America on Stage and Screen: The 1990s
Presented under the auspices of the Robert Fordham Chair in Liberal Arts:
The 1990s saw the end of the Cold War, the launch of the Hubble telescope, the birth of the World Wide Web, the Gulf War, the Presidency of Bill Clinton, the cloning of Dolly, and the Dow hitting 10,000 for the first time. Ruby Ridge, Waco, Oklahoma City, and Columbine High School were sites of domestic terror. Trials of Rodney King and O.J. Simpson held an unsettled nation rapt. The American theatre and cinema offer a useful lens for understanding our country as it approached a new millennium. Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” provided apocalyptic caution for a nation gone astray. “Titanic” offered a history lesson about unanticipated catastrophe. Comic playwright Neil Simon turned serious in “Lost in Yonkers,” and Stephen Spielberg turned even more serious in “Schindler’s List.” “Rent” and “The Lion King” were the hit musicals of the decade, and what they offered was the possibility of triumph over loss. “Thelma and Louise” gave cinematic expression to the aftermath of Anita Hill’s testimony, while “Love! Valour! Compassion!” pictured what it meant to be gay and alive in the time of AIDS. “Toy Story,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Forrest Gump,” displayed storytelling in a digital age of CGI (computer-generated imagery). This course will appraise the state of the United States in the 1990s by looking at the evidence provided by its works for stage and screen. Plentiful video clips will be a significant illustrative part of the lectures.
Larry Eilenberg has had a distinguished theatrical career as artistic director, educational leader, and pioneering dramaturg. Dr. Eilenberg earned his B.A. at Cornell University and his Ph.D. at Yale University. Professor Emeritus of Theatre Arts at San Francisco State University, he also taught at Yale, Cornell, the University of Michigan, and the University of Denver. Artistic Director of the renowned Magic Theatre during the period 1992‐2003, Dr. Eilenberg has served as a commentator for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” as a U.S. theatrical representative to Moscow, and as a popular lecturer on film and on comedy.