MAEGAN MCNERNEY AZAR
Maegan McNerney Azar began her theatre career when she was nine years old as an orphan in the musical Annie. Since then, she has participated in community, educational, and professional theatre in states across the country. Currently, she is the assistant professor of acting and directing at Furman.
A Florida native, Azar grew up on Matlacha, a small fishing island on the Southwest gulf coast. After graduating with salutatorian honors from Mariner High School (Fla.), Azar enrolled at East Tennessee State University. A member of the university honors scholar program, Azar played on the university's NCAA Division I volleyball team. Her theatre interests soon became a career goal when she decided to switch majors from biology to theatre in her third term at the university. Studying under Pat Cronin, Azar worked tirelessly to become a well-rounded theatre artist--not just an actor--by studying design, theatre history, and stage management in addition to her primary acting classes. She graduated with a bachelor of science in theatre in 2003 with summa cum laude honors while earning the Bud Frank Award for Excellence and the Outstanding Student in Theatre award.
From Tennessee, she traveled to Alabama where she was heavily recruited for the masters program in acting pedagogy at the University of Alabama. Under the tutelage of Ed Williams, Peder Melhuse, Tiza Garland, and Seth Panitch, this program uniquely melded her passion for acting and her passion for teaching. The Department of Theatre and Dance afforded her the opportunity to emphasize in theatre movement, through which she studied stage combat, period styles, jazz, ballet, mask work, and Laban, while maintaining a full schedule of acting in university productions, teaching a full semester load, and studying musical theatre, voice, and directing. She earned the Marian Gallaway Award for Distinguished Graduate Acting during her second year, and in 2006, she graduated with a master of fine arts in acting pedagogy.
During school, Azar began her career in the professional theatre, gaining experience in summer stock outdoor theatre venues in North Carolina and Ohio. Since graduating, she has worked for SummerTide Theatre, Seaside Repertory Theatre, and the California Theatre Center as both actor and teacher. She maintains allegiance to the Southeastern Theatre Conference, as well as the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies. She has also studied with Hamilton Camp at the Paul Sills' Wisconsin Theatre Game Center and Ballroom Dancing at the Fred Astaire Studios in Santa Clara, Calif. Through professional experience and development, Azar continues her training for a constantly changing theatre world.
In 2006, Azar was appointed as the education director at California Theatre Center. In this position, her mission to instill a life-long appreciation for the arts in our young people took root. Azar not only developed every piece of education material for the center, but she also worked as an actor and director for the company's professional productions. The center's theatre conservatory, internship program, great spring musical, youth professional acting, and outreach programs serve thousands of students in California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada. In 2007, Azar also had the opportunity to design curriculum for second-language English students that was then presented on the first-ever American youth theatre tour to China. Azar's conservatory students have gone on to attend top theatre schools such as University of Southern California, American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and Carnegie Mellon.
Through her courses at Furman, Azar attempts to engage individual growth through theatre as a professional art form. In so doing, she hopes that students will carry their appreciation of theatre beyond the university grounds to a wider world in need of exploring the human spirit.
Pedagogy. The art of teaching. Literally, to lead the child. Education is the foundation of all great states, and those who wish to be educated should have that wish granted. As an educator, my job is of a serious nature. My job is to lead students to become well-rounded human beings that can deftly contribute to their communities. By creating a safe environment to take risks and setting high standards to achieve goals, students can reach beyond their limits to hone talent into skillful expression.
Expectations encourage success. In my classroom, I want to inspire my students' creative energies through questions and not answers. The classroom is a place of challenges, of honesty, and predominantly of process. The process through which students learn is how they later apply their merit, and the classroom is the place to fully invest oneself in the process of learning. But most importantly, I do not expect products in my classroom. The art of learning is a lifetime of discoveries and I encourage students to continue questioning the world in which they live.
A school should be the pillar upon which a community is built. That community must develop from the inside out. Professors and students, administrators and families are what make a college strong. They turn outward to the surrounding population to support, to encourage, and to motivate. And the population turns toward a school to educate the people that will make their city stable, their state secure, and their country free. Colleges and Universities allow communities the chance to embrace an educational institution. And together they support each other.
I believe strongly in the Liberal Arts education. It is impossible to be a well-rounded human being without an exposure to multiple subjects, and the Liberal Arts education provides such in its complete course of study. Each subject is connected and feeds into the other. By giving students a variety of techniques, they can create their own process for approaching everyday challenges. I strive to give my students freedom through choice and strength through flexibility.
My greatest challenge as an educator is bringing a sense of cohesion to the classroom. There are so many hurdles that can divide a group of people, but encouraging them to think as an ensemble is how communities are built. Whether a student is Hispanic, Asian, Indian, Black, or Native American, we must all be treated as viable, intelligent, individuals. I teach to the student's needs, and I believe in provoking them at their own level. Diversity is the bedrock of our country, and by creating a cohesive environment we can all achieve more.
I take very seriously the power that a teacher can hold over the mind of a student. I hope to shape students that are advocates of their values, yet respectful of the opinions of others. I believe that our students deserve a safe place to exchange their hopes and fears, thereby bringing them a more solid understanding of the global dynamics. In guiding our students through theatre, I hope to create a sense of life-long learning and appreciation of the arts and education. My desire and commitment to the theatre arts challenges each of my students to become bold human beings. And I believe that through theatre education, we can unlock the artist that lies deep within the human spirit.
- THA-101 Introduction to Theatre
- THA-120 Acting
- THA-220 Acting II
- THA-223 Actor's Voice
- THA-224 Movement of the Actor
- THA-310 Directing
- THA-320 Acting III: Period Styles
- THA-440 Creative Dramatics
- ENG-343 Drama at Stratford
- ENG-342 Modern British and American Drama
- IDS-371 21st Century England, Documentary Drama
- THA-350 Travel Study in the UK: Performative Theatre
- Mellon Foundation Faculty Career Enhancement Grant "21st Century Shakespeare" (2011-2012)
- Standout Comedy Production in Silicon Valley Small Theatre Awards for "Sophie" in THE WHITE LIARS and "Clea" in BLACK COMEDY (2010)
- University of Alabama Marian Gallaway Award for Distinguished Graduate Acting (2005)
- "Portia" in The Merchant of Venice directed by Jayce T. Tromsness at The Warehouse Theatre (2012)
- "Boston/Katie" in Something More than a Game directed by Chip Egan at The Warehouse Theatre (2011)
- "Marcia" in Identity Crisis directed by Peter Saputo at CENTRE STAGE GREENVILLE (2011)
- "Titania" in A Midsummer Night's Dream directed by Gayle Cornelison at California Theatre Center (2010)
- "DeeDee" in Where or When? directed by Mike Ward at The Magic Theatre (2009)
- "Mirandolina" in Liberty Inn directed by Will Huddleston at California Theatre Center (2008)