Guest Artist Henry Woronicz Joins IU Theatre for Shakespeare’s King Lear

February 14, 2014

King Lear, by William Shakespeare.

February 28, March 1, 4-7, at 7:30 p.m. March 8 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

 The Ruth N. Halls Theatre, Lee Norvelle Center for the Performing Arts,
275 N. Jordan Ave. Bloomington, IN 47405

General Admission $25, Seniors $20, Students $15

Special Guest Artist Henry Woronicz joins IU Theatre to play the title role in King Lear, opening February 28th. Woronicz is an acclaimed actor, director and producer whose work has been seen on Broadway, in regional theatres and in film and television. The production will be directed by Associate Professor Fontaine Syer.

Considered by many to be the greatest play in Shakespeare’s cannon, King Lear is the story of a retiring monarch who is brought to ruin by betrayal when he divides his kingdom amongst his children.

Woronicz and Syer have collaborated on several productions in the past—most recently at Indiana Repertory Theatre this past fall, where Syer director Woronicz in An Illiad.  In a statement for IU’s Theatre Circle Insights Syer writes:

[Henry’s] history and his accomplishments in Shakespeare span over 30 years. He’s played everything from Benvolio (Romeo’s pal in R&J ) to Prospero. He is a remarkable artist, and this production would not be happening without his commitment and participation.

Syer, who joined the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance in 2005, will be retiring at the end of the semester, making King Lear her final directing project as an IU faculty member. She has helmed nine IU Theatre shows, including She Stoops to Conquer, The Crucible,  Measure for Measure,  An Ideal Husband,  As You Like It,  Rabbit Hole, Lysistrata, and Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea.  She states, regarding her vision for King Lear:

Our starting point for this production was a line from the play: “Nothing will come of nothing.”  The idea of nothing, no thing, is referenced in several places in Lear , and we have all interpreted that statement in different but complementary ways. None of the people in the play wind up with what they want. Most lose everything. Yet this nothing is our collective and individual destiny.

King Lear is a rare Shakespearean tragedy, in that it has a double plot: Lear’s exile, madness and betrayal form one through line of the story, while Gloucester and the struggle between his two sons, Edgar and Edmund, make up the other. Throughout the play, deeply human and intimate moments are revealed along with the shifting destiny of an entire kingdom.

Says Woronicz,  “Shakespeare . . . loved the juxtaposition of the personal with the political, how one influenced the other. In general, you know, through the lives of kings, he liked to explore the way people put their pants on every morning, which is kind of the same. Which is kind of fun, which is really kind of fun.”

Joining Henry Woronicz in the cast of King Lear are third-year MFA actor Evelyn Gaynor (Goneril), third-year MFA actor Adam St. John (Edgar), senior Nicole Bruce (Regan), junior David Gordon-Johnson (Albany), third-year Ph.D. student Eric “C” Heaps (Gloucester),  senior Drew Jenkins (Oswald), third-year MFA actor Aaron Kirkpatrick (Kent), second-year MFA actor Mara Lefler (Fool), senior Sasha Belle Neufeld (Cordelia), senior Grant Niezgodski (Edmund), second-year MFA actor Austin Wilson (Cornwall), freshman Connor Blakenship (Ensemble), junior Cathleen Brumback (Ensemble), sophomore Kaleb Rich-Harris (Ensemble), sophomore Emma Weslund (Ensemble) and junior Xiaoran Lucia Zhu (Ensemble).

Director Fontaine Syer’s creative team includes IU associate professor of sound design Andrew Hopson, third-year MFA lighting designer Lee Burckes, second-year MFA scenic designer Chris Rhoton, and third-year MFA costume designer Julia Whalen.

Tickets are available in person at the IU Auditorium Box Office (M-F, 10 am-5 pm), online at, or at the door at the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center on the corner of 7th and Jordan beginning one hour before any performance. For more details, including a transcript of the full interview with Henry Woronicz or information about designers or design concepts, contact Amy Osajima at


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