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.