Indiana Daily Student

'Sylvia' offers light, comedic fare

To finalize this summer's Brown County Playhouse season, the Summer Stock Theatre of more than half a century has chosen to go out laughing. Using two of its former graduate students, a community actress of much repute and a current IU faculty member, IU and the BCP are looking to end its season with fervor and fun.\nThe show is A.R. Gurney's comedy "Sylvia" and it opens Friday and will play four consecutive weekends -- Fridays through Sundays -- until it closes Oct. 21. One very unique aspect of the show is that current associate professor of theatre and drama Bruce Burgun shall return to the stage as an actor having previously worked exclusively in recent years as a director for both Brown County and the University.\nBurgun will be working with two of his own former master's students -- fellow cast members Rob Johansen and Sarah Turner. Relationships in the cast are of the utmost importance, and for Burgun to work with former students has been a pleasure because he said he respects their work both on and off the stage.\n"Acting on stage with Rob Johansen and Sarah Turner as well as with Diane Kondrat is an absolute joy and a distinct honor," he said. "Not only are they wonderfully acting partners and peers - they are my best friends."\nBurgun said he is enjoying his return to acting. \n"How does it feel to be back on stage? Great, wonderful, exciting, challenging, terrifying and extremely edifying," said Burgun. "To truly be able to teach an art form, you have to practice it to honestly and accurately know what the experience, processes and demands are.\n"You don't have to be great at it, but you do have to know it from the inside out or, as a teacher, you lose touch with the process."\nBurgun, who got his master's degree in acting from Northwestern University, has taught at IU and the Chicago Academy for the Arts. He has also worked as an actor in Chicago at various locales including the Goodman Theatre and Steppenwolf. Although this is a return to the stage, Burgun said he feels his challenges are not going to be so difficult.\n"Everybody keeps asking me how is it different to act rather than direct," Burgun said. "The answer is simple: as an actor I don't have to think! I don't mean that literally, but I do mean I don't concern myself about anything but the moment I am playing. Actors are artists of the moment. And it is extremely liberating and gratifying."\n"Sylvia" is a play for actors. Rather than being plot-driven, it focuses on character, which is evident in the relationships exposed between Greg (Johansen) and his wife (Diane Kondrat), his dog Sylvia (Turner) and the three characters played by Burgun.\nEssentially, the play surrounds Greg's empty life and the fact that he found this stray dog Sylvia who stimulates him in a way that he has not been in quite some time. His wife does not like it, and therein lies the conflict of where his life will take him because of the unconditional love he receives from Sylvia.\nThere are various locations for this piece, so flexibility in the costuming, setting and especially lighting are quite important to the believability of the piece.\nLighting designer Marie Shakespeare, wife of associate professor of theatre and drama Robert Shakespeare, must differentiate between these locales, and still create a suitable environment for the action to take place.\n"Designing the lighting and sound for 'Sylvia' has been a delightful challenge," said Shakespeare. "The lighting and sound also underscore special moments in the production -- moments that transport the audience out of the confines of time and space and into the psyche of the playwright's characters."\nDirector Bill Kincaid from Southern Illinois University, who is no stranger to the Brown County Playhouse, came in to take the reigns over the show. \n"Sylvia" by A.R. Gurney opens Friday and runs at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday at the Brown County Playhouse in Nashville, Ind. Tickets are $12.50 Sunday and $14.50 Friday and Saturday. For children 12 and under it is $6.50 and $7.50, respectively. Tickets are available at the IU Auditorium Box Office 855-1103, the BCP box office 988-2123 and all TicketMaster locations or by phone 333-9955; (317) 743-5151.

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