Past topics have included American Movies and the Politics of Idealism, Baroque Art, St. Petersburg - Portrait of a City, Film Noir, One Hundred Years of Jazz, Galileo's Legacy, The Realm of Dance, Ten Classical Pieces That Changed Music. The classes are so popular that there is usually a wait list for the overflow of demand.
We are currently enrolled in the 2013 winter session which runs from January 11 through March 22 with classes once a week, lasting 1 hour and 45 minutes. The three series choices were:
- Myths and Legends in Opera - Mondays 10am-11:45am
- Frontiers of Medicine - Fridays 10am-11:45am
- Plays that Shook the World - Fridays 1pm-2:45pm
The lectures for our play series are given by Dr. Philippa Sheppard, who teaches English Literature at U of T and has a PhD in English Renaissance Drama from the University of Oxford. We first encountered Dr. Sheppard when we attended a talk she gave at the Toronto Reference Library about Macbeth. It is obvious that this instructor is an expert in her field, and each week we are inundated with fascinating information, images and even video clips.
The first week concentrated on Greek plays, which dealt with religion, human values and stresses and featured interaction with Gods and external forces. We learned that the actors were untrained citizen volunteers and risked being stoned to death for an unfavourable performance! Roman plays were less serious and became the forefront for comedies and musicals, often including acrobatics, juggling, Gladiatorial events, singing and dancing.
Once again, the video clips were the best part of the lecture, since watching them really clarified the points being discussed. We viewed short excerpts from mystery play performances of Noah's Ark and The Second Shepherds' Play. Humour was added to the story of Noah by portraying him as a henpecked husband whose wife did not want to leave her friends to go on the ark. The latter play was about three shepherds who confront a fourth after he steals one of their sheep. The thief and his wife try to disguise the sheep as a baby but their ruse is detected. Later, the three shepherds witness the birth of Baby Jesus, made all the more profound when compared to the "fake baby".
Lego version of this story on YouTube.
We have already learned so much after only two weeks of classes and cannot wait to attend the rest of them. The town hall auditorium in Innis College is a 45 minute brisk walk from our home, so we exercise our bodies and our brains all in one afternoon.