John Farrell Remembrance

From Shakespeare by the Sea & Little Fish Theatre:
In Memoriam: John Farrell (1951 – 2015)

John Farrell

As many of you know, the theatre community in Los Angeles was dealt a heavy loss in 2015. John Farrell, who had covered theatre, opera, and classical music in LA for over 30 years passed away suddenly. We here at Shakespeare by the Sea and Little Fish Theatre were especially saddened, as we considered John almost a de facto member of our company due to his overwhelming support. In our 18 years performing Shakespeare across Los Angeles, South Bay, and Orange County, we cannot recall a single show that John did not attend and applaud.

That is not to say that John Farrell was not a discerning critic! He had his share of qualms and quibbles with productions, but his number one consideration was always “did the show entertain?” John was quick to follow up with “did the production strive to be unique, sharp, and professional?” He could often see past flaws and into the heart of the art placed before him. John gave many aspiring artists the courage to grow in their art thanks to his insight. He was never petty, never mean, and never cruel, even when stripping a show completely bare.

What we will miss the most about John was his presence in the audience. John was jovial without being boisterous, passionate without being overbearing, critical but without rancor. He is well-known for his flamboyant appearance, the long jackets, loud colors, burly beard and amazing assortment of hats. But he was never calling attention to himself by his dress, merely playing his part in the shared experience of the theatre. He was the consummate audience member, never demanding the attention of the stage, but respecting the notion of the Holy Theatre by making each show he attended an event to be cherished.

This is nowhere more evident than in his own choice of Facebook profile picture: a man dressed impeccably for the theatre in tuxedo, white bow tie, top hat… but without a face. John Farrell’s style wasn’t about him, it was about the theatre and its lustrous tradition. John was that rare too-often-missing piece of modern theatre, the Theatre Audience, and he played his part with passion unmatched. We will remember and treasure him for that above all else. Rest in Peace John Farrell.