Herman D. Farrell III

Herman Daniel Farrell III is a University Research Professor and Professor in the Department of Theatre & Dance, College of Fine Arts, University of Kentucky. He received a B.A., cum laude, in Drama from Vassar College, a J.D. from New York University School of Law and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Columbia University. He is an award-winning playwright/screenwriter and noted Eugene O’Neill scholar.

He was co-writer of the award winning (Peabody Award, NAACP Image Award) HBO Film Boycott about Martin Luther King, Jr. His plays received world-premiers at The Flea Theater, Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, New York International Fringe Festival, Echo Theater and workshops at Manhattan Theater Club, Crossroads Theater, Working Theater and Primary Stages. Farrell’s work has been honored by national arts organizations: New Dramatists, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference and the MacDowell Colony.

Farrell’s new book, A Playwright’s Journey, is slated to be published by McFarland & Company in 2020. The book is based on the life, work and legacy of Eugene O’Neill. In addition to offering up a playwright’s perspective on the life and work of one of the world’s great dramatists, the book will also weave into the story of O’Neill’s journey, the stories of contemporary American playwrights as they make their way through the ups and downs of a life in the theatre. The following playwrights will be interviewed for the book: Robert Schenkkan (Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award); Doug Wright (Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award); David Lindsay-Abaire (Pulitzer Prize); and Kia Corthron (Windham Campbell Prize). 

Professor Farrell is also at work on Way of Life: A Biography of Lloyd Richards. Richards was the Tony-Award winning director of Fences by August Wilson and director of more than half of Wilson's great cycle of plays, as well as the individual who discovered August Wilson. Richards was Dean of the Yale School of Drama and Artistic Director of the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center where he nurtured and trained many of our finest actors, Michael Douglass, Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett and Viola Davis, to name just a few, as well as scores of American playwrights, directors, designers and dramaturgs. He was the most influential American theater maker in the second half of the 20th century.

Farrell completed a Travis Bogard Fellowhip at Tao House, the Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site in Danville, California where he developed his new play, Journey. The first act of the play was published in The Eugene O'Neill Review. Farrell's essay "The Ancient Mariner and O’Neill’s Intertextual Epiphany" was published in the book Intertextuality in American Drama: Critical Essays on Eugene O'Neill. "A Clannish Pride" - Eugene O’Neill’s Eventual Embrace of His Irish Heritage was presented in 2017 at the 10th Eugene O’Neill International Conference at the National University of Ireland, Galway and was published in 2018 in The Eugene O’Neill Review. Farrell’s essay “New Discoveries: The Marriage Certificate of Eugene O’Neill and Carlotta Monterey (July 22, 1929) / Sean O’Casey Letter to Eugene O’Neill (November 25, 1936)” was published in December 2019 in The Eugene O’Neill Review (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2019) Vol. 40, No. 2, 154-84. And Farrell presented a paper “The First Federal Summer Theatre: Training Ground for Theatrical Experimentation” at Colloque International Federal Theatre Project (1935-39), University of Toulouse, Jean Jaures, Toulouse, France, October 17-19, 2019. And the paper will be published later this year by E-Theatrum Mundi (Sorbonne University Press) in a volume on the Federal Theatre Project.

Play productions and awards: civilian, 2011 New York International Fringe Festival; Rome, 2004 New York International Fringe Festival; Portrait of a President, 2002 New York International Fringe Festival (Excellence in Playwriting Award); Solo Goya, Lincoln Center’s Director’s Lab at HERE (NY 1998); Bedfellows, The Flea Theater (NY 1997), The Echo Theater Company (LA 1996) (Drama-Logue Award & Critic’s Choice); Precipice, ALLOVERPOLLOCKOVERALL, Solo Goya, The Empty Space (NY 1995); Union, Lehman College Center for Performing Arts (NY, 1992); Succeed, Miller Theater, Columbia University (NY, 1991); Dreams of the Son: A Life of Eugene O’Neill, West End Theatre (NY 1984).

Farrell’s work has been recognized and honored by several national arts institutions: New Dramatists (Member Playwright 1995-2002, Joe Calloway Award); NEA Grant (To Mandela at The Working Theater 1998); NEA Grant (There at Primary Stages 1996); MacDowell Colony (Fellow 1996); 1994, 1995 & 1999 National Playwrights Conference (Bedfellows, Brodkin Scholarship Award, There, 1st Eric Kocher Playwriting Award and Memorial Day).  Other recent workshop/readings include a reading of Supremacy (2018) and Cousins Table (2016) at New Dramatists and a short commissioned work for the American Slavery Project called Assento as part of the Writing Collaborative of Unheard Voices, a theatrical response to the African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan. Excerpts from the work received a staged reading in 2012 at the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Cultural Center in NYC.

Farrell is the former Kentucky Regional Representative for the Dramatists Guild of America, a member of the Eugene O'Neill Society and an alumnus of New Dramatists. At the University of Kentucky, he teaches playwriting, theatre history, play analysis, seminars in dramatic literature (Eugene O’Neill, August Wilson, Contemporary Playwrights), Honors Courses and an Education Abroad Course in Paris, France. He served as Director of the Studio Season, Chair of the Senate Admissions and Academic Standards Committee, University Senator and was recently honored with the 2018 Outstanding Faculty Senator Award and the 2018 University Research Professor Award.

Farrell worked as a corporate litigator at Breed, Abbott & Morgan and the Law Offices of Mark P. Zimmett in New York City where he conducted legal research, drafted briefs and memoranda, appeared in state and federal court and supervised junior lawyers and staff. At NYU School of Law, Farrell was a Notes & Comment Editor of The Review of Law & Social Change and served on the Executive Board of the Black Allied Law Student Association. He was elected president of the student body of Vassar College and John F. Kennedy High School and was awarded the Senior Black Leadership Award by the Vassar Student Afro-American Society.  Farrell is an Eagle Scout. He lives in Midway, Kentucky.

Theatre & Dance
Professor of Theatre
Playwriting, History


138 Fine Arts Building