A native of southern Ohio, Jay Oney began his theatre career at Wade Hampton High School in Greenville, S.C. as an actor in Don Borders's production of Arsenic and Old Lace.
After earning his bachelor's degree from Furman University in 1978 and his master of arts in theatre history from Penn State in 1980, Oney spent a year as an acting intern at the Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk, Va. He returned to Norfolk the following season as a staff carpenter and was later cast in his first Actors Equity union role in A Christmas Carol.
Over the years, Oney has acted in St Augustine, Fla., Farmington, Pa., Williamsburg, Va., Milwaukee, Louisville, Ky., and Holland, Mich.
In New York, Oney took classes from William Hickey. He appeared as an extra in One Life to Live,
and had a role in The Doctor in Spite of Himself
at the New York Renaissance Festival. He also performed in a children's theatre touring production of The Miser
for Lincoln Center. He returned to graduate school at Ohio State and received his doctorate in 1996. His dissertation is titled, "Women Playwrights During the Struggle for Control of the London Theatre, 1695-1710."
Before completing his doctorate, Oney and his wife, Carol, spent a year teaching English as a second language in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. A full-time member of the Furman theatre arts faculty since 1996, Oney has taught Introduction to Theatre, Ideas in the Arts, Acting I, Acting II, Directing, Theatre History I & II, Readings in Dramatic Literature, and Senior Synthesis. He directs at least one production each year and acted in The Imaginary Invalid, Fortinbras, Harvey, An Evening with Ives, and The Tempest.
At Furman, theatre arts is a generalist major where undergraduates learn as much as they can about as many areas of working in the theatre as possible. We believe that actors will be better actors if they have knowledge of costume and stage craft, theatre history, dramatic literature, directing and design. We believe that theatre technicians will be better at their work if they have acted and directed. Because we believe backstage work is as crucial as onstage work, the theatre arts faculty also casts our crew positions at the same time as we choose actors for our main stage productions. We encourage our majors to pursue internships and summer theatre work. As our students become juniors and seniors, we urge them to specialize in one or more areas that interest them. Students direct their own 10-minute play festival, do independent research, engage in advanced acting projects, and design costumes, sets, sound or lights for our main stage productions. At Furman, we believe in developing well-rounded theatre artists, who are ready to pursue graduate studies or careers in the theatre and entertainment industry.