Cool Courses Series: Charley Lang’s Shakespeare Deconstructed: Gender & Power Play
by Malia Gaffney
“Come; fear not you: good counsellors lack no clients: though you change your place, you need not change your trade; I’ll be your tapster still.” – Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
Charley Lang worked as a classically trained actor for 20 years on Broadway, TV, and film. He is currently co-director of the Psychology and Addiction Studies Concentrations in the UGS program at AULA. He is a graduate of the MAP program at AULA and has been a licensed therapist since 1998.
As a postmodern therapist, Lang is interested in how our realities get constructed, and subsequently, how they can be deconstructed and reconstructed. “Bringing this lens to the study of Shakespeare”, he says, “seemed an interesting way into material that oftentimes appears intimidating to students.”
Lang’s course, Shakespeare Deconstructed: Gender & Power Play, explores five of the Bard’s plays over the span of ten weeks: Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, and King Lear. Students read and discuss related scholarly articles, engage text work, deconstruct classic and contemporary filmed versions of the plays, and “students love that guest artists are invited in to collaborate with them on scene study and character development,” Lang says. “All five plays are deconstructed through the lenses of gender and power…both in Elizabethan times and in our turbulent times of today. By the end of the course, students are amazed at their capacity to comprehend Shakespeare…and excited to see more of his plays.”
“I never imagined revisiting my former life as an actor and 30 years later integrating those skills into a university psychology course on Shakespeare. But here we are. It’s been pure joy!”
Feeling excited about Shakespeare? Me too. In fact, I’m inspired. Here’s my attempt to put this profile into sonnet form…
Therapists must learn to deconstruct
Assumptions on reality and life.
And all the students entering the muck
Of suffering and any kind of strife
Might benefit from Shakespeare as a guide.
Who better than the legendary Bard
To lead us through the muddled seas and tides?
And learn of people always on their guard,
Of love and loss and lack of acceptance.
These tales are insights into multitudes,
Like madness, aging, death, and vain repentance;
Perspective comes from acting out their moods.
Or might it be the comedy you seek?
The veil of laughter offers us a peek.
… What’s your inner Bard up to today?