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Shakespeare & Company

In Memoriam: Dennis Krausnick, Educator

Shakespeare & Company logoWith the news that Shakespeare & Company's Founder and Director of Training Dennis Krausnick had died, the theater company is planning a public memorial service for June 24, 2019, at 1 p.m. on its campus in Lenox, Massachusetts. The company will dedicate its 2019 Season to his legacy.

"We're going to miss Dennis deeply here at Shakespeare & Company," Artistic Director Allyn Burrows said in a press release. "He was an extraordinary teacher, writer, actor, and friend. The enduring legacy that he leaves is that he was an inspiration to us all and to those he met teaching around the world. His enormous generosity of spirit was matched only by his brilliant wit, and we'll honor him by staying doggedly curious about language and its effect on humankind."

Krausnick passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by loved ones November 27 after a long battle with cancer. He was a founding member and the director of actor training at Shakespeare & Company in 1978. He is survived by his wife, Tina Packer, Shakespeare & Company's founding artistic director, and by his stepson Martin Jason Asprey, a company member. He leaves many loving friends, artistic collaborators, students, and fellow Shakespeare & Company supporters.

"The outpouring of love and support for Dennis has been overwhelming and exceedingly gratifying, and very moving," Packer said in the press release. "Messages have come from all over the world: India, Australia, England, and everywhere in Canada and the United States. He traveled so much, and so many people from all over the world came to the Lenox campus: Dennis taught them all. Passing on knowledge was his passion, and he loved the interaction of asking questions, putting the voice in the body, and speaking out. Long may his inspiration continue."

When he was 19, Krausnick entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1973. He received his B.A. in philosophy and letters from St. Louis University, and his M.A. in French from McGill University, Montreal. During his time with the Jesuits he met Kevin G. Coleman, who later became Shakespeare & Company's Education Director. Their friendship and artistic collaboration lasted over 50 years. In 1976 Krausnick was awarded an M.F.A. in acting from New York University. There he met Packer, who had been brought in to direct all the plays in Shakespeare's War of the Roses sequence, in which Krausnick played multiple roles. He helped found Shakespeare & Company with Packer and Kristin Linklater and became a Designated Linklater Voice Teacher in 1993. After being together for 25 years, Packer and Krausnick married in 1998.

“Much of what Shakespeare & Company strives to be in the world can be traced to Dennis," Coleman said in the release. "The theater artists he inspired and encouraged over the years can hardly be counted. His insight as a writer and director, and his courage as a teacher and performer can hardly be measured. But for me, it was always his friendship.”

In his 25 years of leading Shakespeare & Company's renowned Center for Actor Training, Krausnick mentored and taught more than 5,000 actors and students from around the world. His legacy of innovative actor training methods, quick wit, spirit of generosity, and depth of thought will be carried on through the artists, teachers, and students with whom he collaborated. In the past few months of his life, he passionately worked on establishing the Dennis Krausnick Fellowship Fund to support and increase diversity within the Shakespeare & Company Actor Training Program.

As a master teacher of text, rhetoric, and structure of the verse, Krausnick has provided residencies and workshops for theater companies and university theatre departments across the country. In addition to teaching voice, text, and philosophy of theatre around the world, he also graced Shakespeare & Company stages as an actor. His favorite roles included King Lear, Polonius, Lord Capulet, and Bertrand Russell. Additionally, writing has always been an important part of his life. Over his lifetime he adapted or wrote more than 40 plays, many of which included adaptions of Edith Wharton and Henry James stories. As recently as 2017, Shakespeare & Company staged two of his Edith Wharton adaptations, Roman Fever and The Fullness of Life.

"Dennis was a guiding light for the Company and all he came in contact with," Managing Director Adam Davis said in the release. "His humor, grace, and kindness are an example of what is important in life. Shakespeare & Company will work hard to continue the legacy he left and do it by the example he set."

A writer of poetry since his teenage years, Krausnick recently completed his first book and audio book of poetry titled White Flash, set to be released in early 2019. A late-night reading of some of his poetry to 150 participants in the flagship Month-Long Intensive, summer 2000, was the genesis for the book. Before he passed, Dennis was putting together his second book, Elizabethan World Picture(s), a non-fiction exploration of the physical and psychological perspective of the characters in Shakespeare's plays. It is expected to be completed posthumously and released in 2020.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Dennis Krausnick Fellowship Fund are requested. Donations can be made directly by clicking here or sent to Shakespeare & Company, 70 Kemble Street, Lenox, MA 01240, Attention: Dennis Krausnick Fellowship Fund.
For the full obituary, please visit To share memories, photos and stories, visit the Shakespeare & Company Center for Actor Training Page on Facebook.

December 15, 2018

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