Joseph Farley is coming to the O’Kane Theatre – Natural Self Esteem

Born as a military kid, Joseph “Joey” Farley had his share of picturesque views of the United States.

Born in North Carolina, he has lived in Florida, Upstate New York, Arkansas and now Houston.

Farley’s interest in theater first arose in his junior year of high school, in fact he said it was a “pre-prom celebration that included a ‘don’t drink and drive’ sketch that my cousin performed on stage . I thought it was cool and I joined him… and I loved it.”

As he considered his studies, he weighed his options with some reservations about job security. “I tossed a coin a hundred times (literally). In a landslide, I chose theater with no regrets,” he said, smiling.

During his undergraduate studies, he immersed himself in the theater program and worked professionally at the Connecticut Repertory Theater as a stagehand, eventually becoming a full-time carpenter for the summer season. He was an apprentice at the Santa Fe Opera and was promoted to supervisor in 2014. Farley earned a bachelor’s degree (majoring in theater/design) from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Farley will return to Santa Fe Opera this summer as Director of Stage.

Why scenic design? Farley believes, to some extent, that “everyone in theater always does the acting first. I acted and danced a bit.” But it was in high school that he discovered his talent for stage design. “I saw the potential and it was incredible. I can literally build any house on stage.”

Farley received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. His first job, post grad school, was in Houston.

He joined the O’Kane Theater last fall as an assistant professor of design and technical director, where his job encompasses everything – set design, lighting and design, and of course, teaching. Farley teaches two courses, Introduction to Theater and Stagecraft. In this semester he also teaches stage design, in which he summarizes all creative aspects in one course.

Even if he is teaching for the first time, his experiences as an undergraduate and graduate give good advice to his students.

“It’s about teaching students and showing them the industry. I want to make them discover their potential. I’m telling you, you won’t fail…You can fall down sometimes, but you have to get back up,” Farley stressed. “Theater and education are my passion. That’s why I wanted to be a professor.”

For the “The Royale” production he acts as technical director, stage and lighting designer. Along with O’Kane Theater faculty members Tim Klein and Luke Fedell, “I help create the world they envisioned based on their images and words.” Any roadblocks? “The fun Royal Render 2Part of scenic design is completing the challenges. I prefer to work at smaller venues like the O’Kane Theater because the set design needs to be much more detailed and calculated. My training derived from a more realistic design versus a more abstract one.”

“Right now, this production is extremely relevant in a lot of ways,” Farley said. “The main character is left with a choice of making progress or leaving things as they are. The lighting plays an important role in giving the actors those moments where they can really see into their soul… real life.”

Discussing the production settings that impressed him, he added: “Years ago I visited New York and saw the 1812 Broadway production of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet (based on an excerpt from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace). I’ve never experienced anything like this, and it further validated what I wanted to do in theatre.”

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