Christine Farrell

BA, Marquette University. MFA, Columbia University. One-Year Study Abroad, Oxford, England. Actress, playwright, director. Appeared for nine seasons as Pam Shrier, the ballistics detective on Law and Order. Acting credits on TV include Saturday Night Live and One Life to Live; films, Ice Storm, Fatal Attraction; stage: Comedy of Errors, Uncle Vanya, Catholic School Girls, Division Street, The Dining Room. Two published plays: Mama Drama and The Once Attractive Woman. Directed in colleges, as well as Off Broadway, and was the artistic director and co-founder of the New York Team for TheatreSports. Performed in comedy improvisation throughout the world. SLC, 1991–

Undergraduate Courses 2019-2020

Theatre

First Year Studies: The Art of Comic Performance: Style and Form

Open , FYS—Year

It is said that laughter happens “whenever there is a sudden rupture between thinking and feeling,” that it is a momentary “anesthesia of the heart.” Laughter can be a survival tactic and is often the best medicine. What made other generations and cultures laugh? What universal elements can we find in the history of comedy? In the first semester, this class will examine historical comedic forms, including: the characters of Commedia dell’Arte of the 16th century; Xiangsheng (crosstalk), a traditional Chinese performance art with roots in the Qing dynasty; and African American folktales, storytelling applied to black films of the early 20th century. Discovering the plot devices, timing, and traditions of these representative texts can inform the theatre artist in the demands of the actor, director, and writer of comedy. This is a studio class. Students will work “on their feet” in improvisational exercises, as they explore: status games to experience the pace and chaos of farce; the character constructions from Commedia dell’Arte; the style, language, and manners of Restoration; and the structures defined by vaudeville comedians (the comic and straight, slow burn, comic stop). What makes us laugh? In the second semester, we will work on the current long-form improv structures developed by Del Close, Keith Johnstone, and many of the present comedy troupes (Second City/UCB/Improv Olympics/Theatresports). We will build an ensemble of comic improvisers to cultivate each artist’s comedic style. The students will create their own material, using classic structures and their own comic persona. Individual conference meetings will alternate biweekly with small-group conference meetings.

Faculty

Comedy Workshop

Intermediate , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

An exploration of the classic structures of comedy and the unique comic mind, this course begins with a strong focus on improvisation and ensemble work. The athletics of the creative comedic mind is the primary objective of the first-semester exercises. Status play, narrative storytelling, and the Harold exercise are used to develop the artist’s freedom and confidence. The ensemble learns to trust the spontaneous response and their own comic madness. Second semester educates the theatre artist in the theories of comedy and is designed to introduce students to commedia dell’arte, vaudeville, parody, satire, and standup comedy. At the end of the second semester, each student will write five minutes of standup material that will be performed one night at a comedy club in New York City and then on the College campus on Comedy Night.

Faculty

Graduate Courses

Theatre 2019-2020

Comedy Workshop

Intermediate , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

An exploration of the classic structures of comedy and the unique comic mind, this course begins with a strong focus on improvisation and ensemble work. The athletics of the creative comedic mind is the primary objective of the first-semester exercises. Status play, narrative storytelling, and the Harold exercise are used to develop the artist’s freedom and confidence. The ensemble learns to trust the spontaneous response and their own comic madness. Second semester educates the theatre artist in the theories of comedy and is designed to introduce students to commedia dell’arte, vaudeville, parody, satire, and standup comedy. At the end of the second semester, each student will write five minutes of standup material that will be performed one night at a comedy club in New York City and then on the College campus on Comedy Night.

Faculty

Previous Courses

The Art of Improvising: Athletics of the Creative Mind

Open , Component—Fall

This class will meet once a week.

We will explore techniques for spontaneous behavior, immediate creation, and developing your creativity and truth on stage. The goal of the class exercises will be to build community and collaboration, to deepen your communication skills, and to strengthen your natural sense of humor. We will study the works of Viola Spolin, Keith Johnstone, Upright Citizens Brigade, and Second City.

Faculty

The Actor’s Laboratory

Intermediate/Advanced , Component—Fall

This class will meet twice a week.

This class is a laboratory for the actor; it is designed for actors with some experience and who are ready to search for the steps to a fully involved performance. We will explore the theories and techniques of Stanislavski and Grotowski. We will read Stanislavski in Rehearsal, by Vasili Torporkov, and At Work with Grotowski on Physical Action, by Thomas Richards. Throughout the semester, each student will work on one 10-minute scene from a major playwright.

Faculty

An Actor’s Process

Intermediate/Advanced , Component—Year

This class will meet twice a week.

This class is a laboratory for the actor. It is designed for performers who are ready to search for the steps to a fully involved performance. What are the tools you currently use to become a character in a play or a film? What will expand your work, ground you in the moment of the situation, and strengthen your authentic voice? What are your habits, and what are your strengths? Over the course of the year, each student will work on four scenes chosen from four different styles and categories: comic, dramatic, heightened language, and character stretch (ex: accent role or opposing type). The class will focus on creating a classic actor’s score, working with physical improvisations within the scene text and situation and emotion memory. We will use a camera in class to explore your work in some rehearsals and presentations.

Faculty

An Actors Laboratory

Intermediate , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

This class is an exploration of your process as an actor. It is designed for performers who are ready to search for the steps to a fully involved performance. What are the tools you currently use to become a character in a play? What are the methods of the great masters that will add to your own unique process? What will expand your work, ground you in the moment of the situation, strengthen your authentic voice, and develop a performance that is full bodied? How do you take the tools that you now have and incorporate the concepts of the master teachers into your work? First semester, we will work on a monologue to find your authentic voice and a scene to discover what exists in your current process. What are your habits, and what are your strengths? How do you work on a role? Second semester, you will learn the techniques of crafting comedy through a comic scene and practice shifting from stage to screen with a theatre scene that we will place on camera. We will read essays on comic theory and film acting written by great actors.

Faculty