August 28, 2020 at 9:15am
Dane Lisser

Millikin's brand new facility opens its doors

For months the Millikin University campus community has been witnessing a change in scenery with the construction of the new Center for Theatre & Dance, all starting with a groundbreaking back in May 2018.

This August, the change is complete. Millikin's newest facility has opened its doors to students, faculty and staff, and for the College of Fine Arts and the School of Theatre & Dance, this change has been a long time coming.

Millikin Center for Theatre & Dance

Located at the former site of the Richards Treat University Center, the $29 million building features a 260-seat flexible theatre, including an orchestra pit, balcony and tech gallery with a tension wire grid.

The new building also features lighting and sound labs, a costume studio, a costume classroom, collaboration spaces, acting studios, design classrooms, practice rooms, modern theatre equipment and offices and support facilities for current staff, with room for growth. The innovative facility houses all areas of study within the nationally recognized School of Theatre & Dance.

Theatre news website caught up with Mary Black, director of the School of Theatre & Dance, to get an all-access look at the new building and to find out what makes Millikin's program stand out.

Millikin Center for Theatre & Dance

"Millikin's School of Theatre & Dance offers rigorous conservatory-style training within a small-school, liberal arts environment. We value small class sizes and close faculty interactions, but also offer a wide variety of opportunities to work on plays, musicals, dance, opera, devised theatre and theatre for young audiences," Black said. "We also offer a variety of unique programs, including a completely student-run production company, a semester abroad in London, our New Musicals Workshop program and the Shakespeare Corrected program."

Millikin's Center for Theatre & Dance is a centralized location for creativity to be cultivated, fostered and displayed, and provides a new venue for Millikin performing arts to delight, inform and inspire audiences. Black says students will be able to "learn performance, directing, design, production and management in all new spaces equipped with the latest technology."

"It features new studios and labs for design and production, including new costume, wigs, dye, and crafts spaces, new CADD and design studios, and a new lighting and sound lab with multiple different consoles," she adds.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has altered some things at Millikin University for the academic year, specifically with how courses will be conducted. Millikin is offering in-person, hybrid and remote learning options. Additionally, the audition process for the School of Theatre & Dance is going to look a little different this year.

Millikin Center for Theatre & Dance

"The first step is always to apply to Millikin, which can be done at or through the Common App. Once a student is accepted to the university, performance students are given a code that will allow them to submit their video audition through Get Acceptd," Black said.

In terms of preparation for auditions, Black encourages any prospective student to carefully read the instructions provided by every school for which they are auditioning or interviewing. Some schools, Millikin included, make recommendations on their websites, including composers or playwrights not to use.

Millikin Center for Theatre & Dance

"These recommendations are made for a reason, and I would encourage students to follow them," she noted. "I would also encourage auditioning students to find ways to bring themselves to the work. We want to see you as the character, not an imitation of the performer who originated the role on Broadway. Don't ever be afraid to be uniquely you."

Even with the pandemic, Black says Millikin University is still finding ways to create. "Our main stage season is still taking place, and features a combination of outdoor, video-conferenced and recorded performances that bring new and exciting opportunities to performers, directors, designers and producers alike," she said.

Millikin Center for Theatre & Dance

Black noted, "Millikin provides a beautiful campus, an inclusive environment and a variety of ways for students to get involved. From opportunities to participate in choirs, cabarets and student films, to political and social justice groups, to Greek life, there is something here for everyone."