I often teach distance learning cultural studies classes throughout the year at The Studios of Key West. Each course runs three consecutive weeks and is designed to be 90 minutes with some pre-assigned reading and viewing of video clips or films. My course subject matter often deals with groups who have been considered to be outside the “mainstream.” The methodology is lecture using Keynote with open discussion following and are usually limited to 12 screens so everyone can see each other and participate.
Stephen Sondheim & the Reinvention of the American Musical
Starting with “Company” (1970) through “Passion” (1994) Sondheim’s ability as both a composer and a lyricist have led to remarkable changes in the crafting of the American musical. This three-session course looks in depth at three groundbreaking shows: “Sweeney Todd” (1979), “Sunday in the Park with George” (1984) and “Into the Woods” (1986) through a socio-cultural lens.
Sunrise, Sunset: The Americanization of Jewish Culture
From the roots of the Jewish diaspora, to the emergence of the Yiddish language in the early Middle Ages, the themes of suffering and survival have been associated with Judaism. Though an examination of Alechim’s book “Tevye, the Dairyman” published in 1894, we trace how his stories, adapted into the classic musical, Fiddler on the Roof, set the stage for the thematic universality of a myriad of world cultures.
Exploring Gender and Sexual Identity Through Musical Theatre
An examination of three seminal works of theatre: Cabaret (1966), Hedwig & the Angry Inch (1998) and Fun Home (2006) explored through both a socio-cultural and socio-political lens, that departed from traditional structure by introducing innovations in the craft of libretto, music & lyrics. Each work examines the sexual lives of its principal characters using the conventions of musical theatre to edify, educate and entertain. Methodology includes reading and streaming content in advance of each class.
Rising from the Wine Dark Sea: Greek Tragedy for the 21st Century
Delve into the timeless relevance of Greek tragedy by reading, interpreting and re-contextualizing five plays by Euripides, Aeschylus & Sophocles.
West Side Story: A Cultural Perspective on an American Tragedy
Is it racism that precipitated the tragedy in West Side Story and not just miscommunication as in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet? How does the marginalization of outsiders keep repeating itself in the story of America? How did four gay men: Bernstein, Sondheim, Laurents & Robbins create a musical which captures the universality of the immigrant experience and provide the basis for racial conflict in mid-20th century urban life? We look at the journey from “East Side Story” to “West Side Story” through a socio-cultural and socio-political lens to examine how the universals from Shakespeare in 1597 are still admissible in 2020.