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Last modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Theatre/Neal-Marshall building to be dedicated Friday

Actors Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee to present keynote address, acting workshop and lecture

EDITORS: Due to the size of the Halls Theatre and the expected crowd for Friday's dedication, we encourage you to arrive early. Arrangements have been made to accommodate electronic media covering the dedication ceremony and "An Evening with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee." A complete biography for Davis and Dee, information on the facility, and historical background are available at For assistance, call George Vlahakis or Richard Doty in the IU Office of Communications and Marketing at 812-855-3911.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University this Friday (Jan. 18) will formally open the Department of Theatre and Drama Center and the Marcellus Neal and Frances Marshall Black Culture Center. Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, noted authors, actors and activists, will present the keynote address and participate in two other events on Friday.

The dedication ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. in the building's Ruth N. Halls Theatre. Davis and Dee also will conduct a theatre workshop with IU students at 9:30 a.m. at Willkie Auditorium, located in Willkie Quadrangle on South Rose Avenue, and an evening lecture program at 7:30 p.m. at the IU Auditorium. All events are open to the community and free of charge.

Two honorary degrees also will be presented at Friday's dedication ceremony. R. Keith Michael, professor emeritus of theatre and drama, and Herman C. Hudson, Martha C. Kraft professor emeritus of Afro-American studies, will receive honorary doctorates of humane letters.

The $26 million building has been a dream for IU Bloomington for many years. It is a new state-of-the-art home for theater performances, for the education of theater scholars and artists, and for African American cultural and arts centers.

It will provide the Department of Theatre and Drama with innovative and much-needed performance spaces for theatre and dance in a setting commensurate with its talents and its array of offerings. It will also gather under one roof the campus' African American arts organizations, cultural library and student and academic services, providing a collaborative environment that is at the heart of the academic enterprise.

The Department of Theatre and Drama bid goodbye to the University Theatre in November with its final production there, Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, and its T300 Studio Theatre stage soon will darken.

Productions of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman will inaugurate the new Wells-Metz and Halls theatres. The department's performance program will benefit from new theatres that are commensurate with its talents and its array of offerings.

The Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, named for the first male and female African American graduates of IU, likewise will celebrate the building's opening with a series of special events. On Jan. 15, a new exhibit on the history and contributions of African Americans at IU will open.

The Black Student Union and other student organizations will offer a variety of educational and social programs throughout the spring semester.

The new building offers 117,000 square feet of usable space including performance facilities, traditional classrooms, lecture halls, rehearsal studios, costume and scene shops, a library and administrative offices. Its need became evident during the 1990s when the IU programs were in danger of losing their nationally-acclaimed reputations because of their obsolete facilities.

The Department of Theatre and Drama will share the new building with the African American Arts Institute and its performing groups -- the IU Soul Revue, the African American Choral Ensemble and the African American Dance Company. The activities of the former Black Culture Center and the offices of Diversity Education and Community and School Partnerships will be housed there.