Online & In-Person Courses

I teach cultural studies classes throughout the year at The Studios of Key West. Each course runs three or four consecutive weeks, designed to be 90 minutes with 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, Keynote presentation and discussion. Classes are limited to 16 participants.

Trigger Warnings! Suicide, Lies, Prostitution & Murder In Late 19th C. Theatre

In late 19th century the genre of naturalism emerged in Europe out of an atmosphere of political, cultural and social turmoil. With graphic plots, settings and explicit themes, playwrights sought to depict contemporary circumstances on the stage. Through reading, viewing and discussion, we will examine texts by Henrik Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw, August Strindberg and Emile Zola to see if we still recognize our 2023 “selves” in these seminal works.

Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes

A close-reading and discussion of Tony Kushner’s monumental, subversive and remarkable masterwork. One of the late-20th-century’s most important pieces of dramatic literature, this funny, searching play about sex, power and religion is a radical rethinking of the American political drama. Through the use of “magical realism” Kushner examines both cosmic and human obsessions in the American consciousness. This seminar-style class will examine both Millennium Approaches and Perestroika.

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.