At our Core: The Tribe

Like many of you, I have been inundated with the music of the (relatively) new musical Hamilton for the past year and a half. Both my children list it among the top music choices in our household, and run around with the lyrics and rhythms seemingly always at the tips of their tongues.

I recently came across an amazing video (embedded here or linked here) that features a unique ritual from behind the scenes of the Hamilton musical. In it, the actor currently playing King George (SNL’s Taran Killam) ceremoniously passes on the role to the next actor who will portray that character (the original King George from the off-Broadway Hamilton run, Brian d’Arcy James). This five-and-a-half minute peek into the behind the scenes cast rituals is fun and funny and it illuminated something for me about what we mean when we say “tribe.”

If you spend any time working with Yes! And… Collaborative Arts you will undoubtedly hear us talk about the importance of tribe. It is so central to our work, we created our entire educational pedagogy around it: Tribe Centered Learning. We do, however, have some difficulty in translating exactly what that means and how it looks in practice. Hold on here for this: that difficulty is actually part of what makes it tribal!

The most engaging part of this Hamilton video for me was how tribal it felt. I think you can agree that it was like viewing a private ritual. It had all of the markings of this type of event: scripted words, honored guests, call and responses, titles and transfers of power, and gift-giving. Like me, you probably laughed along with some of the jokes and probably didn’t laugh at times when the entire group on the video would. Tribes have this sense of existing in ways that are understood and not understood equally by the outside world. (Interestingly so because they spend so much of their life performing Hamilton for an audience.) They did not perform this ritual for you, rather they let you in on their precious moment. Make no mistake, this moment was very special to this tribe!

At Yes! And… Collaborative Arts we recognize these tribal moments. We actively work to create spaces where we can celebrate our tribe. Most importantly though, we are aware of our tribes and seek to use them to make a greater impact on the children and youth that we serve.

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