Sunday, July 26, 2015

Spotlight On...Knud Adams

Name: Knud Adams (That’s pronounced like Canoe with a T and spelled like Dunk backwards.)

Hometown: We moved around a bunch: It was Denver, Berkley, France, Berkley, England, France, Scotland, and Cincinnati, in that order.

Education: After graduating Kenyon College, I spent four years assisting my favorite directors in New York. Before all that, growing up abroad, my mother dragged my five siblings and me to almost every art museum in Western Europe. Some days we would even get to skip school to go museum hopping. Discovering that she was an Impressionist and I was an Abstract Expressionist was my first act of independence, and I still love to reference paintings in my design process. That was an education.

Favorite Credits: That’s impossible! I don’t even like the word. But I’m most proud of the brilliant writers I’ve been working with lately, young geniuses such as Sam Alper, Will Arbery, Eliza Bent, Nick Jones, Jason Kim, Max Posner, Amelia Roper, Jenny Schwartz, Torrey Townsend, and now Carl Holder.

Why theater?: I love an underdog.

Tell us about An Intimate Evening With Typhoid Mary: This marvelously strange play is about a young man in a hospital dying from a horrific unnamed disease. In his fevered delirium, he imagines himself performing a cabaret act, channeling the historical figure Typhoid Mary. The play is about an artist’s impulse to rage against death with creation and about how to make the most of a sticky situation. We have an eclectic cast of bad-asses: Carl Holder, Peter Mills Weiss, Justin Kuritzkes, Celine Song, and Claire Siebers.

What inspired you to direct An Intimate Evening With Typhoid Mary?: Reed Birney introduced me to Carl and this play, so he is our official matchmaker and patron saint. I was immediately taken by the complexity and fearlessness of Carl’s writing, especially the way he combines tremendous flights of fantasy with the raw sincerity of personal experience.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love plays that capture authentic human experiences pushing against radical theatrical forms. In my own work, I take inspiration from the film directors Kubrick, Malle, and Haneke, as well as the world-class theater directors I’ve been lucky to assist, including AndrĂ© Gregory, Elizabeth LeCompte, Richard Foreman, Sam Gold, and Sarah Benson.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Literally Tilda Swinton.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Recently, 10 out of 12 and The Flick.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Six people would play different interpretations of me, as in "I’m Not There": Andrew Scott, Ben Whishaw, Dane Dehaan, Richard Ayoade, Ian Mckellen, and Greta Gerwig. It would be stuck in development and currently untitled.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall or The Rite of Spring or the Moscow Art Theatre’s Uncle Vanya.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: The high fantasy novels of Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A photographer, a young adult novelist, or the Chief of Staff.

What’s up next?: After Mary, I’ll be directing Snore by Max Posner at Julliard. It’s the opposite of this and also wonderful.

For more on Knud, visit For more of An Intimate Evening With Typhoid Mary, visit

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