The Stevens Building at Northern Illinois University, home to the School of Theatre and Dance and the Department of Anthropology have raised the curtain for Monday’s start of the fall semester after an extensive renovation project.

The $23.7 million state funded project has increased the size of the building by 55% to 106,000 square feet.

New features include:

  • A 200-seat state-of-the-art black box theater venue for teaching and performances, providing the most-real world experience for what students will encounter in professional settings after graduation
  • A vastly expanded scene shop with direct access so that sets can be built, painted and transported in totality in and out of theater spaces
  • A 330-seat lecture hall which can easily be configured into as many as three smaller lecture spaces.
  • Improved classroom and laboratory spaces for anthropology.
  • Expansion of the theater and dance movement lab into a more functional two-story space.
  • Five dedicated classrooms equipped with “smart” technology.
  • Dramatically improved accessibility, including a new elevator.


Acting President Lisa Freeman said the completion of the project is another way that NIU is showing its commitment to students and the community.  “These renovations to the Stevens Building afford our faculty the ability to teach our students in theater, dance and anthropology in a world-class facility.  We welcome our community to visit our campus and attend performances where they will enjoy the work of our very talented students.”

Kendall Thu, Chair of the Department of Anthropology said his students are excited about the opportunities the new facility can provide.  “We are thrilled to return to state-of-the-art facilities which will allow us to continue our tradition of being student-centered with an emphasis on engaged learning. The labs and classrooms optimize interactions between students and faculty while building a sense of community. This new facility is a fitting tribute to current and retired faculty who have been trailblazers in their research and distinguished teachers in the classroom.”

For Alex Gelman, Director of the School of Theatre and Dance the return to the Stevens means the improvisation for his students of the last few years can be focused into the classroom and stage.  “We are certainly excited to be teaching and studying in these new and vastly improved spaces.  The facility we have now provides us the opportunity to better prepare actors for the work that lies ahead after they graduate and move into their professional careers.”

Classes begin in the Stevens Building on Monday, August 25.  The first School of Theatre and Dance performance is October 3 when “The Flick” a play by Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker opens the new black box theater.

For a complete schedule of upcoming theater and dance performances visit  For more information on the Department of Anthropology visit