LISSER HALL S 21st-Century Encore
By Sarah J. Stevenson, MFA ,04
T TAKES THE EFFORTS OF AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY
formances of Marian Van Tuyl to the modernist music of John Cage, Lisser’s venerable stage has hosted more than a century’s worth of artistic innovators. “It’s in the bones here,” says Ann Murphy, head of the Dance Program and part of the planning team for the renovation, which was completed in September 2018. The new 21st-century Lisser promises to reinvigorate the groundbreaking role of the arts at Mills, preserving the building’s history while also giving it some long-overdue upgrades. Everyone involved in the project hails the interdisciplinary and collaborative potential of the renovation, which includes a modernized auditorium, state-of-the-art technological innovations, a more spacious lobby area, and a brand-new outdoor terrace overlooking Leona Creek. The “Mills triangle” at the center of campus, formed by Lisser, F.W. Olin Library, and Rothwell Center, will once again be a vibrant, active nexus for students and visitors alike. In just the last few months, there’s already been an infusion of new energy and a sense of excitement. Like any major production, though, the final show is just the part the audience sees; much of the hard work happens backstage, and that was true of this project as well.
Behind the Scenes The story of Lisser Hall dates back to the turn of the 20th century, when the first incarnation of the building was named in honor of Louis Lisser, first head of the Music Department. Over the decades, the bustling and versatile space was used for music, dance, and theater performances, as well as receptions, meetings, and commencements. When automobiles became widespread in California, the front of the
to revitalize a building,
especially one with such a prominent history as Lisser Hall. From the experimental dance per-
M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY