Featured Course

Reflecting Venice: Meaning in Place

Considering the Most Serene Republic of Venice, a conversation with instructors Jil Evans and Charles Taliaferro

VeniceIf any city in the world is defined by its geographical surroundings, one could easily argue that the northern Italian city of Venice is, and that geography is water: a lagoon (the Venetian), two rivers (the Po and the Piave), and a sea (the Mediterranean). 

Known alternatively as the Bride of the Sea, the Queen of the Adriatic, and the Floating City, the culture of Venice is like no other and Reflecting Venice: Meaning in Place (March 25) looks at the city’s significant impact on the world, both artistically and philosophically.

Led by artist and writer Jil Evans and philosopher Charles Taliaferro, the immersion will highlight the ideas that shaped Venetian culture and helped to make it a center of East-West trade, and the art and artists who launched a new direction in painting throughout Europe. 

Evans explains: “Titian, Tintoretto, and Tiepolo, the quintessential Venetian painters who have inspired so many artists to this day” have wrought dazzling, innovative work to represent their vision of their city through “exuberant gesture, and their use of reflections,” as might be anticipated in a city famous for flowing, liquid streets. As well, they developed “the lively use of color to create space. Their paintings say ‘Now, now, now—this is the moment to be alive!’”

Taliaferro also can’t avoid water-based terms in his description, characterizing Venice’s strength as buoyancy. “Venice is almost a miracle in the way that it—as a city, community, and tradition—has carried on a balancing act,” he says. From Napoleon’s transgression to the contemporary threats of rising sea levels and high-impact tourism, Venice nonetheless manifests a “resilience against the odds that is awesome, historically.”

What the city is not, Taliaferro stresses, is a shallow theme-park destination. “It is, instead, an ongoing city with a vast and deep history. Venice, as it were, is a teacher we can learn from,” whether you have visited the city many times or considered it from a distance. Learn More...

Course Details

Reflecting Venice: Meaning in Place
Saturday, March 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., $140

Jil Evans is an artist and writer who has exhibited and published her work internationally. Her paintings are held in numerous private and public collections, including those of the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Walker Art Center.

Charles Taliaferro, PhD, is Chair of the Philosophy Department at St. Olaf College. He is the author/editor of more than 20 books and recently coedited The History of Evil in Antiquity (Routledge, 2017), the first of six volumes.


Psych 101: A Performance

Sigmund FreudKick off summer with a psychological splash as LearningLife dives deep into the science of the mind with an educational performance like no other!

The plot: Everyone knows that the future of education is online. Refusing to accept this notion, one professor makes a valiant (and uproarious) effort to stem the rising tide by teaching an entire semester of Psych 101 in just 90 minutes. From Freud, Harlow, and Milgram to Piaget, Jung, and Skinner—from the neural impulse and operant conditioning to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—it’s educational entertainment at its mind-blowing best!

And yes, there will be a test—in fact, two: a midterm and a final exam. But don’t let that stir your unconscious fears. Move away from that computer and come boost your conative function. It’s time for some classical conditioning. (Ding! Ding!)

Recommended text: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Kidding!)

Script and lyrics by Jim Robinson; music by Dennis Curley. Directed by Joshua Will. Cast includes: Michelle Cassioppi, Dennis Curley, Rachael Flanery, Jim Robinson, and Joshua Will.

Course Details

Psych 101: A Performance
Thursday, June 8, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., $55

Michelle Cassioppi is a graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and an alumnus of Dudley Riggs Brave New Workshop. She has performed locally with the History, Jungle, Illusion, and Old Log Theaters. She sings with the Mick Sterling Band.

Dennis Curley, BA, Northwestern University, is co-founder and executive producer of Table Salt Productions. He has composed music for Vampires! Horror!, Love After Hours, and two shows in the Church Basement Ladies franchise.

Rachael Brogan Flanery, MFA, UCLA is an actress, teacher, and writer. A co-founder of Table Salt Productions, she currently teaches in the Minneapolis Public Schools.

Jim Robinson, PhD, University of Southern California, is an alumnus of The Brave New Workshop, the Disney Cruise Line, and a co-founder of Table Salt Productions. He co-wrote Psych 101 based on his 23 years of teaching psychology at St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas. Jim hails from Riverside, California.

Joshua Will is an alumnus of Dudley Riggs' Brave New Workshop, has written two screenplays and more than 20 stage productions, and has an Emmy Award under his belt. He is the Artistic Director of The Recovery Party, a member of The Theater of Public Policy.