Maybe you’re one of the lucky people who’ve scored a ticket to Hamilton, or maybe you’re hoping to see the touring production at Madison’s Overture Center next season. Maybe you’ve just heard about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s extraordinary musical and want to learn about its relationship to American theater and American history. For anyone looking to understand this cultural phenomenon, University of Wisconsin–Madison Continuing Studies offers two summer courses that will put you in the thick of the conversation: Hamilton: An Online Experience (June 18-July 22) and Hamilton in Depth: One-Week Intensive (July 23-27).
Hamilton takes a novel approach to the Founding Fathers, putting hip-hop in the mouths of Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. It also casts non-white actors in these roles.
“Hamilton has inspired an intergenerational audience to think differently about how our country came to be, to see the Founding Fathers as flawed and complex individuals, and to see how close it came to not happening at all,” says instructor Sarah Marty. “Exploring this history, and learning about the collaborative nature of what it takes to create a piece of art that resonates with so many people, is a worthy endeavor on all counts.”
Hamilton: An Online Experience explores the show’s challenge to musical theater traditions, along with its revolutionary take on the American Revolution. The online format allows students to dig into audio, video, and written materials at their own pace and to engage in virtual discussions with other learners.
Following the online course, learners can dive deeper with Hamilton in Depth: One-Week Intensive. This face-to-face course features lectures, demonstrations, discussions, and guest speakers. It complements the online course, though the two can be taken separately.
“With Hamilton taking the world by storm—infiltrating high school and college classrooms and touring the country—the courses are a chance to learn what the buzz is all about, to explore the roots for this game-changing show, and to learn about how it has affected the arts industry,” Marty says.
Marty is a University of Wisconsin educator and the producing artistic director of Madison’s Four Seasons Theatre. Her work in music, theater, and arts administration gives her a multidimensional perspective on Hamilton.
“Participants will get the chance to explore design elements like costumes and scenery, to learn about the inspirations and influences on the show, to analyze a song and how it is constructed, and more,” she says.
Continuing Studies offers Hamilton: An Online Experience and Hamilton in Depth with both credit and noncredit options. No experience is necessary for either course.
“In past iterations of these courses, participants have included everyone from lighting design majors and high school drama teachers to theater fans and retired poetry professors,” Marty says. “They provide an opportunity for intergenerational learning as UW–Madison undergraduates and lifelong learners are in the classes together. Participants age 18 to 80 are able to come together through a shared appreciation for the show and bring their unique perspectives to the conversations, online or in person.”
To learn more or to register, see the webpages for Hamilton: An Online Experience and Hamilton in Depth: One-Week Intensive. To register by phone, call 608-262-2451.