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Interlude (Rise Up)

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BURR
How does a bastard, orphan, upstart and adulterer
end up where we see him, held up in the cult of the
American dream, all bootstraps and rage?
His writings and his rantings spilled across every page
of a new age, a new stage, his narrative reclaimed
not by those who seek glory,
but by those who'd see history
rewritten, renamed, reframed to be his story.

Alexander Hamilton, father of our money,
you threw yourself at life, and hey, isn't it funny:
if you know how many people you touched, and who wanted you,
you'd probably haunt this place for life.
You'd probably be insufferable.

Enough for now: we're gonna take
a break in the action, a moment of repose;
and heaven knows with Hamilton
there's precious few of those.

Seventeen-something, an interlude.
The exact date doesn’t matter for this, dude, let's set the mood:
Alexander sleeps, on his papers he rests his head
and dreams that he's someplace else,
a place that has a bed
that's spacious and luxurious, empty and large.
What partners, what sweet agonies
await our protagonist?

HAMILTON
What's going on here?
Burr, have you abducted me?

BURR
No. Just your average sexual fantasy.

Let's start with the obvious candidate, shall we?
Your eyes met, your minds met,
now neither of you can forget.
And though you're happy with her sister,
you can't dismiss her. You persist, sir, in wondering:
should you have kissed her?
Would she be equally as fiery
if the join of her thighs met
the joining of yours?

Keep dreaming, it's safer. You save her
from scandal, and save her dear sister.
There's no need for blame,
no need to besmirch
their respectable, electable, prosperous name.
And even if this lady's desires were the same,
it isn't her style to be left in the lurch.
She tried her own search;
she found a man who'd take her to Church,
spend his dimes on her,
spend his time with her,
instead of spending all his time at

ANGELICA
Work!

BURR
Work.

HAMILTON
Forgive me, my dearest Angelica.
You don’t write the systems of a brand new nation
without learning the power of some punctuation,
the use of a comma or two in flirtation.
What I feel for you deserves more than a harmless game,
and if you don't feel the same
I'll consume my words, I'll be hung
like a proposition--um, preposition--
left dangling in the air, a precarious position
like the one I put you in
(you see what I did there?)
by writing what I'm writing,
and doing what we're doing.

'Cuz honestly, my letters might have got a bit flirty.
My mind's been working and its work is gettin' dirty.
Gripping my pen that I dipped in
the ink as I wink and I think of all the commas I slipped in
between words, all unheard if you spoke them aloud,
but there on the page--well, a penstroke's allowed.

Come and stay with us.
Come, and stay with us.

ANGELICA
I read like the words might fly off the page,
I take books by the mouthful.
It's doubtful there's a man alive who'd strive
half as hard as I've tried
to slake this thirst, this drive,
who'd contrive for such learning.

And still, I've a yearning that's only for you.
You don't know the hunger that starts to rise
whenever your letters are dropped in my lap
(yes, the join of my thighs)
to unfold with my hands and devour with my eyes.

Do you remember the day we met?
You in boots needing polish,
me needling you, in my favourite dress.
Each day I replay what I instantly knew on
that day, when I saw what I'd never possess.
The day we entangled ourselves in this mess.
In so many ways we're an ideal match:
a reader so ravenous, a writer who has in his
arsenal the whole damn world, who hurled
his brilliance right at me. Irony: discuss.

I could have my catch of all the world's men.
And yet here I am, I say again,
the best fit for your busy, unmatchable pen.
Dearest brother Alexander,
dearest comma Alexander,
England’s full of things to love, it's true,
but still no one can quite measure up to you.

BURR
Boom! That's what she said.

ANGELICA
Burr, go suck a fishhead.

HAMILTON
No kisses, but at least I can think of you reading, leisurely
devouring my missives while I'm running Treasury.
But hey! If you’re in England, who was doing the measuring?

ELIZA
Alexander, are you really surprised to see me here?
Surely, if anyone has the right to be here...
Or should I be flattered that despite your busy life
you can still spare some libido to dream about your wife?

I know my sister like the back of my hand.
(If you’d had siblings, darling, you might understand.)
Since we were young she’s been the one to feed my mind,
and now that she’s crossed the seas and left us behind
it’s my season to be generous, feed her imagination
with just the right tidbits of information.
Like the way your eyes darken whenever I tease
and the way your mouth looks around words like please...

I’ve shared you with the nation, your demons, the war.
I can share my Alexander with a few people more
if I approve the lineup myself--it's okay!
I've often heard you say, dear,
yes, didn't you always say

ELIZA/HAMILTON
I wish our dear Angelica was here.

BURR
Heavens to Betsy! Let's see:
two sisters, both alike in dignity.
And why not Peggy? She's another Schuyler;
why shouldn't you desire her?
There's room enough to spare, sir,
swimmin' around in this bed of plenty
(though the Mormons won't be founded until 1820).
You can invite another person if you dare, sir,
why not write a note? That's right,
the proof and the truth is in the letters you wrote.
Now who's this coming by to
show that even two women aren't enough to satisfy you?

HAMILTON
Laurens!

LAURENS
This ain’t without precedent.
Didn’t you recently think of me? Similarly--
didn’t you issue a written enticement
to stick around after the wedding bells pealed,
a third wheel in your nuptial bed?
(Alex, Eliza’d have had my head!)

But it’s certainly true,
no friend of mine’s been closer
and no friend’s been closer to you.
No body knows yours like I do, its shape and its size.
We won the prize, we won our freedom.
And as for wives--oh sure, we need ‘em,
but I loved you first, and in that I take pride.
And I pride myself still, no man loves you better.
I tried to prove this with each letter.
I never had your way with words
(Alexander, no one has your way with words)
but you know I tried, for you;
you know I'd die for you,
over and over and over again.

HAMILTON
Dear John--shit, no! That sounds like I'm dumping you,
when in fact you know I came this close to jumping you.
I measure every mile that comes between us
like my wife (apparently) measures my--

LAURENS
Wow.

HAMILTON
God, no, fuck--look, I’m gonna start again.
My tongue won’t wrap itself around you; can’t I just use my pen?

When we met, we were boys: so fresh and so new.
I was desperate to fly.
I was carving my path to the things I could do.
And then, out of the blue, there was you!
And it’s true what ensued was demure
from one point of view.
We laughed and we talked and we drank. Formed our crew.
But I’d never had friends before, had no inner guidebook;
look, I didn’t know casual, I couldn’t fake formal.
Thought: maybe this fire in my blood is normal?
Just a thing that you feel, yo.
Bros being bros, you know?

...hell no.

Now I’m bent on resenting each day we’re apart
but I’ve learned the art of yearning,
of craving the moment that’s passed.
You taught me to miss things.
I’ve always learned fast.

And still, my own Laurens, you always know how to
pierce me, run me through and through
with every letter you send, every letter that ends
dear boy, adieu.

Not only duellers but lovers can demand satisfaction.
If you think I'm good with words, you should see me with actions.

BURR
How touching. How sweet.
Two heroes of our recent strife,
building a union with their own two hands.
Striving to find a more perfect communion
of bodies and souls. And if that's true, then
as for his wife…? Well, I hear she understands.
Just as in life, they come together, make a stand.
And just as in life, they're interrupted by the General.

WASHINGTON
Hamilton, my man. It's a new role for me, this ephemeral
projection of your predilection to go for
the unreachable, instead of what's achievable.
Head full of fantasies, yeah, that's you all over.
You've got a hunger so vast it's unbelievable,
I got a face worth sticking on a few dollar bills.
Huh, sure, I guess a crush ain't inconceivable.
But still, I'm not sure why you'd think of me with ardor. Burr?

BURR
It comes from growing up without a father, sir.

WASHINGTON
He's got a point.
I've always thought of you dearly,
seen myself in you. And you fought to work with me,
defend my name and earn my trust.
I guess the way you see me's
a bit of Oedipus and a bit of Narcissus.

And then that obsession with your legacy.
Yeah, that's a trait that you share with me.
Your name will live on, you always meant,
and one day they'll build me a monument.
I'm thinkin' something tall, a tower that's firm
and lasting, my power preserved, a long-term
mast in a sea of fresh grass--yeah, I like that.

But I'm distracting us both from the plan of attack.
I never thought that I would lie on you,
but Alex, I've relied on you. Don't leave me in this jam,
come closer! We deserve this.
It's nice to see a youth so keen to be of service.
Sure, I could use your strong right hand, man.

HAMILTON
Your Excellency, sir, there's been some mistake.

WASHINGTON
Relax, have a drink and you'll
see our ship's unsinkable.

HAMILTON
It's not that I'm saying it's totally unthinkable.
For sure, sir, I respect you. There's no use
my pretending to be so obtuse
not to see in this--maybe--a glimmer of truth;
in the way I pursued you, a hint of a courtship.
I'd never sink your ships; my lips aren't that loose.

It's no secret I'm planning for my epitaph,
cramming my legacy into every paragraph.
And yes, I was keen to be on your staff
and no other's--

BURR
I'll say.

HAMILTON
God, Burr, go away.

But sir, that doesn't translate to a--wait.
This shouldn't be a debate! I shouldn't have to restate
my motives, demote and self-deprecate
the things I've done in order to exonerate
myself--there's nothing here that's true
or that I need to repudiate!

I want to wake up before this gets much stranger,
or else steer the course of this discourse out of danger.
I should be able to choose the themes.
I write my own story; I can write my own dreams.

BURR
It seems you’ll go to great lengths to deny you
enjoy the strength of Washington behind you.

At first, I agree, it seemed unlikely,
but consider this: you are a bit in love with yourself
(or at least your own vocabulary)
and none knows better how hunger feels.
You greased the wheels
of every one of Washington's machinations.
So I'd buy this adoration,
this moving feast of Hamilton's flirtation,
this yeast in the dough of your ambition.
Yeah, he's the one that helped you rise;
why wouldn't you feel the heat that this implies?

And something here is unlikelier yet:
I can't believe you'd stand there and refuse a debate!
Is this the Alexander I know and...tolerate?
When plain words are denied then you turn to curses;
won't swallow your pride but you'll spit some verses.
Your lips set loose carnage,
it's always the way: the oh so articulate Hamilton, versus
the Bursar, and Seabury, and even Lee--hell, seems to me
what you need and esteem is someone to spar with.

And so: everybody come say hello
to the Sage of Monticello!

JEFFERSON
Yo!

HAMILTON
Oh no.

BURR
The issue on the table: Secretary Hamilton's increasingly convoluted attempts to deny that his own imagination eagerly embraces the prospect of having sex with every significant figure in his life, and especially his adversaries. Secretary Jefferson, the floor is yours.

JEFFERSON
It should come as no surprise to anybody who knows him
that Hamilton's got eyes for anybody who throws him
a volley, a mention, a point of contention.
You want this tomcat's attention?
All you gotta do is oppose him.

Exhibit A: the fine specimen you now see before you.
As we resume our dance on the cabinet floor, you
can hardly deny, Mr President--

HAMILTON
Uh, the President's left.

BURR
Yeah, who knows where the hell he went.

JEFFERSON
Ooh, a private confrontation.
Ain't that a telling situation?
In this New York winter of your discontent
you're dreamin' up orgies. Well, in any event,
I trust you'll grasp the thrust of my argument.

I know you're a small man, maybe you've got big weaponry?
As I gaze down upon you from my own six-three,
it seems plain to me,
a lot of this stems from sheer jealousy.
And don't we all want the things we know we'll never be?
Look up and it's my eyes you'll see;
look down and you'll see my ascendency.

Yeah, I'm the kind of man that your kind of men go for.
Stay awhile, raise a glass:
in the end, we'll see who tells who to bend over.

HAMILTON
Who tells whom, Christ, who let you into this room
with your six foot two and your Goddamn imprecision?
Step away from that bed--

JEFFERSON
You mean the inside of your head?
I didn't make this decision, it's not me who's running this.
You're the gent who's intent on makin' it with your nemesis.

BURR
He said what?

HAMILTON
Burr, just stop with the parentheses.

BURR
I'll be blunt, I'm upfront with my own poor jealousies
around the dubious honor of being your nemesis.
It's not that I'm spiteful, but if there were such a title,
I beg to differ: I'd win it.
Though I admit, the competition's getting stiffer by the minute...

KING GEORGE
You say--

HAMILTON
Oh, fuck.

KING GEORGE
--that the size of my love
is a prize that you miss more each day.
You pray
I'll chastise you and bind you and show you my shades of gray.
Well, we'll see.
If you've learned some respect for my crown and have learned to obey,
my dear colony,
then come to my arms and bow down, and I'll bend you over my knee...

How's that taste?
Spiffing, wot?
Mind your tongue; the royal tea is hot.

You've craved my touch
since we had a tiff,
still you'll find that my sceptre is stiff.

Oceans rise,
so does my--

BURR
Dictators and tyrants, that's who you're letting in?
For shame, sir, forgetting in your lust we don't trust
the Empire, its kings, its rule and taxation--
Hamilton, this is certainly an education.

HAMILTON
England? Burr, you've heard my rank indignation
and what my stance is on trans-Atlantic relations.
I would rather go dance with any other nation.

LAFAYETTE [OFF]
I will love you à la françoise!

HAMILTON
That was not an invitation!

BURR
Well done, you've booted Georgie back out of your head;
banished the Schuylers--indeed, the whole treble clef--
and your highly needy, dearly devoted BFF.
Your debating foe's gone, ditto for your daddy issues.
Is it time to go alone? Fetch the lotion and tissues?
Who's left to fill Hamilton's lonely bed?

HAMILTON
You needn't look so smug and knowing.

BURR
Who's been taking his time
while the tension's been growing?

HAMILTON
You, Burr? Forget it!

BURR
It's true, sir:
you know that I could get it.

HAMILTON
Ha!

BURR
I'll be brief: call the jury in, you'll see your doubt's injurious.
What, you're telling me you aren't a little curious
to see what we could do, together, if we're able?

HAMILTON
Our partnership is not the issue on the table.

BURR
The table, the bed… No need to look so furious!
I'm confident, sir, if you'll let me resume,
I can prove beyond doubt that I'm the one in the room,
all others merely in the foyer.
Come on, you admitted it: who's the better lawyer?

HAMILTON
Alright, I'm game. I'll mount my defence.
You're all facts, no eloquence--sir, it makes a difference!
You're better at exactness, but I'm better at emotion,
at riling up the courtroom and causing a commotion.
I'll argue this case 'til I'm blue in the face.
Burr, believe me, I'm not saying this to spite you,
it's as simple as this: I don't like you like you

BURR
Well, excuse me. We're in your fantasy, friend,
and fancy that, you choose me! Who's here, at the end?
Your defence ain't the only thing you're thinking of mounting.

HAMILTON
Come on!

BURR
Secretary Hamilton, belay that shouting!
You protest too much, there's certainly no doubting
the other figments of your own brain would agree,
and so far there's been seven, plus me--but who's counting?
And even Jefferson? Man, you really have no taste.
You know it's a waste
to throw your shots away on a lesser body than mine.
I'll rock you like a hurricane--

HAMILTON
Now who's being tasteless?

BURR
Admit it! Sparks have always flown between us
despite this enmity that's grown between us
I could send you to hell, or could take you to heaven.
That's right--call a doctor--I'm 'a draw my weapon

HAMILTON
Big words from a man who won't spit or swallow.
A man who'd barely nod if he met me tomorrow
in the middle of the street.

Burr, when we first met, I was inspired by you,
admired how you pursued what you desired.
I wanted so badly to be your friend,
to do what you'd done and to--like you!--ascend.
I hungered for what you had: your money, education.
I had a passion that only came crashing in vain
against the bluffs of your rational brain,
and was never enough. It's plain to see
my hunger was my only leverage.

And sure, your body's better than the average,
I admire your ambition, your mind's a razor--
but was there ever a lazier genius? Jesus! You wanna talk waste?
We could have been great,
maybe incandescent,
if it weren't for your adolescent
waiting, your cautious prevaricating: "Talk less!" "Let's wait!"

So tell me this, Aaron Burr, sir:
why should I give it all for you?
You stand for nothing.

BURR
Ah, but I might fall for you.

Lazy, coward, these are the names you'd pin to me.
A coward dies a hundred times,
a brave man once and then he's free.
But I know we're the same in this: I know we've tried
to breathe into the fear, to imagine we've died.
It takes another hundred breaths before you feel alive.
A hundred deaths, all crowding here as close as any memory.
You're too proud, my friend,
you never learn. It'll undo you in the end.

HAMILTON
Did I start whistling, am I a kettle
to take that from you, Monsieur Pot?

BURR
Whistling? No;
but you're sure darn hot.

HAMILTON
Someone's blowing hot air, that's for sure,
and if you can't take the heat, as they say,
then get out.

BURR
Monsieur Kettle, I'm not the one with a spout,
but I'll say this: peace, I will stop your mouth.

HAMILTON
Seriously? Don't be absurd, Burr.
Do you really find the spar of minds so hard
that you resort to sporting come-ons by the Bard?
Fine, I'll play. Peace? I hate the word.

BURR
Oh, I'm sorry, do you want the war back?
We orphan lads, we had our chance to claw back
our honor. We know our worth; we showed our birth no barrier.
No regrets, see? You looked to a heavenly body--

HAMILTON
Hey--

BURR
You even married her.
Heavenly Betsey.
But that wasn't enough, no, Alexander can't be satisfied.
And how they've tried!
We've seen the parade, the whole damn cavalcade,
this bed's unmade from all the men and women
passing through it.
They just keep coming, and coming.
And yet it seems impossible to stop your mouth from running.
If ever two lips cried out to be silenced, well, they're yours.
And I'm the man to do it

HAMILTON
By deathless death?
I see the prosecution rests.

BURR
Alexander?

HAMILTON
What?

BURR
Talk less.