The Popularity of Hamilton: An American Musical

Hamilton: An American Musical has been very successful as of today. While not being a hundred percent accurate to history, the musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers, and how he immigrated to America, made friends, married, joined the revolution as the right-hand man to George Washington, served as the first United States Secretary of the Treasury under Washington’s presidency, dealt with his affair and lastly, his deadly duel. The founding father is also known as the face of the 10-dollar bill.

There are multiple factors playing into the success of the musical, the most obvious being the style of music. Usually, musicals in theatres were rather classic, but Hamilton, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, was one of the first plays to introduce a hybrid of hip-hop, rap, pop and jazz to the classic theatre in 2015. In 2015, this was not completely unknown, but rather unusual as none of these musicals had major success like Hamilton. However, it seemed to have paid off, as it integrated these music styles into the world of musical and are now more commonly used. Signalled by the use of hip-hop and rap, the target audience of Hamilton is not your ordinary, upper-middle-class (and above) family, but the youth.

Another way to attract the youth to musicals was Hamilton’s publication to the streaming platform Disney+ in July 2020. At this point, Hamilton was only being performed in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The only other way to access the musical was either to solely listen to the soundtrack on streaming platforms like Spotify or to watch bootlegs on YouTube, which are not entirely legal and often of poor quality. With its publication on Disney+, the musical got more accessible to a variety of people and started to gain more success in other countries as well. It got so famous, that the play is currently being translated into German to be held in Hamburg in September 2022 (if the corona situation has calmed down by then).

Lastly, the musical is notoriously famous for its story-telling. It is not only telling the story of the founding father but the story is told by the American people. The Broadway cast is largely made up of actors who are African-American, Latinx, Chinese-American or of another marginalised ethnicities. While they tell what is called “white history”, the multiculturalism of the cast attracts people that feel represented by the musical and makes it interesting for people of many cultures. Yet again, this is seen as it is performed in Canada, Australia and, as mentioned before, currently being translated into German to perform, while being an “An American Musical”.

Author: Leonie Thomas

Garou, the Tragic Monster

Justice from the Point of View of an Antagonist

Being the strongest character is the ultimate goal for the protagonist of any Shōnen anime – but what if that ultimate power is also a curse?

The anime One Punch Man starts off by handing us a protagonist, Saitama, who’s already the strongest character in his universe. In fact, he’s so strong he can defeat any enemy with a single punch – hence the name. This power is his ultimate curse, as it leaves him bored and depressed. He simply doesn’t get excited about anything anymore. Now, my favorite character from One Punch Man is not Saitama, but Garou, a 19-year-old human with martial arts skills. Garou is not a friend of Saitama’s; he is, in fact, the exact opposite, an antagonist, who even calls himself a monster, despite being an ordinary human.

While Saitama is the protagonist of One Punch Man, every character has their own unique background story, circumstances, and motivation for what they’re doing, and Garou’s are what make him my favorite antagonist in all of anime history. His story starts as a little kid, when he’s playing with his classmates. Every kid has watched TV shows about heroes fighting bad guys, but Garou, unlike the other kids, is always rooting for the monsters, who get so close to defeating the heroes, but can never succeed. When playing with the other kids, he always plays the villain, and he gets bullied and beaten up in return. Whenever he stands up against a “hero”, other kids come and help that kid defeat Garou. In the light of these events, Garou decides that he wants to be different: he wants to be a monster that breaks the cycle of the heroes winning. He wants to become the ultimate monster that will defeat every hero.

Because he’s getting bullied and beaten, Garou quits school and joins a Martial Arts dojo run by S-Class heroes, who are the highest-ranked heroes on the fictional planet of Silverfang. He trains every day to become stronger and more powerful, but his Sensei has no idea about Garou’s actual intensions. When he turns 19, he realises that he can´t learn anything at the Dojo anymore, so he leaves. Before leaving, however, he defeats every other student and almost kills them all. Garou thinks he’s now ready to end the constant defeat of villains and monsters, so he declares war on the Hero Association. He defeats a few heroes with ease; however, many more follow and try to stop him. Although struggling, Garou manages to strike them down. Now, in most movies and TV shows, the villain first overpowers the hero(es) and comes really close to winning. In the last possible moment, the hero(es) get that one, critical extra boost of power through friendship or love and manage to hold their ground. With Garou, it’s the exact opposite: at the start of each battle, the heroes overpower him, and he needs to find some extra strength to defeat the heroes.

What’s interesting is that I found myself rooting for him every time, because to me, he feels more like a misunderstood hero. Even though he’s the antagonist of the anime’s actual main character, whenever he is on screen, he becomes the protagonist. After all, we’ve learned his backstory, seen fights from his perspective, heard his thoughts, know his ideas and anticipate his tricks. Those are all features usually reserved for the main character! So Garou is presented to the viewer as the protagonist, even though he is a villain. To me, that makes him the best antagonist in all of anime.

Author: Chris Schneider

The Brave Coward

Understanding Strength Through Usopp from One Piece

“Romance Dawn” is the title of One Piece’s first chapter published in July 1997. While One Piece tackles many different topics, themes, and ideas, at its core it’s a story about romance. By romance, I refer to the wider notion of romance, the feeling of excitement and mystery beyond everyday life, the longing of following one’s dreams. In its essence, One Piece is the ultimate romanticised pirate adventure. The world of One Piece is inhabited by sea monsters, giants, humans with superpowers, talking animals, angels, and self-proclaimed gods. Amidst all of that, there is also Usopp, the sniper of the Straw Hat Crew. He is a weakling, a coward, a liar and most of the time, a crybaby. The polar opposite of what a great pirate is supposed to be, right? Except that I think, he is one of the bravest and most powerful characters in the entire series.

While the Straw Hat Pirates all travel together, they each have individual dreams they strive for. In Usopp’s case, this entails becoming a brave warrior of the sea, similar to the giants he unwaveringly idolizes. The only problem: he is neither as physically strong as a warrior nor is he brave in the common sense of the word. In fact, he often hides behind his lies and comrades when facing a superior enemy. As their journey progresses, it is only natural for their enemies to get stronger as well. After barely avoiding a near-death situation on Long Ring Long Land trying to protect Robin, he recognises his uselessness. Usopp convinces himself that he, like their ship, won’t reach their final destination. He leaves the crew because he doesn’t want to drag them down. His understanding of strength is ignorant. Strength isn’t limited to physical power. As Sanji points out later, he should focus on what he can do. Through the persona of Sniper King, he uses his lies as a source of internal strength, allowing him to stand at his comrades’ side again. While his strength isn’t remarkable, his reach as a sniper is, allowing him to play a crucial part in Robin’s rescue. The idea of strength gets perfectly contrasted by Spandam, the antagonist of this story arc who fittingly gets defeated by Usopp. Spandam has no power of his own. He only wields power in the form of the buster call and CP9 members, representing everything Usopp doesn´t want to be.  

By understanding his weaknesses, Usopp gains new strength. However, his understanding of Sanji’s words remained incomplete until the Straw Hats reach the island of love and passion, Dressrosa. Once more, he finds himself facing the aftermath of his lies while being the only one who can still complete their mission to knock out Sugar and break the country’s distortion. Overwhelmed by his anxiety and guilt over betraying the Tontatta Tribe’s trust, he realizes the greater meaning behind Sanji’s advice. Not do what only you can do but do everything you can do. He understands that he can’t hide behind his mask forever, dropping it and his lies with it. Through honesty, he pulled off a miracle so great the people who witness it literally titled him God afterwards. This development in character is represented by his bounty poster changing from Sniper King to God Usopp. For him to achieve his dream and become a great warrior of the sea, he must become an honest one.

There are many lessons we can learn by examining the character of Usopp but for me, it is oddly comforting to see a character in this larger-than-life setting struggling with the same mundane things I struggle with on a daily basis: battling with and ultimately overcoming his nature even in the face of great adversity.

Author: Michael Felber

Should we all be feminists? – Or does that just mean hating men?

I am a 20-year-old woman and, until a couple years ago, I’d never been confronted with real- life inequality. And of course, in school I’d learnt a whole lot about problems like racism, gender inequality or lack of human rights. But I’d never witnessed anything that comes near those things. I’d never experienced different treatment because I’m a girl. And so, for a long time, I was convinced that, nowadays, people understood that every human being, no matter what gender, religion, skin color or origin they have, is equal. I thought that, after all we’ve learnt about slavery, oppression, and all the awful things that happened in the past, people would be smarter. Or at least more reflected.

Before I decided to write this article, I wasn’t a – trigger warning – Feminist. I was in fact annoyed of girls who called themselves Feminists because I didn’t understand what that was supposed to mean. I thought: “Why do I have to hate men just because I am a woman? Why should I stand up for one side, if that side is just as wrong and discriminatory as the other side?” I love shoes and lip gloss and dresses, but also sports and I like hanging out with my boys and girls on the weekend. So I couldn’t be a Feminist – I’m way too liberal for that, aren’t I? And I’m way too girly for that, right? Well, I started my research for this article by looking up the definition of the term “Feminism”: apparently, Feminism is ‘the belief in social, economic and political equality of the sexes.’ I was confused. That was exactly what I want and what I believe in. Such a reasonable attitude and movement! So how could I end up with such a bad opinion on Feminism?

Has “Feminism” become a swearword?

It turned out I wasn’t the only one associating ‘Feminism’ with negative terms like ‘man- hating’ and ‘reversed discrimination’. Way too many people have this dangerous half- knowledge or simply don’t see how ‘Feminism’ should fit into its definition. A male Anti- Feminist said: “There are way too many different shapes of feminism nowadays. It’s not simply about gender equality anymore, it’s also a distorted self-image of women who exploit the role of a victim”. Now I was angry. I couldn’t understand in what way women should be exploiting oppression. I felt furious – how could he, as a man, dare to talk so negatively about something he’d never had to experience? To get less respect, just because of his gender. I mean, my life had been cozy, too, but at least I was willing to get informed, right?

Wait, so men have feelings, too?

So I had a look at the statistics he mentioned and was shocked. For instance, in India, male suicide rates are nearly twice as high as rates for women. That’s because not only women suffer under gender prejudices. Maybe women are expected to be housewives and mothers, look pretty and shut up, to not take part in politics and economics and not have a real job or a career. On the other hand, many men feel they always have to be strong and successful; they have to be insensitive cavemen who earn the money and take care of their women and children. So men around the world are under this enormous pressure to never feel overwhelmed or sad, but to be ‘the man’ in the house.

Do we need new names?

The word ‘Feminism’ only contains reference to women. That’s because it used to be a movement to secure that women get to have the same rights as men, e.g. to vote or to work. And maybe in the past that reference to only women, to clarify that women are equal to men, was necessary – and easily understandable. But not anymore. There’s still a long way to go, there still are women who can’t decide for themselves and don’t have the rights we might enjoy in Germany. And for those women, we still have to fight. But while we fight for women’s equal rights in other cultures, we should not forget that feminism also means that men have the same rights as women. It’s not a shame to be vulnerable or shopping-addicted just because you’re a man. And it certainly doesn’t make you less manly. Just like women don’t want to be called less feminine because they’re athletic, men probably don’t want to have to prove their ‘masculinity’ all the time. And men should be allowed to get the same time for paternity leave as women get for maternity leave. Because – guess what – men love their children the same way women do. They deserve to spend the same amount of time with their kids as mothers do. So, yeah, I guess I am a Feminist after all. I believe in equality as well as I believe in individualism. In the future, Feminists of all genders will hopefully fight for men’s rights as well as for women’s rights. We can only hope that people stop valuing each other differently, just because of their gender. I hope that people once again start to work on their understanding of humanity and see that no one is worth less, because of their individual traits, be it gender, home country, religion or god knows what.

author: Kati Habisov

The Lighthouse – a unique masterpiece of modern cinema

Two lighthouse keepers are losing their sanity when being trapped on a faraway island. This is all I knew about the movie The Lighthouse before watching the actual trailer. Despite thinking I was all set up for watching the teaser, my mind still got blown as director Robert Egger really takes the cake here! First, all you hear is the sound of a foghorn blaring while you stare at a black screen and you get an instant claustrophobic feeling. Then, a black and white vintage shot of a lighthouse; Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, who look like weather-beaten 19th century sailors, are gazing into the camera. I don’t want to spoil too much but what follows is an uproarious roller coaster ride of images as you see an ax-wielding psychopath, tentacles, an eerie mermaid and much more horror madness.  It leaves you puzzled as to what you have just seen, and I can promise you one thing: you are hooked and intrigued right away!

They did it again: Psychological horror at its finest

If you decide to check out this flick, its imagery, setting and symbolism will be stamped in your mind long after you left your TV. Egger’s psychological horror movie isn’t just more than worth seeing, it also breathes new life into an industry which has left us progressively with trite and dull movies over the past years.

With the film’s release in October 2019, it’s no surprise that no less studio than A24 is behind that project; a company which is well-known for highly renowned and well lauded productions of independent movies such as Midsommar (2019), Hereditary (2018) and Moonlight (2016). Just looking at these films, it’s almost certainly that The Lighthouse  delivers what it promises.

“what’s a timber man want with being a wickie?”- Disorientation as the goal

Vaguely based on an unfinished short story of Edgar Allan Poe, the plot is set on a remote, storm-wrecked lighthouse in New England during the 19th century. Ephraim Winslow’s (Robert Pattinson’s)  adventure is to get underway as he decides to quit his job as a timberman and starts his first day working for a contentious, gross and elderly man named Thomas Wake (William Defoe) as he wants to learn the ropes of being a wickie (old term for lighthouse keeper). Wake orders Winslow around with daily annoying duties, while always making clear that he is at the helm. As he heads up to the lantern room, he forbids Winslow to ever go up there.  In the course of time, the audience can see how Winslow evolves, unveils his dark secrets and eventually dips into madness. He becomes obsessed with what happens at the top of the lighthouse and at some point, the viewer asks himself which one of the guys goes crazier and who’s still to trust.

It’s amazing how Robert Egger has managed to make the film look so authentic. From a technical point of view, it was a brilliant idea to shoot the film in a gray 1.19:1 aspect ratio in order to magnify the dark, gloomy and claustrophobic atmosphere. The old-time sailor’s dialect of the actors is flawless and their sledgehammer performance did leave me speechless, for example, when Thomas spells a biblically, dramatic and few minutes long curse upon Winslow only because he was not fond of his lobster. All this provides an experience unlike anything you have seen before and makes the movie so unique.

Complexity: What does the movie even mean?

The most enjoyable part for me personally is that there is no fixed interpretation or message behind the story. Intentionally, the gist of the movie remains blurry as there are many hints and signs unpretentiously hidden. One can surely find psychological, sexual and homoerotic themes; however, I was mostly amazed by the Greek mythical reference as Winslow could be portrayed as Prometheus, the titan who got punished for stealing the fire from Zeus in order for mankind’s benefit. The light is seen as a metaphor for enlightenment such as, on a more straightforward level, the light of the lighthouse illuminates the night and guides the ships through darkness. 

A timeless film but not for everyone

Even though the movie satisfies my cinematic needs in every way, I do have to admit that it isn’t a film for everyone since some people could perceive it as too brutal or blend in its story. If you’re someone who rather aims for movies which are easier to digest and jollier, The Lighthouse wouldn’t particularly be the right choice for you. However, if you like extraordinary and artistic movies which pluck up courage to try something new and even write a piece of film history with their exceptional style then go ahead with all sails set and watch the movie. You won’t regret it!

author: Mariana Silva Lindner

“Don’t make me grow up before my time” – The Timelessness of Little Women

„I just feel like, women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. And I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it!”, Saoirse Ronan says with tears in her eyes, “But I’m so lonely.” Now I’m also crying. In case you’re wondering where this quote is from – it’s Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. The film hit US cinemas on Christmas Day last year, was nominated for seven Oscars and finally came to Germany in late January. Since then I’ve actually watched it twice at the movies, that’s how good it is.

Originally, Little Women is a children’s book by Louisa May Alcott that first came out in 1868 and received a second volume a year later. The book is considered a classic and has been filmed and re-filmed several times. Even though it came out forever ago, I managed to get half the people I know hooked on it. Here’s why you should do the same.

“Just because my dreams are different than yours, it doesn’t mean they’re unimportant.”

Little Women tells the tale of the lower middle-class March family: the father is away fighting in the American Civil War, and mother Marmee takes care of their four daughters by herself. The Little Women couldn’t be any more different in personality and life goals. The second volume Good Wives portrays them as young women who are trying to accomplish said goals.

There is Jo, an aspiring writer who does not want to get married. Yet, she has to come to realize that everyone around her seems to be changing: her family and friends all grow up, think of marriage and children and she keeps clinging to the past.

Her youngest sister Amy was probably the least liked sister to most readers prior to the 2019 movie. She’s an artist-to-be, at times annoying and vain and has her mind set on marrying rich. The movie actually manages to turn her into a fan-favourite.

The oldest sister Meg is more of a romantic – she gets married at a very young age and faces the kind of problems you would expect: child keeping and making jam. The usual.

Last, we have Beth. She is a very shy character and is the kind soul of the family. Luckily for her, she is always supported by her sisters and they would all happily throw a punch for her.

The movie very beautifully combines the stories from their childhood and alternates them with the ones from their adulthood. The flashbacks are tinted in warm, rosy colours, whereas the present ones are rather blueish and cold. This alternation manages to bring together innocence and growth, as well as optimism and reality.

“Girls have to go into the world and make up their own minds about things.”

Little Women in itself is a timeless story, especially regarding its themes and topics. For one, you have a differentiated portrayal of feminism, which is even more amazing considering that the book was written in the 1860s. It will positively break your heart (to quote my brother at the movies, crying: “You should have told me it was going to be so sad! You can’t let me watch this without warning me first!”).

Another theme is the whole growing up business. You know … the one you’re probably also trying really hard to figure out. There’s this movie scene where Amy says “I’m a failure” and Laurie replies “That’s quite a statement to make at twenty.” The story reflects really well the struggles of becoming An AdultTM and figuring out who you are, while also dealing with a constant shortage of money, time and sleep (please tell me it’s not just me).

The film manages to literally convey all of this in two hours. Yet, if you are still doubtful about whether you really need to watch the movie, let me mention the cast – a movie that has Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Timothée Chalamet and Meryl Streep should be worth watching regardless of its content. And I stand by that.

author: Lea Metzner

“Yes it will be a grace if I die. To exist is pain. Life is no desire of mine anymore.” – A review of the play Electra by the Anglistentheater

It was -3° Celsius.

-3° Celsius when I was riding my bike back home after having watched the performance of Electra by the Anglistentheater. But I couldn’t feel the cold, my thoughts captured by an echo of what I’d just listened to, watched and felt.

I won’t spoil your experience of watching the play by giving away the plot. What I do want you to know, though, is: this performance of Nick Payne’s Electra is filled with emotions, passion and love for detail. Authenticity of all actors and actresses makes this performance so realistic. The focus is on acting, which is still pleasingly accentuated by fitting music or, in many cases, the actors and actresses humming. There are no exaggerated light effects, no overdone make up, only people, who enjoy what they’re doing: being on stage. I don’to criticize either sound, light effects or make up. I just think that this is what fitted the play and performance just perfectly.

So why go and see the play? The performance of the Anglistentheater did exactly what a performance is meant to do: it left me thinking. Thinking about what is right or wrong. If revenge can be a way of coping with rage or grief. Why people want to take revenge. How it feels to loose your father murdered by your mother. Why humans are cruel. That’s just what came to my mind after seeing the play. Even though your thoughts might be completely different, I still hope you enjoy this performance as much as I did. And maybe it leaves you with a tear in your eye, a smile on your face or your mind coming up with questions you’ve never asked yourself before. Either way  it is worth your time to go and watch it!

Their shows take place on Thursday, the 5th of December, Friday 6th, Tuesday 10th and Thursday 12th at 8.00 p.m. in the Hörsaal 2 here at Uni. Tickets can be ordered online with the order forms or at the Taschenbuchladen Krüger located near Königsplatz.


author: Milena Kolzem