Drama director leaves SHS to return home

After eight years, Joe King, former SHS drama director, is leaving. King is returning to the high school in Indianapolis where he had taught prior to coming to Shorewood

“The school in Indianapolis where I taught for 15 years previously had their theater director position open up,” King said. “My phone started blowing up when that job came open, and so I decided it was a good time to consider moving back home and being near to friends and family, especially with all of the craziness that’s going on in the world right now. It just felt like it was a good time to be home.”

Tim Kenney, principal, knew that this had been a possibility. King has family in Indianapolis and had worked there for a long time before being recruited to come to Shorewood.

“I know he’s had a desire to definitely move back closer to family,” Kenney said. “The opportunity for him to return to the school where he came from – because he was there for 15 years prior to being recruited to come up here – it was just an opportunity that just seemed like a right move for him at this time.”

For his students though, this departure was less expected. 

“I didn’t see it coming or anything,” said Sofia Hansen Cardona, senior.

Though King is leaving Shorewood to go back to his family and former home, the community here has left a lasting impact on him. 

“I would just want everyone to know that leaving Shorewood is definitely bittersweet,” King said. “Having taught there for eight years in such a great department and with great colleagues and students makes leaving a difficult decision, and I will definitely be back to visit, hopefully to see future shows, because Shorewood is definitely a part of who I am now.”

King arrived at Shorewood to succeed Barbara Gensler, the former director who gave Shorewood Drama it’s reputation of producing quality theater.

“When he came in, he had big shoes to fill and everything, so he really lived up to that expectation and he really brought a lot to the drama department,” Hansen Cardona said. “I personally cannot thank him enough for all the opportunities, from advanced acting opportunities… [to] being in shows. It was a lot of fun.”

Kenney agreed that King came into a drama program at a high level, and continued the success throughout his time with Shorewood Drama. 

“I am extremely grateful for everything that he did for all the students and families, the entire community,” Kenney said. “Drama is such an important part of who we are as an overall school community, and I think he did a fabulous job of coming into a program that was already at a high level and keeping it at a high level and pushing it to new heights.”

He did a fabulous job of coming into a program that was already at a high level and keeping it at a high level and pushing it to new heights.

— Tim Kenney, principal

King’s memories will be filled with the many productions by Shorewood that gave the community accessible experiences of theater, all from their own high school. 

“I would say my favorite memories are some of the awesome stories that we told with the Shorewood actors,” King said. “Directing shows like American Idiot, Spring Awakening, Cabaret, Almost Maine, and just really awesome, powerful stories that it was exciting to share with the kids and with the community.” 

As for the future, the hiring process for the next drama director is underway for a director who will start for the new school year. The job for the position was posted and applicants have applied. 

“Once we get through the graduation ceremony [on August 3] I’ll bring in candidates to interview, and we will hire the next drama director,” said Kenney.

Drama is going to look a bit different this year, as will every aspect of school, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but there are still hopes that it will occur in some form. 

 “Opportunities will exist as we move forward with our planning and figure out what that’s going to look like, but students should be able to come in and do some in person learning and practicing and those types of things,” Kenney said. “I am optimistic that we’ll still be able to do some stuff.”

Shows for the following school year are normally selected during the fourth quarter, something that didn’t happen this previous year due to the school shutdown. Now, the productions for this coming school year are contingent on how school reopens, and will be decided by the new drama director in coalition with others. 

“I’m thinking that it’s definitely going to be much smaller types of productions if we can do it,” Kenney said. “Things are going to have to be done very safely.”

Though King is sad to go, he knows what makes Shorewood Drama standout: the students. 

“I just hope that the theater students at Shorewood understand that they are the ones that make the department great, and so whoever the new director is, to just make sure that you support him or her and just help carry on the legacy and tradition of excellence within the theater department,”  King said. 

I just hope that the theater students at Shorewood understand that they are the ones that make the department great.

— Joe King, former drama director

Hansen Cardona is confident that students will be welcoming. 

“I’m excited and eager to learn who our new director will be, and I’m sure that the drama department will be open and welcoming to the new director, whoever it is,” Hansen Cardona said. “They have big shoes to fill.”