The Center for Life and Learning:
   Special-Topic Classes

Center for Life and Learning (CLL) special-topic classes bring in experts from the Chicago area to enrich our annual curriculum and provide a flexible avenue of participation. One need not be a CLL member to register. The special-topic classes cover a broad range of topics from politics to bridge to the humanities; come and check us out!

For information about our special-topic classes, contact Sue Hakes at 312.981.3389.

From Page to Stage: Bringing Shakespeare to Life

Spring Film Series

Great Pieces for Keyboards

Beginning Tap Dance

Elizabeth I: Women, Ruler, Myth

Masterpieces of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Through Egyptian Eyes

Explorations with Jane Hunt

Emma: An Exploration of Jane Austen’s Novel

A Loving Elegy for Mary Oliver

Painting in India: From Caves to Contemporary

Lunch and Learn: A Room with a View


 From Page to Stage: Bringing Shakespeare to Life

   Mondays, April 1–15
   2:45–4:00 p.m.
   Led by Jeremy Pfaff
   Register online here

For more than four hundred years the works of Shakespeare have been a mainstay of amateur and professional theater; yet bringing Shakespeare’s text to life is a uniquely demanding task. Actors and directors must mine the centuries-old text for clues in the rhythm and verse, consider relevant historical and cultural details, and, finally, present it to a modern audience in a way that is relatable and—above all—understandable. In this course, we’ll examine some of the techniques actors employ when preparing a Shakespearean role, listen to and view some notable performances, and discuss the ways our expectations and enjoyment of Shakespeare have evolved in recent history. (No acting, performing, or soliloquizing required.)

Jeremy Pfaff is a Chicago-based actor. He received his master of fine arts in acting from the Theatre School at DePaul University and has worked with Remy Bumppo Theatre, the Gift Theatre, Sideshow Theatre Company, and Raven Theatre, among others. He currently lives in Hyde Park with his wife and their two sons.

$25 CLL members
$40 CLL guest registrants

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Spring Film Series

   Wednesdays, April 3–May 8
    1:45–3:45 p.m.

   Free and open to all 60 and older; no RSVP necessary

An optional, facilitated discussion, lasting no more than thirty minutes, will follow each film.

Wednesday, April 17
Tea with the Dames (2018)

Dames Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Maggie Smith let the cameras in on a friendship that goes back more than half a century. The four acting greats discuss their careers and reminisce about their humble beginnings in the theatre. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. (1 hour, 24 min)

Wednesday, April 24
Leave No Trace (2018)

After living off the grid in Oregon for years, a traumatized military veteran and his teenage daughter are forced to integrate into society. While the daughter begins to connect with others and thrive, the veteran struggles and attempts to avoid his demons by escaping back into the wild. The New York Times said, “(i)n its best moments, Leave No Trace invites you to simply be with its characters, to see and experience the world as they do. Empathy, the movie reminds you, is something that is too little asked of you either in life or in art.” (1 hour, 49 min)

Wednesday, May 1
Green Book (2018)

Based on a true story, this Oscar's Best Picture film follows a working-class Italian-American bouncer, played by Viggo Mortensen, who becomes the driver for an African-American classical pianist, played by Mahershala Ali, on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South. (2 hours, 10 min)

Wednesday, May 8
Vice (2018)

Christian Bale plays Dick Cheney in this film about the most powerful vice president in recent American history. The New York Times says, “staying close to the historical record (and drawing on books by the journalists Jane Mayer and Barton Gellman), (the film) propounds a negative great man theory of history, telling the story of an individual who was able, through a unique combination of discipline, guile and luck, to bend reality to his will.” (2 hours, 12 min)

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Great Pieces for Keyboards: Organ, Clavichord, Harpsichord, Piano, and Celesta

   Mondays, April 8–June 10 (No class on April 22 or May 27)
   11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
   Led by Stephen Kleiman
   Register online here

This class will explore the great keyboard music from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century. Keyboard music has always been the ideal of composers throughout the centuries. So as keyboards developed technologically, so did the music become ever more complex. Besides looking at how these keyboard instruments developed, we will look at the fact that, perhaps, they are developing in ways we never suspected.


We will also look briefly at the keyboards that are in the percussion family: glockenspiel, xylophone, vibraphone, and marimba.

Stephen Kleiman holds a bachelor’s degree from the Mannes College of Music and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan. An orchestra conductor in Europe and former music director of the National Chamber Orchestra in Washington, D.C., his compositions have been performed internationally and recently at Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti), International Chamber Artists (Chicago), the Longy School (Boston), the Newberry Library (Chicago), Music at Eden's Edge (Beverly Farms, Massachusetts) and the Chicago Danz Theatre.

$50 for CLL members
$65 for guest registrants

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Beginning Tap Dance

   Mondays, April 8–June 10 (No class on April 22 or May 27)
   11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
   Led by Susan Fay
   Register online here

If you grew up wishing you could sail away on the Good Ship Lollipop, this class is for you! Unleash your inner Shirley Temple, have fun, and work those ankles and feet in this introductory tap class. Prior knowledge of tap is welcome but not required.

Susan Fay has a M.A. in Dance Education from Northwestern University and is a certified Silver Sneakers instructor. She is also a professional actor, having worked with theaters such as Lookingglass Theatre Company, the Court Theatre, Harftord Stage Company, Montana Shakespeare Theater, and many more.

$55 for CLL members
$70 for guest registrants

Tap shoes required. These are available at Motion Unlimited, beginning at $36.00: http://www.motionunlimiteddancewear.com/index.html

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Elizabeth I: Woman, Ruler, Myth

   Tuesdays, April 9–30
   1:30–3:00 p.m.
   Led by Jeff Nigro and John Nygro
   Register online here

As a female ruler in a man’s world, Queen Elizabeth I turned perceived disadvantages into strengths by inspiring the greatest creative talents of the English Renaissance. Poetry, music, portraiture, drama, even fashion and cosmetics were employed to portray her as an exceptional personality. We will examine Elizabeth’s transformation from human ruler into myth through the writing of Shakespeare and Spenser, the music of Dowland and Morley, and the paintings of Hillard and Gheeraerts.

Jeff Nigro is an art historian, lecturer, and educator. Jeff has had a professional relationship with the Art Institute of Chicago for twenty-five years, first as a staff lecturer and then as Director of Adult Programs in the Department of Museum Education.

John Nygro is a lecturer, musician, and actor with a career spanning more than thirty years. As a lecturer, he has spoken on a number of subjects from classical theater and opera to medieval and Renaissance music to film and television.

$45 for CLL members
$60 for guest registrants

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Masterpieces of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

   Wednesdays, April 10–May 15
   10:00–11:30 a.m.
   Led by John Nygro
   Register online here

*Class for May 8 and 15 is canceled and will be rescheduled*

Tchaikovsky’s music displays his distinctive personality through expansive and passionate melodies, strong dramatic contrasts, and a romantic sensibility unmatched during the nineteenth century. Drawing on Tchaikovsky’s rich and varied output, we will view performances of a variety his works including grand symphonic pieces, tragic operas, melodic ballet scores, intimate songs, powerful concertos, and rarely-heard chamber music.

John Nygro is a lecturer, musician, and actor with a career spanning more than thirty years. As a lecturer, he has spoken on a number of subjects from classical theater and opera to medieval and Renaissance music to film and television.

$40 for CLL members
$55 for guest registrants

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Through Egyptian Eyes

   Thursdays, May 2–June 6
   11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
   Led by Brian Smith
   Register online here

This course examines modalities of ancient Egyptian art and literature within the larger frameworks of how the Egyptians uniquely perceived the universe and their place in it. Topics such as theology, cultural memory, and the nature of the Egyptian state will set the framework of the course using 3,500 years of primary source material in art historical and archaeological materials, and texts in translation. Resources will include lectures supplemented by electronic media, scholarly articles, and suggested readings.

Brian Smith attended the University of Arkansas, where he earned his bachelor's degree in anthropology and archaeology. Before graduating, he was chosen by the University of Pennsylvania to excavate in India, Thailand, and repeated trips to Egypt where he served as Chief Ceramicist with the joint Yale/Institute of Fine Arts, New York. Brian received a master's in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis with a concentration in ancient Egyptian Art and Archaeology, including the classic forms of the hieroglyphic script. He concluded his education at the University of Chicago, where he is currently employed in the Graham School, teaching courses in ancient Egyptian culture, Near Eastern civilizations, and ancient religions.

$50 for CLL members
$65 for guest registrants

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Explorations with Jane Hunt

   Wednesdays, May 8–29
   10:30–11:30 a.m.
   Led by Jane Hunt
   Register online here

Celebrating her twenty-fifth year with us, award-winning teacher Jane Hunt leads this popular class through a new topic based in the humanities each week. This spring topics will include political polarization, World War I, and technology.

Jane Hunt is a retired College of DuPage English and humanities instructor and has been on faculty at the CLL since 1992. She is a graduate of DePauw University and Indiana University and enjoys formulating questions on diverse topics and then looking for answers with her classes.

Free for CLL members
$25 for guest registrants

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Emma: An Exploration of Jane Austen’s Novel

   Wednesdays, May 15–29
   1:45–3:00 p.m.
   Led by Jeff Nigro
   Register online here

Emma (1815) is often described as Jane Austen’s literary masterpiece. Austen herself admitted that she had created “a heroine whom no one but myself will much like,” and, indeed, Emma Woodhouse has her fair share of critics (although she has plenty of admirers as well). We will explore the novel's gallery of memorable characters, as well as its literary complexity and sophistication.

Jeff Nigro is an art historian, lecturer, and educator. Jeff has had a professional relationship with the Art Institute of Chicago for twenty-five years, first as a staff lecturer and then as Director of Adult Programs in the Department of Museum Education.

$25 for CLL members
$40 for guest registrants

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A Loving Elegy for Mary Oliver

   Tuesdays, May 21–June 4
   1:15–2:30 p.m.
   Led by Susan Quaintance
   Register online here

When the CLL offered a class on the poetry of Mary Oliver in the autumn of 2015, the room was full of members and friends who shared a deep appreciation for her body of work. When the poet died in January, one participant of that class said, “I just always thought there’d be another book.” These three sessions will celebrate three themes central in Oliver’s canon: attention, mortality, and devotion.

Susan Quaintance holds an M.A. in theology from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. She taught high school theology and English for more than twenty years and has facilitated many adult days of recollection and retreats.

$25 for CLL members
$40 for guest registrants

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Painting in India: From Caves to Contemporary

   Thursdays, May 30–June 20
   3:00–4:30 p.m.
   Led by Betty Seid
   Register online here

This series of lectures will be a visually vibrant, historical overview of sacred and secular paining in India. We’ll begin with wall paining–from caves to palaces; next, the diverse ways the great epics have been depicted for centuries; then, album painting for royal patrons; and finally, the global impact of modern and contemporary works.

Betty Seid is an independent curator, writer, and lecturer living in Chicago and Santa Monica. From 1995 to 2005, she was Research Associate and Exhibition Coordinator for South Asian Art in the Department of Asian Art of the Art Institute of Chicago. During her ten-year tenure, she curated and oversaw the installation of several important South Asian exhibitions. Her exhibition (and catalog) New Narratives: Contemporary Art from India was the first to show twenty-first century Indian art in the United States.

$40 for CLL members
$55 for guest registrants

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Lunch and Learn: A Room with a View

  Wednesday, June 12
   11:00 a.m.–1:45 p.m.
   Led by Jeff Nigro and John Nygro
   Register online here

A young woman discovers true love and self-awareness amid the cultural splendors of Florence and the charm of rural England in this lavish Merchant-Ivory film adaptation of the 1908 novel by E. M. Forster.

Jeff Nigro is an art historian, lecturer, and educator. Jeff has had a professional relationship with the Art Institute of Chicago for twenty-five years, first as a staff lecturer and then as Director of Adult Programs in the Department of Museum Education.

John Nygro is a lecturer, musician, and actor with a career spanning more than thirty years. As a lecturer, he has spoken on a number of subjects from classical theater and opera to medieval and Renaissance music to film and television.

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For more information about the Center for Life and Learning, contact Susan Quaintance (312.981.3386), Director of the Center for Life and Learning.