14 September 2021 (released)
14 September 2021
The recent publication of Hamilton and Me – An Actor’s Journal by Olivier award-winning actor Giles Terera MBE, gives us an inside view into two separate but related areas: firstly, the details of the complex organizational process and highly talented personalities behind the production of a West-End or Broadway musical and secondly , but of equal interest, a personal insight into the thoughts, feelings and motivations of Giles Terera. It is a book that will be of interest to both Hamilton aficionados and those outside that inner circle. We learn and feel the tension of the months-long waiting time between Terera’s initial brilliant audition and the final offer of a role. The mental perseverance and steadiness required is part of Terera’s impressive work ethos, examples of which permeate the journal, and form a core value of the personality we see emerging from the journal notes.
The Journal is not just an account of the acting experience and working process. The key to the spirit with which the journal is written is Terera’s description of how he began writing journals. As a young boy, Terera was given a journal by his mother who suggested that he keep notes of their first vacation and note down what he saw in their travels and how he felt about it. The journal habit remained with him, including those two principles of observation and reflection that his mother proposed.
The book is neatly divided into sections that describe each phase of his experience of the Hamilton production and his response during that time: the audition, rehearsal, the theatre experience, the performance and the aftermath. There is an appreciative and insightful foreword by Lin-Manuel Miranda and the book contains illustrated highlights.
Terera tells us that there are moments in one’s life which are the high point of what has come before and what will follow and his experience as part of the Hamilton production in London is clearly that moment for him despite the many high points in his impressive career. He makes an interesting connection between that moment of joy and self-expression in his work for Hamilton and a dream-memory he has based on a childhood experience – the release of Nelson Mandela and the celebration in Trafalgar Square.
On the personal level, the Journal offers an insight into the arduous work required of someone reaching Terera’s level of excellence and attainment in his field, but another key thread is the humility with which Terera approaches his work as well as his love for family. That family feeling is one of the features of the Hamilton experience which makes it a high point for him in his career and life.
This book is an thought-provoking read not only for what it says about the production of Hamilton and the various personalities involved but most of all for what it reveals about the core of Terera’s values and approach to acting – It is in the unique moments which he describes – an encounter with a homeless man, and a point in the rehearsal when all the actors fall in a heap on the floor and spontaneously begin to sing Amazing Grace. The “huddle” of which there are a few episodes is a symbol of his engagement with those he works with as is the special performance of Hamilton arranged for school children that he initiated and helped organize. Those features make this an inspiring book by an inspiring personality.