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Fall 2022

The Imaginary Kings: Claudius, Lear, and Prospero

Course description: These plays, Hamlet, King Lear, and The Tempest, finish the year with a punch! So much ink has been spilled on them that one may wonder what is left to be talked about. Everyone is an expert on them. Here we are, however, once again but with a twist. These plays feature three kings of Shakespeare’s imagination who decide to go against divine order: Lear wants to retire from his kingly responsibilities (who can blame him), Prospero wants to pursue knowledge at the expense of his kingdom, and Claudius wants the kingdom of Denmark all for himself at the expense of his brother and family. In this course, we will bring home questions on the ramification of human intention and action: What happens when free will i.e., the desire to live the life as we see fit, comes against divine order, if we believe that there is one? Have we experienced moments in our lives when our decisions have been seen as selfish or destructive to others? What are the consequences of our actions? Do we think about them before we act? Is choosing to retire, to pursue knowledge or power of all sorts such a bad thing? How are the decisions of characters – even those that may play a smaller role – affecting others in the story, and affecting us as readers?

In addition, for those who took the history plays cycle last year, this course will be an opportunity to look at instances in which kingship appears outside of the actual historical sequence studied. It will be an opportunity to compare and contrast the kings of history and the kings of the imaginary – or is that line of distinction difficult to draw?

Mondays: September 12th, 19th, 26th
October 3rd,10th, 17th, 24th, 31st
November 7th,14th, 28th
December 5th 

5-6:30 pm
Location: Online/Zoom


Workshop Hamlet & King Lear, October 24th with Hilary Dennis

Hilary Dennis is an actor, producer, and Shakespearean based in Northampton, MA and New York City. She is co-founder of Richmond-based theatre company Elsewhere Shakespeare. Hilary graduated from the Tom Todoroff Studio Conservatory (NYC) and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies and Spanish at NYU. She worked for some time as an organic farmer before choosing to pursue her passion for the stage.


Advance registration is required for all events and classes. Please use the form below to register. You will receive the Zoom link via email.

One registration admits you to all seminars. If you wish to select individual classes to attend, please let Marie know by replying to your registration confirmation.

Your donations are also welcome!

Register for fall seminars and workshop!

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