November 15, 2016
By Emily Lapinski
Senior Joseph Farrell, most recently see as Fester in Dominican’s production of The Addams Family, sat down to discuss his road to the stage as well as plans his for the future.
What got you into acting?
I started theatre when I was in second grade. I was the only boy in the choir and they wanted more boys so they asked me if I could keep doing it and I said sure. However, my sister was my real inspiration for doing theatre because she did it first. I didn’t like it when I started because I felt like I didn’t belong and didn’t really know anyone but I got really serious about it when I transferred from a Catholic to a public school to a public school where they had a bigger theatre department. That’s when I really decided that I want to pursue this. When I got to college my first show here was Rent and I played Angel and that was the show that really further solidified my passion.
What other shows have you done?
I’ve played a lot of interesting roles. I played a sixteen-year-old boy who killed a little boy in a show called Rabbit Hole. It was really sad. I played a cross dresser, I played Aldolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone and then I played Fester in The Addams Family. Every year I go back to my community theatre and I do the shows there as well. Recently I was Seaweed in Hairspray, which was really great.
What do you enjoy most about theatre?
Some people like sports and some people are good at writing but for me it’s theatre. It’s very natural to me. While some people are focused on the just the character it’s easier for me to focus on the character as a real person. I think about their mannerisms and what they have been through and things like that. That’s what I was trying to do with Fester. I asked myself how I could embody him and I thought that under all the funniness there’s vulnerability and he is a real person. I was trying to find that sense of vulnerability in everything I did and I think that’s what I love most about theatre. You can play and really transform into anyone.
Do you have a specific way that you prepare for a role?
I do have a specific way that I do things. When it comes to shows I know people know, like with Angel in Rent, what I do is I try not copy other actors but recognize that there are things people expect for it to be a good show. I like to do research on the characters and explore the things they do with their head and other mannerism. Fester likes to raise his shoulders and have big eyes so that was something I made sure to bring to the character. I saw this in a documentary on Hamilton where they said that theatre is becoming more and more about history and I think that’s what I do. I research and I try to figure out how the characters act in the things that they do. In the theatre world we are taught to create a backstory for our character no matter what it is.
What are your plans after graduation?
Along with my double major in Sociology and Performance Theater I am taking a couple of classes as an undergraduate for the Graduate School of Social Work. My plan is to apply there for next fall. I am currently doing a two-week professional audition for Summer Stock, which is a summer theatre program. They pick you out from a big group of people, you audition, get callbacks and if you make it then you have a job for the summer. I am also auditioning for the production of Hair at the professional theatre around my hometown called Metropolis. I don’t want to get a masters degree in theatre quite yet because I want to get the experience I need. I do eventually want to teach theatre. For right now it’s about going to different places and auditioning at different places and just keeping my craft refreshed.
What do you think of the dynamic of a theatre program at a small school?
I think it is the most amazing thing ever. The theatre program at Dominican trains you to get out of the background and to not be afraid to stand out in a good way. What’s nice about a small school is that everybody is rooting for you and no one wants you to fail. That’s what I love. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, some people are more into musical theatre and others just straight acting, but we all support each other. The program is so small and we can harness in on our different talents because we all get that face-to-face time with the directors and the teachers. It makes me so happy.