21/11/2016 12:50 GMT | Updated 22/11/2017 05:12 GMT

To Ignore Trump's Twitter Tantrums Is To Normalise Him, His Behaviour And His Entire Project


Mike Pence, the vice president-elect of the United States, was booed at the theatre the other night.

He had gone to see Hamilton, the Broadway mega-hit set in 19th Century America. The musical culminates in a vice president of the United States killing the outspoken Hamilton in a duel.

I'm not sure that Pence saw the ending, because what ended up being killed was Pence's evening, when the audience expressed their opinion of his presence in their midst.

Of course Trump took to Twitter, clutching his metaphorical pearls like the Dowager Countess of Grantham, screeching that he had never heard anything good about the show anyway, in spite of the fact that his daughter Ivanka raved about it last April or so. "Theatres should be safe spaces" and "Apologize!", he ranted. Pence has reportedly told his kids regarding his night at the theatre: "That's what democracy sounds like."

However, there immediately appeared on Twitter a #BoycottHamilton hashtag - after frantic Google searches to find out what Hamilton was.

Many people - including myself - hope that this boycott succeeds, temporarily, of course, because the show is sold out for two years and impossible to get tickets to.

And thus the 'Trump train', with its Chairman of the Board POTUS, roars ahead. It is amazingly fragile at things like booing and being called 'deplorable', so we all have to protect these snowflakes by watching what we say. Not.

The Russian-born writer Masha Gessen, an expert on dictators and demagogues, calls the entire Trump thing and its various sinews and tentacles a "reality-show version of the mafia state. Only arguments of loyalty hold, vendettas transcend time and power. But it's public, made for TV."

Booing is an old and honourable tradition in the theatre. Anyone who goes there regularly know this; and anyone who makes theatre does, too.

I used to be on the board of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and there were always loads of regulars who made sure they sat in the front row of every performance of what was on offer. This was so that they could boo - which they did vigorously and loudly - and which you came to expect if you went to the opera or if you performed it. That's the way it is.

Booing in the theatre is rare, but you can bet that this New York City Hamilton audience turned away from the stage to express its opinion of the entire Trump disaster and of Pence, in particular, a guy who thinks that electricity can 'ungay' you.

And as we who hate all things Trump, and who make theatre too, applauded the NYC Theatre Resistance, there floated up an idea that Don the Con was, once again, playing us.

Jack Shafer wrote on Politico regarding Twitter and what Don the Con must be thinking:

"Got 'em again", he thought. "Yesterday's settlement of the Trump University lawsuit is the real news, but my Twitter incitement will dominate all else for at least 12 hours as people tweet, "How could he?", "Oh, now he's for safe spaces?" and "Don't tell artists what to say or do!" Haven't any of these people raised children? Don't they know about bait and switch?"

But it is Masha Gessen, the expert on demagogues, who gives us the real deal: "The Hamilton hissy fit is not a distraction, it's the essence of the danger. First and most important is attack on the public sphere."

To ignore Trump's Twitter tantrums is to normalise him; his behaviour and his entire project. In a nation based on human rights, an open society, there is nothing 'normal' about what may be ahead.

Get ready to boo a lot... in more ways than one.