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 2021-2022

Theatre

Actors Workshop: Crafting a Character in Film and Theatre

Open, Component—Year

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. In the first semester, we will explore characters and monologues that motivate each actor’s imagination. After analysing the text, defining the imagery, and exploring the emotional choices of the actor, we will work on self-taping our work for auditions. The second semester will be devoted to scene work: the techniques used to develop a heightened connection with your scene partner, the importance of listening, and finding your impulses as you work on your feet in the rehearsal room. We will observe the work and read the theories of Declan Donnellan’s The Actor and the Target and Stephen Wangh’s An Acrobat of the Heart.

Faculty

Contemporary New Works: An Exploration of the American Playwright

Open, Component—Year

This class will explore the works of contemporary playwrights. Students will choose two plays, and we will spend the first semester preparing those works for production. Each student may choose to act, direct, or design. The actors will define their character’s journey and develop the imagery, subtext, and history of the character. The directors and designers will develop their personal concept using visual art, video, sketches, and other written text. All students will research and dramaturge the script they have chosen. We will immerse ourselves in the world of these plays and experience how a theatre artist might fully prepare for a theatrical creation. Second semester will be devoted to performance and production. The directors and designers will choose sections of the plays that we will cast with the actors. We will rehearse and design a practicum production at the end of the year. The plays will be chosen from current American playwrights, such as Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, Annie Baker, Lynn Nott age, David Admit, Anne Washburn, Sarah Ruhl, Samuel Hunter, Satori Hall. Adam Rap, and Robert Asking. These writers have all created “bold works that have set the scene for 21st-century actors, giving voice to the modern experience,” according to The New York Times. They are a vital part of the American theatre today and are influential in shaping and developing the work of the actor, director, and designer.

Faculty

Creating Your Own Comedy

Intermediate, Component—Year

This class will begin with an exploration of the classic structures of stand-up comedy. The concepts of set up and punch, acting out, and heightened wordplay will be employed, along with the techniques used to create and become comic characters using your past, the news, and the current social environment to craft a comic routine. Discovering what is recognizably funny to an audience is the labor of the comic artist. The athletics of the creative comedic mind and your own individual perspective on the world that surrounds you are the primary objectives of the first semester. We will also study theories of comedy through the writings of Henri Bergson (philosopher), John Wright (director), and Christopher Fry (playwright). The second semester will be designed for collaboration through improvisational techniques, long-form improvisational games (Harold), performance techniques for comic sketch writing and group work, and exercises to develop the artist’s freedom and confidence in a collaborative group setting. The ensemble will learn to trust the spontaneous response and their own comic madness as they write, perform, and create scenarios together. At the end of the second semester, there will be a formal presentation of the comedy devised during the year.

Faculty

Improvisation: Finding Spontaneity in Performance

Open, Component—Year

Improvisation strengthens the spontaneous imagination; it is the athletics of the creative mind. Schiller wrote of a “watcher at the gates of the mind” who examines ideas too closely. He believed that, in the creative mind, “the intellect has withdrawn its watcher from the gates, and the ideas rush in pell-mell—and only then does it review and inspect the multitude.” Experiencing this creative mind is the focus of the majority of the first-semester exercises. These improvisations will develop the freedom and confidence of the artist and student. Schiller also said that “uncreative people are simply ashamed of the momentary passing madness which is found in all real creators.” It is the goal of the first semester to open those creative minds and train the artist to trust the spontaneous response and this passing madness. In this class, we will be developing scenarios and situations that heighten your ability to invent, give you physical freedom, and improve the emotional truth in your work. We will be creating monologues and characters at the moment; exploring exercises for creating a strong community in a classroom, youth center, town hall, or work environment; and collaborating on ideas for pitching projects. For actors and directors, we will practice techniques for film improvisations, TV commercials, and theatre auditions to develop the artist’s range. For non-theatre students, we will be focusing on confidence and trust in their original ideas. Any performance—whether experimental, classical, or in a business environment—begins with the artist’s own personal experience. Whether you are collaborating with a start-up team, giving a speech to a community, or acting on stage, the spontaneous moment is often the most compelling.

Faculty

Graduate Courses 2021-2022

MFA Theatre

Actors Workshop

Open, Component—Year

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. In the first semester, we will explore characters and monologues that motivate each actor’s imagination. After analysing the text, defining the imagery, and exploring the emotional choices of the actor, we will work on self-taping our work for auditions. The second semester will be devoted to scene work: the techniques used to develop a heightened connection with your scene partner, the importance of listening, and finding your impulses as you work on your feet in the rehearsal room. We will observe the work and read the theories of Declan Donnellan’s The Actor and the Target and Stephen Wangh’s An Acrobat of the Heart.

Faculty

Contemporary New Works: An Exploration of the American Playwright

Open, Component—Year

This class will explore the works of contemporary playwrights. Students will choose two plays, and we will spend the first semester preparing those works for production. Each student may choose to act, direct, or design. The actors will define their character’s journey and develop the imagery, subtext, and history of the character. The directors and designers will develop their personal concept using visual art, video, sketches, and other written text. All students will research and dramaturge the script they have chosen. We will immerse ourselves in the world of these plays and experience how a theatre artist might fully prepare for a theatrical creation. Second semester will be devoted to performance and production. The directors and designers will choose sections of the plays that we will cast with the actors. We will rehearse and design a practicum production at the end of the year. The plays will be chosen from current American playwrights, such as Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, Annie Baker, Lynn Nott age, David Admit, Anne Washburn, Sarah Ruhl, Samuel Hunter, Satori Hall. Adam Rap, and Robert Asking. These writers have all created “bold works that have set the scene for 21st-century actors, giving voice to the modern experience,” according to The New York Times. They are a vital part of the American theatre today and are influential in shaping and developing the work of the actor, director, and designer.

Faculty

Creating Your Own Comedy

Intermediate, Component—Year

This class will begin with an exploration of the classic structures of stand-up comedy. The concepts of set up and punch, acting out, and heightened wordplay will be employed, along with the techniques used to create and become comic characters using your past, the news, and the current social environment to craft a comic routine. Discovering what is recognizably funny to an audience is the labor of the comic artist. The athletics of the creative comedic mind and your own individual perspective on the world that surrounds you are the primary objectives of the first semester. We will also study theories of comedy through the writings of Henri Bergson (philosopher), John Wright (director), and Christopher Fry (playwright). The second semester will be designed for collaboration through improvisational techniques, long-form improvisational games (Harold), performance techniques for comic sketch writing and group work, and exercises to develop the artist’s freedom and confidence in a collaborative group setting. The ensemble will learn to trust the spontaneous response and their own comic madness as they write, perform, and create scenarios together. At the end of the second semester, there will be a formal presentation of the comedy devised during the year.

Faculty

Improvisation: Finding Spontaneity in Performance

Open, Component—Year

Improvisation strengthens the spontaneous imagination; it is the athletics of the creative mind. Schiller wrote of a “watcher at the gates of the mind” who examines ideas too closely. He believed that, in the creative mind, “the intellect has withdrawn its watcher from the gates, and the ideas rush in pell-mell—and only then does it review and inspect the multitude.” Experiencing this creative mind is the focus of the majority of the first-semester exercises. These improvisations will develop the freedom and confidence of the artist and student. Schiller also said that “uncreative people are simply ashamed of the momentary passing madness which is found in all real creators.” It is the goal of the first semester to open those creative minds and train the artist to trust the spontaneous response and this passing madness. In this class, we will be developing scenarios and situations that heighten your ability to invent, give you physical freedom, and improve the emotional truth in your work. We will be creating monologues and characters at the moment; exploring exercises for creating a strong community in a classroom, youth center, town hall, or work environment; and collaborating on ideas for pitching projects. For actors and directors, we will practice techniques for film improvisations, TV commercials, and theatre auditions to develop the artist’s range. For non-theatre students, we will be focusing on confidence and trust in their original ideas. Any performance—whether experimental, classical, or in a business environment—begins with the artist’s own personal experience. Whether you are collaborating with a start-up team, giving a speech to a community, or acting on stage, the spontaneous moment is often the most compelling.

Faculty

Previous Courses

MFA Theatre

An Actors Laboratory

Intermediate, Component—Year

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

An Actor’s Process

Intermediate/Advanced, Component—Year

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

Comedy Workshop

Intermediate, Component—Year

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; it is designed to introduce students to commedia dell’arte, vaudeville, parody, satire, and standup comedy. At the end of the final 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

Dramatic Improvisation: Finding Spontaneity in Performance

Intermediate, Component—Year

In this class, we will be developing scenarios and situations that heighten your ability to invent, give you a physical freedom, and improve the emotional truth in your work. We will be creating monologues and characters in the moment. Techniques for film improvisations, TV commercials, and theatre auditions will be used to develop the artist’s creativity. Acting—whether experimental, classical, or modern—begins with the actor’s own personal experience. At the end of the semester, we will work on self-taping for auditions and crafting material for an actor’s reel and website.

Faculty

The Art of Improvising: Athletics of the Creative Mind

Component—Fall

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

Theatre

Actor’s Workshop: The Actor’s Process—Introduction to Craft

Open, Component—Year

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. In the first semester, we will explore characters and monologues that motivate each actor’s imagination. After analysis of the text, defining the imagery, and exploring the emotional choices of the actor, we will work on self-taping our work for auditions. Second semester will be devoted to scene work, the techniques used to develop heightened connection with your scene partner, and the importance of listening and finding your impulses as you work on your feet in the rehearsal room. We will observe the work and read the theories of Declan Donnellan’s The Actor and the Target and Stephen Wangh’s An Acrobat of the Heart.

Faculty

Creating Your Own Comedy

Intermediate, Component—Year

This class will begin with an exploration of the classic structures of stand-up comedy.  The concepts of set-up and punch, acting out, and heightened wordplay will be employed. Techniques for creating and becoming comic characters from your own past, the news, and the current social environment will be used to craft a comic routine. Discovering what is recognizably funny to an audience is the labor of the comic artist. The athletics of the creative comedic mind and your own individual perspective on the world that surrounds you is the primary objective of the first semester. We will also study theories of comedy through the writings of Henri Bergson (philosopher), John Wright (director), and Christopher Fry (playwright). Second semester will be designed for collaboration through improvisational techniques; long-form improvisational games (Harold), and performance techniques for comic sketch writing and group work; and exercises to develop the artist’s freedom and confidence in a collaborative group setting. The ensemble will learn to trust the spontaneous response and their own comic madness as they write, perform, and create scenarios together. At the end of the second semester, there will be a formal presentation of the comedy devised during the year.

Faculty

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

The Actor’s Laboratory

Intermediate/Advanced, Component—Fall

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

The Senior Project

Advanced, Component—Spring

I wanted to become an artist because it meant endless possibilities. Art was a way of reinventing myself. —Sam Taylor-Wood

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do. —Georgia O’Keeffe

Be yourself, everyone else is already taken. —Oscar Wilde

This course is designed to prepare seniors for a career in the performing arts after graduation. Each student will develop a resume and audition material in his/her specific discipline or disciplines. We will focus on bringing in guest speakers and researching paid internships, job opportunities, and organizations in the arts. Applications and auditions for MFA programs and fellowships in all disciplines can be prepared for future submissions. You may want to spend a year reflecting and enjoying your freedom; you may want to jump instantly into the professional world as an actor, director, playwright, producer, or designer; or you may want to work for a theatre that you love and continue your education. This course will, hopefully, inspire your unique journey in the arts and give you specific tools to begin that career. The performance by all interested seniors in Sara Downtown in New York City will be organized and developed through this class. On Tuesdays, from 2:00-3:30 pm, we will have regular sessions and guest speakers. On Wednesday, from 1:30-3:30 pm, we will schedule individual sessions and smaller groups to focus on individual goals.

Faculty