‘EduHam’ Inspires Utah Students
Theater and History for $10
Enthusiastic teens from 39 high schools around Utah were treated to an all-student matinee performance of “Hamilton” at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City on May 4. By some estimates, 60 percent of the attendees from Title I schools had never seen a live professional theater performance.
The opportunity came after students spent several weeks studying American history through a special integrated curriculum about Alexander Hamilton and the nation’s Founding Fathers. The “Hamilton” Education Program, nicknamed “EduHam,” was created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to inspire students.
“Hamilton” producers offered $70 tickets for this educational partnership. Zions Bank and the State of Utah donated $60 toward each ticket, bringing down the price to just $10 per student.
“At first I didn’t understand this part of history, but now I love history a lot,” says Dachuneeh Martin, a ninth-grade student from Whitehorse High School in Montezuma Creek within the Navajo Nation. “Learning about the Boston Tea Party and the U.S. breaking away from England shows how much you can fight for your rights to freedom.”
Students Get Their Shot on Stage
For their final EduHam projects, students created original performance pieces about a chapter of revolutionary history. Finalists from various schools then performed their works — songs, rap, poetry and monologues — on the Eccles Theater stage in front of their peers before seeing “Hamilton.”
Granger High students Alton Phonepraseuth, Ivan Padilla and Baily Beacham performed a rap about the Boston Massacre, told in part through the voice of former slave Crispus Attucks, the first person killed in the uprising:
“If this means that I can be free
Then let it be.
It’s not just about me:
Brothers and sisters and fathers and daughters,
Uncles and aunties and sons and mothers.”
Petrona Lucas, an 11th-grade student at East High School in Salt Lake City, said she was relieved not to be nervous during her performance about Abigail Adams during which she quoted a line from Adams’ letter to Thomas Jefferson: “No eye but my own have seen what has passed.”
Cast Members Interact with Teens
Following the student performances, 14 cast members engaged in a Q&A session with the crowd. When asked what historical research they did for their roles, Marcus Choi, who played the part of George Washington, said, “Reading George Washington’s journal affected my performance and gave me perspective.” He went on to describe the role as “the most challenging, most technical, dense-material show I’ve ever been a part of.”
Each participating cast member talked about what advice they would offer to their younger selves. Ta’Rea Campbell, who depicts Angelica Schuyler, confided, “I’d say this to my younger self: It gets so much better. It does. Trust me.” Kylee Scatliffe, who plays Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, told the students: “You are the only version of yourself that exists, and that’s what makes you special. You are perfect as you are.”