The 2022 Illinois Shakespeare Festival



By Adrian Naves




The Ewing Theatre from the outside


When the weather blesses Chicago with a gorgeous summer weekend, what better way to take advantage of such lovely weather than with an outdoor play under the stars. Thanks to Philip Vidal’s article “About the Town in July” it discusses about The 2022 Illinois Shakespeare Festival, which kicked off on July 1st and goes on until August 6th, playing at The Ewing Theatre which is located at the corner of Emerson St. and Towanda Ave. 48 Sunset Rd, Bloomington. King Lear (Playing July 9-August 4) is the performance I chose to attend; the other performance is Much Ado About Nothing (Playing July 2-August 5). A pleasant evening outdoors with a live show to compliment the night would be unwise to pass up such an event!


The Cultural Center Entrance


The Jacob Fountain


Upon arriving to the Ewing Cultural Center, it was quite a marvel to behold, quickly drumming up excitement with the surrounding Victorian-like venue adding to the spectacle of the kind of performance it’s shaping up to be.


Archway area side-by-side view


Showing up early to the show is highly recommended, in order to really soak up the surrounding scenery. If you didn’t purchase tickets online at, you can also purchase tickets at the venue, and for any of their upcoming shows with their corresponding dates. Early birds can also enjoy some food and snacks at the concession stand. Walk around and take plenty of pictures of the Ewing Cultural Center manor…you won’t regret it.


Concession store near the box office


Behind the Cultural Center


The show that I had the pleasure to observe was Shakespeare’s King Lear. King Lear is a tale of family drama, political scheming, and exploitation. King Lear in his old age begins to lose his power, influence, and sanity – his pride and ego take center stage of what should matter most, love and trustworthiness.


Poster of King Lear characters and synopsis


Ewing Theatre Stage


The cast of King Lear gave an exhilarating and captivating performance, no vast amount of praise for the cast is considered too much. The lead of King Lear, Henson Keys, gave a remarkable performance that underlines a king being succumbed by betrayal and a conspiratorial plot to dethrone him, which requests the audience to become empathetic towards the character.

The other outstanding performance was Rafael Untalan, who plays Gloucester the nobleman who is loyal to Lear, who seizes your attention as soon as he comes onto the stage. The rest of the cast was also incredible, their performances goes without saying how mesmerizing each actor was and how they captured the spirit of each character they portrayed. The production of the set was another engaging and sometimes under looked aspect of the play, setting the tone and atmosphere just right to what each scene required.


Cast of King Lear taking a bow


Truly a remarkable evening for performing arts, couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night, even if I were to shout it onto the heavens. The surrounding venue enhances the show, making it a necessity to go and see a show before the festival ends.  It was quite an invigorating show I won’t soon forget. Enjoy the show before summer’s end.

For more information on the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, please visit