2021-2022 Creative Living Season



Creative Living is thrilled to welcome you to the 58th season of inspiring and enlightening speakers.

Programs begin at 10 a.m. in the Woodstock Opera House. Coffee and conversation offered at 9 a.m.

2019-2020 season subscribers: Renew subscriptions by August 14 to retain your series seats.

New subscribers: Series seats will be available for sale beginning August 16.

Single tickets may be available after September 20.

To order series subscriptions:
Call or visit the Woodstock Opera House Box Office 

(815) 338-5300, 121 Van Buren Street, Woodstock
Six-speaker Series: $115 plus a $2 one-time handling charge per order.


Chris Jones
A Cultural Critic in a Pandemic: Struggles & Recovery
October 21, 2021

What existential questions confound a critic when there is nothing to critique? This is the dilemma Chris Jones faced during the pandemic-induced shut down of the arts world. Jones, the long-time chief critic and Sunday culture columnist of the Chicago Tribune, shares his thoughts on our shared experience during the COVID-19 crisis, the urgent need to coax the arts back to life and the challenges facing artists to pivot and reinvent. In short, he’ll present his perspective on the future of culture in Chicagoland—the perfect kick-off to our return to Creative Living in the Woodstock Opera House.

Jacqueline Saper
From Miniskirt to Hijab: A Girl in Revolutionary Iran
November 18, 2021

In her first-hand account of life before and after the 1979 Iranian Revolution that brought the Ayatollahs to power, Saper brings her personal perspective to a historical moment with lasting repercussions. She and her family, members of a thriving Jewish community who suddenly became outsiders, continued to live in the Islamic Republic for eight more years, hiding in the basement as Iraqi bombs fell over the city during the Iran-Iraq war. She shares a story of survival under Islamic law and her eventual escape with her husband and two young children. From Miniskirt to Hijab is the winner of the Chicago Writers Association 2020 Book of the Year Award.

Liesl Olson
Chicago Avant-Garde: Five Women Ahead of Their Time
January 20, 2022

Chicago Avant-Garde, subject of a Newberry Library exhibit (September 10 – December 31, 2021) tells the story of painter Gertrude Abercrombie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, choreographers Katherine Dunham and Ruth Page, and dealer-curator Katharine Kuh in the period between the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Communist scare of the 1950s. Unafraid of subverting convention, the women of Chicago Avant-Garde creatively challenged the limitations placed on them because of their gender. They found freedom in poetry, dance, exhibitions, and visual art. Committed to making and supporting provocative art that would activate social change, they took radical risks. Inspired and challenged by Chicago, they helped transform the city into a hub of avant-garde experimentation.

Stephen Coss
The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics
February 17, 2022

Colonial Boston was a hotbed of social and political ferment, in revolt against the tyrannies of the Crown and Puritan authority, still reeling from the horrors of the Salem witch trials. The smallpox epidemic of 1721, the city’s worst, became the catalyst for change. Stephen Coss brings together an amazing cast of characters—Rev. Cotton Mather and his enslaved African servant, Onesimus; Dr. Zabdiel Boylston; Elisha Cook, Jr; James Franklin and his teenage brother, Benjamin—to tell the story of a year that altered the course of American history, launched American-style journalism, and became a turning point in the eradication of mankind’s deadliest disease. 

Miles Harvey
The King of Confidence
March 17, 2022

James Strang, the most infamous American you've likely never heard of, was a self-proclaimed divine king of earth, heaven, and Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. From this stronghold he controlled a fourth of the state of Michigan, establishing a pirate colony where he practiced plural marriage and perpetrated thefts, corruption, and frauds of all kinds. In presenting this tale of utopian dreamers, frontier schemers, true believers, false prophets and the murder of an American Monarch, author Miles Harvey gets to the root of this American original, setting him in the boisterous pre-Civil War era that allowed con-men like James Strang to thrive.

Zac Bleicher
Edgar Miller and the Glasner Studio: An Armchair Tour
April 21, 2022

Edgar Miller was a largely self-taught artist who defied labels and limits. In the early part of the 20th century he designed four studio complexes in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, transforming old residential spaces into working art colonies. One of these spaces was the lavishly decorated Glasner Studio. Miller marked almost every inch of it with mosaics, woodcarvings paintings, murals and stained glass in Arts & Crafts, Art Deco, Modernism, Medievalism, and Primitivism styles. Zac Bleicher, executive director of the non-profit Edgar Miller Legacy, will introduce the history of the artist and guide us, room by room, in a virtual tour of Miller’s timeless masterwork.

Past Speakers Include
Miguel Cervantes, Robert Rodriguez, Bill Odenkirk, Anna Celenza, Judy Collins, Mary Badham, Rebecca Eaton, Dr. Temple Grandin, Maya Angelou, Billy Collins, Carol Marin, Charlie Trotter, Phil Ponce, John Bredar, Dr. Michael Roizen, Beverly Sills, Martha Stewart, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Rick Kogan, Wally Phillips, Joan Benny, Rick Steves, Studs Terkel, Joseph Epstein, Amy Dickinson, Ann Patchett, Geoffrey Baer, Rick Bayless, John Callaway, Scott Simon, Robert Wittman, Bill Kurtis, Sarah Paretsky, Gene Siskel, Eddie Ross, Leslie Hindman, Jeffrey Lyons, Beekman 1802 - Josh Kilmer-Purcell & Brent Ridge

See brochures from our past 57 seasons