McCarter, 41, is the co-author with Lin-Manuel Miranda of the book Hamilton: The Revolution. It was McCarter who introduced Miranda to Oskar Eustis, the artistic director of the Public Theater in New York, and that introduction led to Hamilton’s debut at the off-Broadway theater. The rest is history. McCarter, who studied history at Harvard, is also the founder of the Make-Believe Association, a nonprofit production company based in Chicago, and the author of the new book The Young Radicals, a novel about five real Americans fighting for their ideals. McCarter is making an appearance at 7 p.m. Sunday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. When we caught up with McCarter, he described his appearance as "a talk about the extraordinary good fortune to be around the development of Hamilton and how I saw my friend Lin-Manuel and a bunch of insanely talented young artists create a story that is changing the world. It is also about the power of stories.’’ For information on tickets, visit strazcenter.org.
What is on your nightstand?
Leaves of Grass.
What made you decide to pull Walt Whitman off the shelf right now?
It was partly because I love his writing. His poems are strange and evocative, and he has a kind of magic in the way he writes. I also love the impulse that led him to write them in the first place. He felt the U.S. was not just a new country, but a new kind of country, and it needed not just new poems but a new kind of poetry to describe it. I respond to the sense of America’s messy, glorious possibilities. I take it down at least once a year. To me, it is a head space I like to be in — this big sprawling beautiful sense of the American character.
I’m also reading a lot of stories and insights on stories for my company — insights on how stories work and what they do. Two I have loved have been The Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and an amazing new book, The Annotated African American Folktales, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar. It wasn’t a new realization, but I certainly realized even more signs of the richness and the complexity of the African-American storytelling traditions in this country and its influence on the culture at large. It’s wonderful.
Who would you like people to pick up and read for the first time?
I think to answer this, I’ll say one of my all-time favorite writers — Thornton Wilder, and his short novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey is just the most beautiful thing. Wilder has this incredible understanding and sensitivity of the human heart.
Now that Hamilton is not new anymore, can you talk about how it still excites you?
I’m seven years into hearing those songs, and they still amaze me. I still hear new things in them even now.
What is the best part of the success of Hamilton?
It is the kids. It is getting to watch the influence the show has had and is having on young people. It is thrilling. That to me is where the show’s greatest influence will be felt. It is on inspiring thousands and thousands of young people.
Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.