Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 Makes Brief, Tweet-Heavy Return to Campus
Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of “In the Heights,” the 2008 Tony award winner for Best Musical, founder of the improv-rap group Freestyle Love Supreme, and member of the University class of 2002, made a surprise, Twitter-heavy return to campus on Monday. If part of the reason you were so eager to come to Wesleyan was because “In the Heights” was first staged here (like me), this was incredibly exciting. Especially when (also like me) you get out of the shower only to find an email from your Editor-in-Chief telling you that Lin Manuel was tweeting about how he was on campus and asking you to try to run into him.
I immediately grabbed my computer and ran out the door, heading towards Crowell Concert Hall—ten minutes early, he had tweeted a picture of himself there. After wildly wandering the CFA for a few minutes with my computer open and GarageBand on, ready to record in case I actually did run into him, I decided that this was not the best way to find the elusive alumnus. So, taking a cue from my target, I turned to Twitter. I’m not sure if you know (you probably don’t), but the Arts Section does in fact have a Twitter, which I used to tweet at Miranda and ask if he could talk to The Argus for a few minutes. However, he never got the chance to answer. Turning a corner in Usdan immediately after, I saw him standing, talking with another person. I (very discreetly of course) hung excitedly around the edges of the conversation waiting for a time when I could jump in. And jump in I did, hurriedly introducing myself and explaining that I edit the Arts Section of The Argus and that it would be great if he could talk to me for a minute or two.
Miranda was (predictably because he is wonderful) very nice about being verbally accosted by a random out-of-breath college student with wet hair and happily walked and talked with me for a full minute and 30 seconds on his way to the CFA. Here is an exact transcript of the interview (please forgive me, I may or may not have been hyperventilating):
Miranda (after being asked if he could “literally say like five words to me”): Yeah, walk with me to the CFA.
The Argus: Awesome! Cool!
M: This is Quiara, by the way, a co-writer on “In the Heights” (gesturing to the women he was walking with, Quiara Alegíra Hudes, a visiting writer who teaches an Advanced Playwrights’ Workshop on campus).
A: Hi! Nice to meet you!
M: She teaches a playwriting class here. I’m crashing it.
A: Oh my god! They’re going to be so excited.
M: Yeah, [says something that might be “it’s gonna be dope.” I was walking with an open laptop through Usdan, so this interview can get hard to understand.]
A: OK so, are you just on campus to hang out with Quiara and say hi to Wesleyan?
Hudes: He’s going to come talk about writing.
M: Yeah, I’m gonna talk about writing. Talk about writing, looking at the new campus center. I took her on a tour of the CFA, like where I did my senior thesis and where I used to sing with Ebony Singers, you know we’re doing like the—
Hudes: But we didn’t actually make it up to the Heights theater.
M: Yeah, we haven’t made it to the ’92.
A: Yeah, the ’92! They’re doing a thesis dance in there this weekend.
M: I don’t know if Terpsichore (pronounced terp-sik-core-y) is still around…
A: Terpsichore? Yeah!
M: Yeah! I shared the ’92 with Terpsichore that weekend, so I had to stage the whole thing on dance Marley.
[awkward pause, I think I may have been humming something]
M: Anything else you need?
A: Not really. Sorry, I’m actually really surprised I managed to find you!
M: Yeah, that worked out great!
A: Thank you so much for talking to me, nice to meet you.
M: What’s your name?
A: I’m Michelle. Have fun at Playwriting!
M: Will you tweet me a link to the article?
And now we’re here, at the article about The Argus’s exclusive interview with Lin Manuel Miranda. He even tweeted back at us (!!!), and now we are returning the favor. After this interview, he did something probably more important/interesting/fun than this, then he visited the Advanced Playwriting class, where he and Hudes discussed their collaboration on “In the Heights,” as well as writing in general.
Gabe Gordon ’15, a member of the class, wrote in an email to The Argus, “It was awesome to see artistic and creative collaboration in conjunction between two people I view as talented and powerful before my eyes.”
Miranda also talked about his time at Wesleyan; specifically he shared stories about staging his senior thesis, a self-written musical.
“He seemed excited to be there, back in a classroom he once studied in, and he spoke so comfortably and openly with us,” Gordon recounted. “I could tell immediately that this is a person who is doing what he loves.”
Of course, this article is not the only thing you can find that documents Miranda’s fly-by visit to campus. If you’re craving more details, check out his twitter Lin_Manuel. He was tweeting up a storm all day, taking pictures of himself all over campus and even with some lucky students (most notably, the cast of the Second Stage show [title of show], who he twitter-introduced to the original cast of the musical).