Who Owns a Song? A Theatrical Investigation of Princeton and Slavery

This course will take the form of an interdisciplinary, creative investigation of a rarely discussed chapter of Princeton’s past: the University’s history as it relates to the institution of slavery in America. Composer/lyricist Peter Mills ’95 and director Cara Reichel ’96 (founding members of NYC’s critically-acclaimed Prospect Theater Company) will guide students in a collaboration to create and present original, short music theater pieces based on the research of the Princeton and Slavery Project.

Sample reading list:
Heather S. Nathans, Slavery and Sentiment on the American Stage 1787-1861
Karen Sotiorpoulos, Staging Race
Thomas Laurence Riis, Just Before Jazz
Jon W. Finson, Voices That Are Gone: Themes in 19th Century American Song
Stephen Sondheim, Finishing the Hat
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
See instructor for complete list

Reading/Writing assignments:
Students will engage with primary source materials from the research of the Princeton and Slavery Project as the basis for the original theatrical pieces they create. Secondary reading assignments will concern racial representation, theater, and the craft of musical theater writing. Additional shorter writing exercises to build craft may be assigned. The major writing assignment will be students’ final creative project, a collaborative 10-15 minute original music theater work.

Other Requirements:
United States Travel Required

Prerequisites and Restrictions:
There are no formal prerequisites for the course. However, students would be selected through an application process which would curate a diverse group of students who bring a variety of skills and perspectives to the table: playwrights, composers, lyricists, musicians, singers, actors, designers, dramaturgs. Course participants will be assigned collaborative teams with the necessary skill sets to create a musical theater piece.

Other information:
Course instructors are composer/lyricist Peter Mills ’95 and director / writer Cara Reichel ’96, founding artists from NYC’s critically-acclaimed Prospect Theater Company, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development and production of new musical theater. Together, Mills and Reichel have created a dozen new musical theater works, many inspired by research into historic events, and have premiered their work both Off-Broadway and internationally.




Thursdays, 1:30 - 4:20 pm