Entertainers and performers have delighted and puzzled audiences throughout history. We may admire, envy, or even disapprove of their lives, but still remain fascinated by their achievements. From musicians and actors to circus players, the public’s curiosity and affection are excited and often inspired by these amazing talents. Focusing on five such people, we will examine the lives and works of the following (in order of their careers): P. T. Barnum, Dorothy Dandridge, Julie Andrews, Yo Yo Ma, and Ben Folds. The class will discuss Barnum’s autobiography The Life of Barnum, Written by Himself; Andrews’ Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years; and Folds’ A Dream about Lightning Bugs: A Life of Music and Cheap Lessons. For the other two artists, we will discuss films: Introducing Dorothy Dandridge or Dorothy Dandridge Documentary; and The Music of Strangers: Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble (all available on Youtube). Will will discuss Barnum and his book in the first session.

Note: For further optional reading, Wendy recommends Donald Bogle’s Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography and Yo Yo Ma: A Biography by Jim Whiting. If you are unable to obtain any of the suggested books or films, please join us anyway! No class 7/5.