Friday, June 24, 2016

Plutarch, Brand, and Tickets to "Hamilton"

Earlier this month, Lin-Manuel Miranda announced that he is leaving Hamilton, the Broadway hip-hop musical he wrote and in which he stars.  And when the Tony Award-winner departs after July 9, he’ll be accompanied out the door by another Tony-winner, Leslie Odom Jr., who plays co-star Aaron Burr, and a third mainstay of the cast, Phillipa Soo, who plays Eliza Hamilton.  That means the hottest ticket on Broadway, the winner of 11 Tony awards, called “the great work of art, so far, of the twenty-first century” will lose its three major leads.

So, if you happen to have tickets for Hamilton on July 10, will you really still get to see Hamilton?

I’m reminded of an old thought experiment called the Ship of Theseus. 

Theseus, the founder of Athens, had an impressive ship that won many battles.  When the ship was finally retired, the grateful citizens of Athens preserved it in their harbor.  But every so often a rotten plank on the ship would need to be replaced.  The question Plutarch asked was: After replacing the first plank, was it still the Ship of Theseus?  How about when half the planks were replaced, would it still be the Ship of Theseus?  And how about all the planks?