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Turning a West End musical on its head

American revolutionary tale, Hamilton, has been taking theatre audiences by storm both in London and across the Atlantic in the USA.

One person who knows this story inside out is Michael Jibson, the award-winning actor who plays King George III in the current London cast. But Michael was introduced to the story of his character from a completely different perspective when he was invited to see some of the remarkable collection of the king’s documents held by the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle.

Over the past few years, King’s has played an important role in digitalising these papers as part of the Georgian Papers Programme. This has led to over 350,000 pages of historical documents from the Georgian Archives, including the official and private papers of King George III, being made available online. The original papers are only available to view by a select few though.

Oceans rise and empires fall: linking history to Hamilton

The Georgian Papers Programme curated a unique exhibition especially for Michael, linking references to King George III in Hamilton to those found in historical documents. They even organised the exhibits around themes highlighted in some of the songs the actor performs in his depiction of King George III.

Professors Karin Wulf, academic director of the Georgian Papers Programme, explains, "There is one crucial line which features in all three songs, 'Oceans rise, empires fall.' This really inspired us when we were creating the exhibition because it underlines the wider perspective of the programme."

The digital exhibition

The programme team also decided to produce a virtual version of the exhibition available online, so that fans of Hamilton could have the opportunity to tread digitally in the actor’s footsteps.

Professor Arthur Burns, Academic Director of the Georgian Papers Programme said, "We are interested in contemporary representations of the Georgian period, and of King George III himself. Michael Jibson’s visit was, therefore, an exciting one for us, bringing one of his foremost interpreter’s face to face with George’s own documents in his home at Windsor Castle."

He added, "Hamilton represents a fresh new direction in musical theatre and the Georgian Papers Programme enabled the meeting of old and new, which proved extremely fruitful."

Find out more about the Georgian Papers Programme

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