The show must go on: Elon presents virtual Liberal Arts Forum Lecture with ‘Hamilton’ star

Originally scheduled for March 25 in Whitley Auditorium but canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, the Liberal Arts Forum Lecture by "Hamilton" star Bryan Terrell Clark is now available to all Elon audiences online.

Not one to throw away its shot, the Liberal Arts Forum is presenting a highly anticipated lecture this week, despite multiple complications due to fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The spring 2020 Liberal Arts Forum Lecture with Bryan Terrell Clark will now be presented to the Elon community virtually. The lecture, “Finding Purpose: From Baltimore to Broadway’s Hamilton,” is available now via video platform Kaltura.

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“Elon, I just have to honestly say that I’m so grateful for technology that we can be here together today,” Clark says to begin the virtual lecture. “Our country, our world has been experiencing a crisis like none other, and I just really believe that light shines brightest in sometimes the darkest of times.”

Bryan Terrell Clark, known for his starring role as George Washington in “Hamilton: An American Musical,” is the 2020 Liberal Arts Forum Lecture speaker.

Clark, known for his starring role as George Washington in the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit “Hamilton: An American Musical,” has made it his mission to help as many young people as possible find their unique purpose in life. In the lecture, he connects his experiences on Broadway and the entertainment industry to relatable, real-life issues, like tackling insecurity and finding motivation, encouraging everyone to define themselves on their own terms and to create a positive impact on others.

“There is no other you on the planet,” Clark says. “You are authentically yourself. There is no other person that’s going to see the world through your eyes, and what’s powerful about that is that is your gift, that is your gift to us.”

The virtual lecture was made possible thanks to efforts by the Liberal Arts ForumCultural and Special ProgramsTeaching and Learning Technologies and the university’s Community Building Team.

“That’s the beautiful thing about being at Elon,” said Patti Gibbons, associate director of Cultural and Special Programs. “Everyone is always so willing to help, so willing to bring good ideas and improvements, and it’s just part of the culture. It always has been.”

Clark was originally scheduled to present the Liberal Arts Forum’s annual spring lecture on March 25 at Whitley Auditorium. However, the on-campus event was canceled once Elon transitioned to online learning and canceled all on-campus events to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

That’s when several departments and organizations from across the Elon community came up with a Plan B. The lecture was to be recorded at the Elon in Los Angeles studios with Jason McMerty, director of the Elon in LA program and assistant professor of cinema and television arts. But, that plan was thwarted with the announcement of a stay-at-home order for the state of California.

Fortunately, the effort to make this event happen didn’t end there. Gibbons says Clark then offered to tape the lecture from inside his Los Angeles home.

The video was edited by Video Producer Ted Moree and features a creative introduction by Liberal Arts Forum Co-President Emily Wilkes ’20.

“When I heard that this was a possibility, I really was on board and excited and eager to help in any way possible to make it happen,” said Wilkes, who is serving in her fourth year as a member of the Liberal Arts Forum and her third year as co-president, leading the student organization that brings guests to Elon to engage the community in conversations about current interdisciplinary topics.

“I think it’s even more important that we do hear Brian’s message because it’s times like this that we find and are able to tap into our most creative selves,” Wilkes said. “I think that his message will be really important and hopefully bring a lot of joy and inspiration and peace to everyone and their artistic, creative sides in quarantine.”

As they say in show business, “The show must go on!”