On September 27, Patrick Vassel, the associate director of Hamilton spoke with School of Drama students in the Rauh Studio Theater. Dressed in jeans and a smart blazer, he traced his journey to and through staging the hit musical. He used his personal transition from education to directing as an example to urge students to actively seek mentors in the theater industry and pursue their passions.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help or say ‘I don’t know’…” Vassel offered, “We need more people to tell their stories.”
Vassel emphasized love as the secret ingredient for a show’s success and encouraged students to work with people they believe in and to let them do their work. He touched on the casting process and the show’s ongoing commitment to diversity.
The talk was filled with professional advice supported by charming anecdotes and glimpses into Hamilton’s incubation and subsequent explosion.
Vassel detailed the working habits of “the Cabinet,” the affectionate nickname for Hamilton creative team comprised of writer Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Tommy Kail, and musical director Alex Lacamoire. During rehearsals, previews, and performances, the Cabinet kept a working list of questions to address. Vassel projected one such list from an early version of the musical and mentioned that the Cabinet relied on inherent trust in each other and the process to tackle issues. With its massive scale, HAMILTON requires a joyful and excited working environment.
“The way you work matters more than what you make…,” Vassel said, “the work is hard no matter what.”
Written by Kate Hamilton