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SUNY Theatre mounts King Lear

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NEW PALTZ -- William Shakespeare’s tragedy of immense scope and consuming force, King Lear, is presented by the Department of Theatre Arts at SUNY New Paltz, April 26 – May 6. The production features professional actors in two key roles. George Judy performs the role of the beleaguered King, and Brendan Burke (Shadowland Theatre) plays the Earl of Gloucester, Lear’s ally who gains true insight and wisdom only after he is blinded.

King Lear (George Judy)cradles his daughter Cordelia (Larrissa Goldberg) in "King Lear"
Photo by Amanda Kohn

King Lear incorporates such themes as greed, betrayal, lust for power, and cruelty. The plot tells of an aging and headstrong monarch who decides to divide his kingdom amongst his three daughters. The oldest two daughters fawn insincerely over their father, and get most of his possessions. The youngest daughter, Cordelia, is much less lavish in her displays of affection, and disappoints her father. But events soon lead the old king to find out how each of his daughters really feels about him.

Shakespeare is believed to have authored King Lear around 1605, between Othello and Macbeth, and it is usually ranked with Hamlet as one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies. The characters in King Lear are so intense, their speeches so impassioned, the play is considered a must see.

The SUNY New Paltz production is directed by Frank Trezza, chair of the Department of Theatre Arts. It is augmented by the following special events.

• Following the Friday, April 27 performance, there will be a panel discussion titled “Challenges in Reading and Staging King Lear.” Panelists include Tom Olsen (English), Frank Trezza (Theatre), and George Judy. This is free and open to all.

• Following the Thursday, May 3 performance, there will be a talk-back with the cast and facilitated by the production’s student dramaturg Bradley Diuguid ’07. This is free and open to all.

• School Matinees are scheduled for 10 am on successive Fridays, April 27 and May 4. These performances include a talk-back with the cast following the performance. To book tickets for these performances, call the Department of Theatre Arts 257-3865.

• SUNY New Paltz Alumni Night is Friday, April 27. Tickets include the performance and a private reception with the cast after the performance. SUNY New Paltz Alumni are invited to order tickets through the Alumni Office, or 257-3230.

King Lear is performed April 26, 27, 28, and May 3, 4, 5, at 8 p.m. Matinee performances on April 29 and May 6 begin at 2 p.m. Running time is approximately 150 minutes.

Tickets to King Lear are $16 for adults, $14 for students and seniors. All seats are reserved. They may be purchased online now at under the production link. The box office is staffed beginning April 16. Call (845) 257-3880. McKenna Theatre is wheelchair accessible.

About the Featured Performers

George Judy (King Lear) is a member of Actors Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild. He is known to Hudson Valley audiences for his performance as Robert in the 2006 production of Proof for New Paltz Summer Repertory Theatre. His credits as an actor, writer, director and educator include work with the Royal National Theatre Studio, London, the Asolo Theatre, the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Pennsylvania Centre Stage, and twelve seasons with the Tony award-winning Utah Shakespearean Festival.

As an Associate Artist with the Festival, Judy has performed such favorite roles as Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night, and Polonius in Hamlet. He was for seven years Artistic Director of the Festival new play development series, Plays in Progress, working as producer, director and dramaturg with both young and established playwrights to develop important new works for the American Theatre. Judy’s adaptation of Antigone was published by Pioneer Drama and has been anthologized and performed across the country. He is currently completing a new book, Designing Life: A Practical Approach To Acting and Living as well as an adaptation of The Liar by Carlo Goldoni.

Brendan Burke (Earl of Gloucester) is the Artistic Director of the Shadowland Theatre in Ellenville, New York (Best Theatre- 2006, Times Herald-Record). Most recently, Burke produced and starred in Shadowland's premiere of David Wiltse's The Good German, co-produced by the Playwrights' Theatre of New Jersey. That lauded production has been chosen by the American National Theatre to open Off-Broadway fall of 2007 where Burke will revisit his role. This spring, he appeared in the world premiere of Bob Clyman's comedy, Where the Sun Never Sets, at Playwrights' Theatre. Hudson Valley Magazine named Burke "Best Actor" (2005) in their annual "Best of the Valley" Awards. At Shadowland he has also appeared in All My Sons with Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss, Bluff with John Astin, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Terra Nova, Taking Sides, Twilight of the Golds, and The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (abridged). New York credits include Native American at the Intar Theatre, White Noise, The Rescue of Christ, and The Ithaca String Quartet (all at Turnip Theatre Co.).