and Secretary Simon’s priorities this legislative session for a stronger democracy.
“The ‘Hamilton’ cast couldn’t have picked a more perfect moment to bring their talents to Minnesota” said Secretary Simon. “Much like the young republic of ‘Hamilton,’ our democracy is facing unprecedented challenges—but also unprecedented opportunities to build a stronger and more inclusive democracy. Minnesota is seizing on that opportunity taking steps to make our voting easier, more accessible, and more secure. The voices of artists like the ‘Hamilton’ cast and the Minnesota students who made their voices heard today will be essential to the long-term resilience of democracy in Minnesota and across the country. I want to thank these inspiring young leaders, the ‘Hamilton’ cast and Hennepin Theatre Trust for stepping up.”
Hennepin Theatre Trust stated that their Spotlight Education program is an essential part of arts education in over 100 high schools across Minnesota.
“We are proud to bring high school students to the Minnesota Capitol through our Spotlight Education program,” said Mark Nerenhausen, president and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust. “The arts have long represented the voice of the people and are a powerful vehicle for civic education and engagement. Through dynamic arts programing that enriches curriculum in high schools across the state, we are not only creating a knowledge of theater in our Spotlight students, we are instilling them with confidence, empathy and critical thinking skills that will support them in their lives offstage as they develop as the next generation of leaders in Minnesota.”
According to them, the program supplements and enhances arts curricula through production assessments, workshops and arts journalism, increasing equitable access to quality theater education. The students in attendance at Wednesday’s roundtable discussion are members of the Spotlight Education program.
“I had only voted for the first time this last fall” said Moriah Weiss, Spotlight Education student from Tartan High School. “Admittedly, I had never appreciated history nor given much thought to politics or voting. But as my education progressed and especially after I saw “Hamilton,” I feel that I was able to find context for the place in democracy we all share and the weight our vote and our voice carries. With the heavy decisions and discussions our democracy faces every day, it is important now more than ever to make our voices heard.”
“Hamilton” is now open at the Orpheum Theatre for a 5-week run through May 6. For tickets and showtimes, visit HennepinTheatreTrust.org.