The Interview Project: T. Adamson

Interview by Will Arbery
April 2, 2020

"Making new friends during quarantine. Photo and haircut by Jeesun Choi. #tigerking" —T. Adamson

What fills your days? 

One thing I’m working on is becoming a better cook. It’s one of those things I always meant to do but I’ve tended to side-line in the past. So I’m doing a lot of searing and sautéing right now and trying new recipes. Depending on how long I’m Sheltering-in-Place, I might even work up the courage to bake.

I’m reading some long dull books that were gathering dust on my shelf (shout out to Thomas Malory).

And another thing I’m doing is learning more about my neighborhood. I’m taking a lot more walks in the same small radius so I’ve started interneting the buildings in my area to find out if they have any notable history; or if a small park or etc. is named after someone, I’ll try to figure out who that person was and how they managed to swing that (Life Goals: T. Adamson Park). I think it makes being stuck in this small zone feel richer and wholer and more alive. It makes me feel like I can stay in my area because I actually still have so much to discover right here in front of me.

What is your relationship to work during crisis?

I’m writing a little every day, with the emphasis on little, and I’m working on projects that I enjoy the process of making rather than saying to myself something like: “And now I must write the Great Quarantine Play of Our Times.” I typically tend to put unhelpful pressures on myself so I’m trying to be kind to my inner writer these days. But it does help to do something daily to remind myself that I’m a creative human being, whether that’s creating a collage or making a marinade or moving a few words around on a page. I think creativity helps us see beyond our current circumstances so now is a good time to nurture creativity, or at least so it seems from my end.

What or who is inspiring you right now? What or who is beautiful? 

It’s cliché but true: everyone in my life, my family and friends, are inspiring me right now. People are sacrificing and making difficult decisions to protect other people and it’s beautiful that so many people throughout the world are choosing to think of others rather than themselves in this moment. The work of people in the front lines of this crisis is inspiring and they deserve more than nightly cheers; they deserve proper protection and compensation. Though the cheers are nice.

For artistic inspiration, I’ve been listening to Cecil Taylor on my nightly walks. He’s an incredible improvisatory pianist and jazz pioneer/legend. I particularly love his solo concert recordings Silent Tongues and For Olim. His work is dizzying and overwhelming, challenging yet intimate. I think I’m pouring over his solo work right now because it reminds me that even in our solitude we each contain a whole universe worth exploring. And I’m listening to a lot of other records I find spiritually fulfilling.

What are you dreaming of making, once we can gather in rooms again?

Wow I guess something where a bunch of people stand really close together or go bobbing for apples or something?? If anyone wants to program Bobbing for Apples in 2021, hit me up.

What would you say to your younger self — the one without many connections in theater, the one without a Playwrights Horizons commission — if your younger self were confronting or considering a future as an artist during this time of tremendous uncertainty?

Well I don’t have to go too far back in time to speak to that younger self, but I would say: “All times are times of uncertainty and it’s only in retrospect that outcomes seem certain. Uncertainty doesn’t need to hinder art-making; in my experience uncertainty is the path.” And I’d add: “We always need art and we always need young art by young artists. Don’t limit yourself thinking about what kind of artist you are; allow yourself to become that kind of artist which has never before existed. Explore the ideas and the projects that are the most difficult to characterize and the most joyful to realize. And, most importantly, seek out people whose work and whose way of working excites you and tell them you admire them and be kind to them and nourish them and invite them into your fold and make things, even stupid things, even intangible things, with them. Even if you have to work over Zoom.” And I’d also maybe tell him to learn about computer programming or etc. so he can make some supplemental income. <3


T. Adamson is the recipient of a Jody Falco and Jeffrey Steinman Commission for Emerging Playwrights.