Wednesday Lectures Recent & Upcoming (In Order Early-to-Late)

Gentrain Lectures are held (normally on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday each month) in LF 103 (see MPC Campus Map in left menu) from 1:30 to 2:30 pm, on dates when the MPC campus is open. Visitors are welcome; no charge or registration is required. A $3.00 parking permit is again required for non-society members. Parking permit machines (quarters only) are in each parking lot.

Some Lectures are recorded as on-line virtual lectures. If video recordings are made, and as soon as they are available, links to them will appear on these pages.

View Past Lectures in: 

Wednesday May 3, 2023 - 1:30 pm - A Piece of Literary History Heads Back to Sea

The Western Flyer earned fame as the fishing vessel chartered by John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts in 1940 for a six-week expedition to collect sea life in the Gulf of California. Their journey led to the book Sea of Cortez by the pair in 1941 and The Log from the Sea of Cortez by Steinbeck in 1951. Western Flyer Foundation Executive Director Sherry Flumerfelt oversees the boat's new life as a scientific research vessel and educational classroom. She'll share the story of the boat's restoration and plans for the future. 

In 1940, John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts chartered the fishing vessel Western Flyer for a six-week exploration of Mexico's Gulf of California, resulting in the publications Sea of Cortez (1941) and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951). The boat returned to fishing for decades, changed names and owners, disappeared, sank, and was in disrepair when marine geologist John Gregg purchased it in 2015. Inspired by a vision to restore the iconic boat and bring it back into service for research and education, he launched the Western Flyer Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission "to stir curiosity by connecting art and science in the spirit of John Steinbeck, Ed Ricketts, and their journey on the Western Flyer." The vessel has been almost completely renovated and is scheduled to return to Monterey Bay this summer, when it will embark on the next phase of its journey, taking students and researchers out on the water to learn, observe, and create. 

Sherry Flumerfelt, the Executive Director of the Western Flyer Foundation, will talk about the history of the Western Flyer, its incredible restoration, and the organization's programs aimed at inspiring the next generation of marine scientists, writers, and artists. She has worked with ocean nonprofits since 1999, focusing on a range of issues including sustainable seafood, marine tourism, marine-protected areas, sustainable financing for conservation, and ocean awareness.  

Wednesday May 3, 2023

Wednesday May 17, 2023 -1:30 pm - W.R. Holman's Life in Pacific Grove

We’ve all passed by the Holman's building at 542 Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove, but do you know about the man who started the business? Enjoy a lecture by W.R. Holman's great-granddaughter-in-law, Heather Lazare, who spent the pandemic culling through boxes of Holman ephemera, historic photos, news clippings, and family letters. Based on Holman’s newly republished memoir, My Life in Pacific Grove, Lazare's lecture (with a Power Point presentation of photos), will expand your understanding of Pacific Grove in the early 1900s, explain why we have a W.R. Holman Memorial Highway, reveal Holman's first-hand account of the burning of the Chinese fishing village in 1906, share personal letters from John Steinbeck to Mrs. Holman, and much more.

Heather Lazare is an independent editorial and publishing consultant who specializes in editing adult fiction. She worked at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and both Random House and Simon & Schuster before starting her own business in 2013. She is the director and founder of the Northern California Writers’ Retreat, a yearly fiction retreat in Carmel Valley. 

Wednesday May 17, 2023

Wednesday June 7, 2023 - 1:30 pm - The Tudor Dynasty: Magnificence and Power in Renaissance England

No English dynasty has captured the modern imagination quite so much as the Tudors. The family gained royal power in 1485 when a somewhat obscure Welshman named Henry Tudor, (later known as Henry VII), defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth.  The Tudors remained in power through the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I (Bloody Mary), until Elizabeth I died childless in 1603. Their reigns coincided with one of the most world-altering times in European history.

This lecture, in addition to considering the Tudor monarchs and the challenges they faced, will also touch on the flourishing of the arts during the English Renaissance. It will include examples from The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England a major exhibit scheduled to open at the Legion of Honor on June 24.

Nancy Johnson formerly taught Short Courses for the Gentrain Program and led domestic and international travel-study tours for MPC. Her main interests are Tudor and Victorian England.

Wednesday June 7, 2023

Wednesday June 21, 2023 - 1:30 pm - The House of Special Purpose

MCTA and Howard Burnham present the  tragic story of the end of  the Romanov dynasty. In  1960 Oxford, the hieromonk Father Nicholas (portrayed by Howard Burnham), the former Sydney Gibbes, English tutor to the Tsar’s children), offers a trisagion to the memory of Nicholas  II and recalls the life of the unfortunate "Little Father  of all the Russias."

Part love story, part historical epic, part tragedy, The House of Special Purpose illuminates an empire at the end of its reign. Eighty-year-old Georgy Jachmenev is haunted by his past - a past of death, suffering, and scandal that will stay with him until the end of his days.

Howard Burnham was born and raised in England, though he claims American blood from his paternal grandfather, a much-traveled Californian mining engineer. Howard took honors in Modern History at University College in the University of Durham and in 1972 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London. He settled in the States in 1998; and worked many years for the National Park Service depicting redcoat generals who came to grief in the Revolutionary War. For the past decade he has worked regularly with PacRep. For Monterey County Theatre Alliance he has Zoom performed 60+ of his 100+ characterizations.

Wednesday June 21, 2023

Wednesday July 5, 2023 -1:30 pm - The Murder of Rasputin, A Staged Reading by Carol Marquart

This is a story of the murder of Grigori Efimevich Rasputin on December 17, 1916.  A simple Siberian peasant, Rasputin was many things to many people.  To his daughter, Maria, he was a holy but imperfect man.  To his assassin Prince Felix Yusupov, he was an imposter and the Antichrist who crawled out of the dark ages.  To The Tsarina Alexandra, he was Father Grigory, her savior and an envoy from God.  What was the source of Rasputin’s power, and why did his gruesome murder mark the beginning of the end of Tsarist Russia?  This staged reading is not only about a murder but about the end of an empire!                          
Carol Marquart, playwright, is fascinated with the lives of famous people and revolutionary thinkers.  Using local actors, she has written and presented her staged readings all over the Monterey Peninsula. Her character studies include Diana, Princess of Wales, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Mark Twain,  The Duchess of Windsor, William Randolph Hearst, J. Paul Getty, Bette Davis, Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper, Mabel Dodge Luhan and Rasputin!

Wednesday July 5, 2023