The students and faculty of the Department of Theatre and Drama have been waiting a long time for the opening of the new Theatre/Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. Since the ground breaking ceremony Oct. 16, 1998, department members have been tantalized by the prospect of new classrooms, offices, scene shops, costume shops and most importantly, two beautiful new theaters. They have waited patiently as the chaotic bangs, crashes and pops of construction have interrupted their classes and rehearsals.\nNow all of the waiting has paid off. Even before the official opening, classes, rehearsals and the construction of shows have already begun within this pristine new facility. One director, Associate Professor Bruce Burgun, has the privilege of directing the first production in the new facility: Shakespeare's classic romantic comedy, "Much Ado about Nothing."\n"It is one of Shakespeare's most spectacular celebrations of love, wit, humanity and disguise," Burgun said.\nSince being appointed to IU in 1990 as an associate professor of acting and directing, Burgun has been vigorously involved in Bloomington theatre. Besides directing for the IU main stage, he has also directed and performed for The Bloomington Playwrights Project and The Brown County Playhouse. This summer he directed the Brown County Playhouse production of "One for the Pot," while rehearsing his role as Leo Schneider in their next production, "Chapter Two."\nThis level of dedication to the theatre is what makes Burgun one of the most popular professors in the Department of Theatre and Drama, students said. Junior Nick Cacciola, who plays Claudio in "Much Ado About Nothing," said he was unable to get a spot in Professor Burgun's Shakespearean acting class because of its popularity. But Cacciola did add that the opportunity to work with Burgun on the main stage compensates for not having him in the classroom.\nWhen speaking with the IDS last year about his production of "Translations," Burgun said, "(The biggest reward was) watching the actors grow. Observing them seizing the opportunity granted [to] them. Making the characters, circumstances and relationships real and personal to them.\n"Working to overcome their initial preconceptions to achieve a wonderfully human something that is far beyond their mental abilities to imagine," he said. "That hasn't been easy, but that is why I teach and create theatre at this level."\nIt is for that level of commitment that Professor Burgun was awarded the 2001 Student Choice Award for Outstanding Faculty. \nCacciola said that what makes Burgun such an effective director is that he focuses on all aspects of directing. \n"He keeps changing his insights, giving actors a lot to work with, focusing on the full picture of the stage," Cacciola said.\nTo keep the picture constantly moving on the set of "Much Ado About Nothing," Burgun has come up with a unique setting for the show. \n"One of the main challenges when directing a classical piece is to help the audience recognize themselves in the play and identify with the action," Burgun said. "Consequently, I've attempted to place the context of the play in a more 'recognizable' period."\nGeoff Wilson, one of Burgun's MFA students and an actor in two of his productions, said he feels this will bring the audience closer to the classic play.\n"I think he's created a real world that's sort of whole and unique," Wilson said.\nThis recognizable period is turn of the century America. The show will feature the male heroes returning from the Spanish-American War to celebrate the rousing American victory.\nAdapting the show to this time period while staying faithful to the text has been a joy for Burgun. \n"It is a splendid play, rich in language, with unforgettable characters such as Benedick, Beatrice, and Dogberry -- and is one of Shakespeare's most plot driven plays," Burgun said.\nBut as with many things, Burgun has found that current events have deeply affected his production. \n"Little did I know, when devising this concept last winter, that terror of war, danger lurking in our midst and patriotism at its highest point in my lifetime should break out in our current America," Burgun said. "Consequently, the play and our production have taken on added unforeseen depth, dimension and meaning"
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