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Unexpected Productions' Education Director, Jill Farris, Named Interim Artistic Director

Farris, began her improv career in 1992 in Seattle with Unexpected Productions, where she performed weekly in countless shows and Theatresports.

Unexpected Productions' Education Director, Jill Farris, Named Interim Artistic Director

Unexpected Productions' Education Director, Jill Farris, has been named UP's new Interim Artistic Director and is tasked to re-focus and highlight the theater's goals, invigorate the ensemble, and continue to move the company towards the goal of delivering spontaneous theater that reflects the community in which we perform. Unexpected Productions has been a leader, not just in Seattle, but worldwide, for innovative improv.

"Jill Farris has been an inspiration to me and many of our current and former cast members. She continues to inspire students of all levels and backgrounds. We are so lucky to have her step into this new role. I'm excited to work with her in the new capacity," said Jay Hitt, Unexpected Productions' Managing Director.

Farris jumped right into her new role. "It's been so exciting. I have been attending as many shows as possible to observe, take notes and provide support to the theater and players," said Farris. "For each show, I am looking at the logistics and transitions, as well as the improv practices and principals within the scenes, and then making adjustments accordingly. We can make small changes that have a big impact on the quality of our performances," she said.

Farris, began her improv career in 1992 in Seattle with Unexpected Productions, where she performed weekly in countless shows and Theatresports. During her earlier time at Unexpected Productions, Farris served as the Associate Artistic Director from 2004 to 2007, Education Director, teacher, and performer. She returned to Unexpected Productions as Education Director in 2017 and became Interim Artistic Director in September 2021.

Farris has been on 13 European improv tours with Unexpected Productions and former AD Randy Dixon. While living in Philadelphia, Farris joined Stray, a New York improv group as a player/director, and performed at Armando Diaz's theatre, The Magnet. She has also been a guest performer and teacher for Hot Cocco Productions in Hartford, Connecticut.

Unexpected Productions Board of Directors named Farris to the position when Randy Dixon retired as Artistic Director after 33 years in the post.

Current Artistic Associates, Tony Beeman, and Laurel Ryan, have been working with Farris for years and are excited about this transition. They have been assisting Farris with upcoming projects and casting. "Our criterion for casting is driven by our philosophy on improv, and our commitment toward diversity and inclusion," said Farris.

Farris has been active in invigorating UP's established ensemble. "I have been using our twice-monthly company workshops to increase the skills of our company of improvisers, to familiarize them with our current shows, and to develop our sense of community to strengthen trust to take the risks that allow us to learn and perform together," she said.

Today, Unexpected Productions is 54 members strong, with 40 shows per month. The tightly woven ensemble uses audience suggestions, experiences, and sometimes even the audience themselves to create shows that are unique, thought-provoking, and always entertaining.

Unexpected Productions company members have been performing, teaching, & participating in festivals with improv groups all around the US and the world. In so doing, Unexpected Productions has established a global reputation as a leader in improvisation & innovators in the craft.

In addition to ensemble growth and development, Farris is helping the company's leadership team and board in improving the company's policies, organizational structure, and strategic planning.

Unexpected Productions is the heart of improv in Seattle, located at the Market Theater, in historic Pike Place Market, at the world-famous Gum Wall!

Farris helped the theater weather and pandemic and has created a robust show schedule with some exciting new formats including the Duo Comedy Showcase on Wednesdays at 8 pm, Loose Cannons on Thursdays at 8 pm (featuring invited guests improvisers from around the sound); An Improvised Hip Hopera: Love Revival at 7 pm on Fridays and Saturdays; the legendary Theatresports every Friday and Saturday at 9 pm; and, Genre Box on Sundays at 8 pm.



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