Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Spotlight On...Adam Knight

Name: Adam Knight

Hometown: Greenville, South Carolina

Education: University of Evansville (Indiana)

Favorite Credits: Naperville by Mat Smart (Slant, 2014), Exit Carolyn by Jennie Berman Eng (Sans A, 2011), and Beef by Lawrence Dial (Slant, 2008)

Why theater?: I was overseas and was asked this question at a dinner party where I was the only American. I put on my Sam Shepard face and said, “Because it’s the best damned thing there is.” I stand by that answer.

Tell us about In The Room: A teacher once told me, “Your problems in life are your problems in art.” I think that’s what Lawrence Dial is getting at in his play. In the Room finds seven disparate characters in a playwriting workshop. The classroom takes on a life of its own, as alliances are formed and broken, and each writer confronts his or her “unresolved issue.” How do you close that door once it’s been opened?... Also the play touches on a larger thing happening in NYC theatre. How the business of theatre is in conflict with economics and just the strain of the city. What does it say about our art that more people are interested in paying to LEARN the craft than to SEE the craft?

What inspired you to direct In the Room?: I’ve known Larry for a long time and have directed three of his plays. We often meet up and he’ll hand me a stack of pages and a glass of wine and go from there. This play was one of those stacks, and the more we talked about it, the more we realized it needed to be staged. Also it hearkens back to an earlier period of Slant Theatre Project’s history where we’d stage plays in comedy clubs or the hulls of ships, anywhere but a theatre. We’re doing this play in a rehearsal room – which is where the play would actually take place – allowing the audience to experience the piece from an intimate vantage point.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: A great traditional production of Nöel Coward can speak to me as much as something utterly insane and experimental at BAM. The main thing for me is that it needs to feel PRESENT. Why this play, why now? If the artists have answered that question for themselves, the audience is sure to follow… I try to go see a lot of art beyond just theatre. I go to the opera and to museums and particularly love the symphony. When I’m inspired by a piece of music or a painting, my way of viewing the world blossoms out, which in turn deepens my own art.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Athol Fugard’s work continues to resonate beyond the very specific world his writing inhabits. And as a director of his own work, he’s able to cull enormous meaning out of simple actions such as painting a rock or digging a trench. I’d love to be a fly on the wall and watch him work.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I was over the moon recently about Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morisseau, The Body of an American by Dan O’Brien, and Together We Are Making a Poem in Honor of Life by Dean Poynor. I pitch them to every artistic director I know.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I’ve always thought it was so sad that Mozart was something of a secondary character in the movie “Amadeus.” And then F. Murray Abraham wins the Academy Award! Wouldn’t that be terrifying? If, in the movie of MY life, the person playing my RIVAL wins the Oscar!?

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Probably Daniel Cromer’s production of Our Town or Mark Rylance in Boeing-Boeing. I was living in the city at the time so have no excuse. It’s like heroes who’ve died – you keep thinking you’ve got another chance to see them, then they’re gone.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Esoteric studies. I’m in a Russian history phase at the moment, reading all about the Romanovs. Up next is Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Past junkets include Greek vases and Chinese poetry. None of these have anything to do with my work or life, and that’s why I love them.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A professional bookkeeper. (That’s a common answer, right?) I like working with numbers and with accounting. In fact, it’s what I do as my day job. It’s a job which holds enormous trust, and there’s also an elegance to it. At the end of the day it all just has to balance. I like that.

What’s up next?: I’m producing a world premiere in NYC next April by an acclaimed international writer… but that’s all I can say right now! Stay tuned.

For more on In the Room, visit