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The Passion Project: Joan’s Story is in the Room

The Passion Project should not be watched, it should be entered into. After all, it is an act of devotion.
— Helen Shaw, Time Out NY 

Magical, and sinister, and strange – one of the most satisfying theatrical experiences I’ve had in ages.
— Claudia La Rocco, Culturebot 

What beauty there is in Mr. Farrington’s work. Like Dreyer’s film it is both luminous and cruel.
— Claudia La Rocco, The New York Times 

I had three questions for this articulate and fervent artist and afterward his answers filled four absorbing pages. 

Reid Farrington is a media artist, theatre director, stage designer, choreographer as well as an engaging conversationalist. He creates what some might mistakenly think is performance art, what others might think is post modern performance, but in actuality is what Farrington insists astutely must be experienced as theatre.  

Passion is the Project 
Drama is Farrington’s métier because his clear goal is to offer the audience foremost an emotional experience, the classic impulse of all theatre. There are his “love of the technical” and the “physicality of the theatre” with its props and actors, but the attraction of theatre is that “its purpose for me is to effect the audience emotionally,” speaking on the telephone from his Brooklyn loft.  

Reid Farrington has tried The Passion Project in different iterations, processing it first in video (“dull and passive”), then as projections on his loft’s white walls (“dead” “my purpose unactivated”), and finally to the more dimensional and audience-involving present version. With well over 150 performances of this version, worked through three different performers, Farrington notes the valuable “vulnerability” inherent in the work of the present performer, Laura Nicoll. “She leads and guides the audience.” He gives the feeling that his work has hit its zenith. 

In the Room 
“The story of Joan of Arc is in the room,” Farrington notes with “one hundred cues to hit every minute, the choreography makes connections for the audience.” 

This is confirmed by audience members who have experienced the work already. The audience members situate around an open stage area during the 35 minute performance and are invited to move about to achieve different points of view, affording different paradigms, different approaches to the passions unfolding and layering. This intimate theatrical space is defined by ropes as well as Farrington’s significantly fragile projection screens which are like defenseless minimal sculptures upon which are projected a complex unfolding of multiple images from the stunning and compelling Carl-Theodor Dreyer 1928 silent film masterpiece La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc. Included as well are recorded interviews, various sound clips, combining into a kind of gesamtkunstwerk (synthesis of art forms) on archival film concerns. 

Techno Guy Brings Emotions Forward 

Speaking about his passion for theatre and passion 
“I would say that I am firmly based in the world of theatre and I am a new media artist and director.” With this project, his first on his own with a “serious blend” of choreography, film and acting, he breaks away from being the resident video artist (think: artistic techie) for the N.Y.C. Wooster Group, a group Mr. Farrington characterizes as technical rather than emotional—“They shy away from the emotional.”  

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