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NIU School of Theatre and Dance
MFA/BFA Actor Training


The Northern Illinois University Masters of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts degrees provide individualized, challenging, and disciplined training in performance.

Areas of concentration are acting techniques, voice and speech, movement, text analysis,

period styles, on-camera work, auditioning, and professional development.

The MFA and BFA Acting Programs provide a strong foundation for working in the performing arts industry.

The focus of these programs are to cultivate the student actor’s understanding of themselves and of human behavior to more fully enable them to work authentically and truthfully on stage and screen. To achieve this, the actor develops their dramatic imagination, responsiveness and spontaneity, a sense of conversational reality, and a capacity for a full emotional life that can be expressed with meaning and clarity.

The programs consist of a progression of coursework and exercises based on the actor training methods of Sanford Meisner and Konstantin Stanislavski, reexamined through an anti-racist lens, and influenced by the latest research in neurobiology, somatic therapies, and how people learn.


The Movement pedagogies include the physical training of Loyd Williamson, Nutritious Movement, the teachings of Michael Chekhov, Laban Efforts, Alexander Technique, Yoga, Period Style work, and complementary mind/body techniques. The Voice and Speech training is based in Fitzmaurice Voicework with excursions into the pedagogies of Kristin Linklater, Patsy Rodenberg, Paul Meier, and the Knight / Thompson Speechwork. 


We as a faculty are committed to the work of anti-racism to create an equitable, inclusive, and diverse academic community. Thus, we seek to highlight BIPoC playwrights, plays, and guest artists in our production season and in our classrooms. We engage culturally competent perspectives in our curriculum and identity-conscious practices in our casting. 


Our vision of the art of acting is predicated on the concept that we are here to develop and nurture each actor’s artistic sensibilities in a collaborative training environment. As a School, we adhere to the highest standards of artistic integrity and rigor. Thus, we seek to develop the skills that go beyond application purely in the rehearsal room — communication, collaboration, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, social responsibility, and creativity.

NIU School of Theatre and Dance
Performance Area Faculty
Alexander Gelman, SDC
Head of MFA Acting Program
Stanton Davis
Voice and Speech Specialist
Kay Martinovich, SDC
Head of BFA Acting Program
Director and Producer, BFA/MFA Showcase
Emily Vitrano
Acting and Movement Specialist
Bethany Mangum-Oles
Voice and Acting Specialist
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