Broadway producer Manny Azenberg stresses importance of education, family

Published: Saturday, March 23 2013 3:10 p.m. MDT

“What is happiness?” he asks. “‘Happiness is equilibrium,’ Tom Stoppard wrote in 'The Real Thing.' I believe that happiness is equilibrium between your personal life and your professional life.” Azenberg was a producer of “The Real Thing,” which earned a Tony for Best Play, along with Tonys for three actors, at its 1984 Broadway premiere.

Anticipating the U. lecture, Azenberg says “working with students is what I have enjoyed more than any other thing in the theater. It’s a place where I can be totally honest. Any training in theater should be accompanied by an academic education.”

After teaching at NYU and Yale, he established a connection with Duke University when his daughter Lisa attended the university. For 25 years, while his plays were in production on Broadway, Azenberg traveled from his Manhattan home to the North Carolina campus, becoming a legendary adjunct professor along with his status as a prominent producer.

One of those former students, Preston Whiteway, has already earned his own Tony, at age 25. With Whiteway as executive director, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Conn., received a 2010 Tony for Best Regional Theater.

Whiteway credits many of the opportunities he has received to “the one and only Manny Azenberg.” A theater production course Azenberg taught “was far and away the best course I took at Duke, and his classes often took a turn into discussions of life. He was a tough teacher, but we all adored him,” he has said.

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