Faculty Spotlight on Neena McLain: Shaping the Stage at McMurry Theatre

Issue 25: February 28, 2024

In her own words and experiences, Neena McLain paints a vivid picture of the vibrant and collaborative world of McMurry Theatre, where passion, hard work, and creativity converge to shape the next generation of theatre enthusiasts and professionals.

“I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre (acting concentration),” shares Neena McLain, Assistant Professor and Head of Theatre at McMurry. With three decades of theatre experience, Neena has managed professional theatres, directed and acted professionally, and taught theatre to students of all ages. “I am also a storyteller and recently Mrs. Claus,” she adds, revealing the delightful facets of her creative endeavors.

“At McMurry, our theatre students take an active role in every aspect of producing theatre. Students have the opportunity to act, direct, write, and design and even stage manage,” she notes, emphasizing the hands-on approach that distinguishes McMurry’s theatre program.

“In theatre, the director’s vision is where a show begins. Designers and actors create based on that vision, each interpreting the vision through their own individual lens,” Neena articulates, emphasizing the highly collaborative nature of theatre. “Theatre is storytelling, and designers and actors assist a director to more effectively tell the story.”

“To be successful in theatre, professionally or in education, the artist must be prepared to work long hours, twelve-to-sixteen-hour days are not unusual,” she responds to the misconception that an education and a life in theatre are simple or easy. “To be an effective artist/educator, you must stay on top of current trends and continue to learn.”

“At McMurry, our theatre students take an active role in every aspect of producing theatre,” she reiterates, emphasizing the rigorous preparation and commitment required for success in the field.

“One of our alums is currently teaching in our theatre department! Another alum is the executive director of the Paramount Theatre,” Neena proudly highlights the success stories of McMurry Theatre alumni. “I recently spoke with a theatre alum who is currently a vice president of a marketing company, she stated that if she had an opening, she would always seriously consider hiring a theatre major because she knows the work ethic that is required to be in theatre.”

“The program is strong. We are in a season of growth and reflection on curricular changes to keep us on top of current University trends,” Neena reveals, expressing enthusiasm for the future of McMurry Theatre. “I am excited to implement the curricular changes we are currently working on.”