Darren Farrington is Executive Director of New Britain Youth Theater, and has worked in nonprofit and commercial theater companies on Broadway, Off Broadway, and in regional, community and children’s theaters. Among those companies are Manhattan Theatre Club; the Shubert Organization; the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (the service and advocacy organization for New York City nonprofit theaters); the Warner Theatre in Torrington; Newington Children’s Theatre Company; and several small companies in New York City. Darren is also an arts management consultant, both privately and for the Peer Advisor Network of the Connecticut Office of the Arts. In addition to managing and producing, Darren has also acted, directed, designed, stage managed, and developed and led drama programs for preschool, elementary school, and middle school children. Darren holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University School of the Arts in Theater Production and Management. He is also a licensed attorney with a degree from Fordham University School of Law. He received his undergraduate degree from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where his activities included serving as president of an extracurricular theater group and as a mentor for bilingual inner-city children.
- Darren, did you always know that you wanted to serve others and help today’s youth?
I didn’t actually. I’ve had a couple of careers, and ten years ago I returned to my first love of producing and working in theater—but that wasn’t specifically children’s theater at the time. At most of the theaters at which I worked though, there were educational programs for children. It was always those programs—and seeing the children’s excitement from being onstage or in the audience—that made me feel the best about my work. About six years ago, I began consulting for a children’s theater, and four years ago I had the opportunity to help begin New Britain Youth Theater.
- Can you walk us through how you first got started in your career path?
I’ve loved theater since elementary school. I considered several careers through high school and college, but I decided on attending graduate school for theater management and production. I worked in that field for a few years, and then decided to attend law school. I began a career as an entertainment and financial litigator and appellate attorney, but couldn’t see myself doing that for life. I returned to theater, as I mentioned above, and found my focus in programming for children and teens a few years later.
- How did you handle the bumps in the road? Were there any moments when you wondered if all your hard work was worth it?
There have been bumps that I saw coming, bumps that surprised me, and some bumps that I created myself. There were absolutely times when I wondered if I was on the right path. Law school and working as an attorney was a wrong path for me, so I corrected my course. In times since then when working in theater has been challenging, I thought about whether I could really be happy and successful doing anything else. For anyone passionate about a career—like I am for theater—you have to believe that your passion will lead to success.
- I’m wondering if you can help us understand what you attribute your success to.
After making some career mistakes, I’ve learned that you just keep working. You change what you need to, fix what you need to, and keep trying to improve. I don’t think that success is an endpoint or is even defined by the absence of failure. Success is being able to work through failures, to keep at what you love, and to be true to yourself and your work.
- What do teens need today more than anything else?
Teens need something to be passionate about and people to share that passion with. That can be theater, sports, arts, some other club or organization, or a goal that they have. With a reason to work hard and do their best, and plenty of encouragement and support, they’ll learn that hard work is fun and leads to small and then greater successes. The worst thing for teens, or for anyone, is to stop caring about anything, and to think that nobody cares about them.
- Darren, what would you tell a teen who was struggling?
My answers are cliché. Don’t quit. Work through it. Get help if you need it. It gets better. But those clichés are repeated over and over because they’re true. If you don’t have the support you need, keep talking to people and keep reaching out. Someone does care about you. Don’t give up until you find that person and face your struggles together.
- What else do you want to tell us about what you do and what you want to eventually be doing?
One of the things I most enjoy doing is giving children and teens the opportunity to create theater of their own. Whether it’s improv, or devised theater, or having them collaborate on a script, they always have a lot to contribute. Theater really teaches children to be both individually creative and great team members working together. I hope to continue the work I’ve been doing and continue to make NBYT a leading children’s theater in the region and state.
- Can you please share with all of us something else that I should have asked you?
I’d like to tell children and teens how they can get involved with New Britain Youth Theater. NBYT offers after-school programs in several New Britain schools, but the theater also holds auditions and offers classes in acting, musical theater, and improv that are open to anyone from any town. In the past four years, the theater has had participants from fifty towns throughout Connecticut. The theater’s website is www.nbyt.org.
- How can people get in touch with you if they have additional questions?
I can be reached at New Britain Youth Theater at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-515-8115.
Thanks for your time Darren and keep up the good work! Our youth needs more people like you!
Author and Speaker of the Granddaddy’s Secrets teen leadership book series.
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