In Part 4 of a series of interviews with Greenbelt Arts Center’s Dinner With Friends, meet Jim Adams.
Joel: Please tell our readers where they may have seen your work on our local stages. Who did you play in these productions?
Jim: 2016 marks my 20th Anniversary appearing on regional theater stages, where I’ve appeared in more than 30 productions around the region. I spent 2015 playing the same character in two different shows at Greenbelt Arts Center (GAC) – Clybourne Park and Raisin in the Sun, as the racist Karl Lindner – an unpleasant challenge inhabiting such an unpleasant man for so long. Other recent performances have included Brian in Avenue Q (GAC, 2013); Todd, the Scottish Hitman in Unnecessary Farce (Prince George’s Little Theatre, 2012); and David in Company (St. George’s Players, 2011).
What made you want to be a cast member of Dinner With Friends?
I had such a good experience with Bob Kleinberg in Clybourne Park — I know he’s a solid director, who’s very attuned to his actors. He gets them to draw from within themselves very richly developed characters. The script explores in detail very real issues in relationships and communication styles, and the traps friends and loved ones can fall into when different needs and problems aren’t addressed.
What is the show about from the point of view of your character?
From Gabe’s perspective, I think the show is about loss, and the struggle to maintain a hold of what remains when it’s threatened. There are a lot of issues around trust and betrayal, as well.
How do you relate to your character? What traits that you possess do you see in your character and what traits that your character has-do you wish you possessed?
We’re both generally affable, with self-depreciating senses of humor. I was a lot like Gabe when I was first married – able to talk about any number of subjects, but when it came to anything personal or intimate, we were both emotionally pretty tightly shut emotionally, preferring to let more dominant personalities lead the way. I’ve been fortunate enough to have grown past that as I’ve aged… facing difficult subjects with people I love head-on before they become overwhelming. I’ve been married 22 years now to my lovely wife, Laura, so I figure we must be doing something right. As for what he has that I’d like? A house in Connecticut and the ability to spend summer-long vacations at a second house in Martha’s Vineyard would be a really nice start.
How can audiences relate to the messages and themes and characters in the show?
I think certain themes from the perspective of both couples and from the individual characters will strongly resonate for most anyone who has ever been in a long-term committed relationship, or has had the misfortune to have/see one disintegrate.
What challenges have you had learning and molding your performance? How did your director Bob Kleinberg help you to fine-tune your performance?
It’s a very wordy play, extremely conversational with many sentence fragments, half-sentences and interruptions, punctuated by the occasional short monologue. With such a small cast, we all had a lot of lines to learn. Bob had the foresight to schedule an extra 2 weeks of rehearsals than a conventional show, to give us all some extra time to digest the characters and get the lines down fairly solidly. He also works hard with the cast to get the actors to really inhabit the characters.
What have you learned about yourself-the actor-while going through the audition and rehearsal process?
I’m typically more comfortable in musicals or farces, which usually come pretty easily to me — I’m usually the villain or the bumbling everyman/buddy. Gabe’s not that far away from the bumbling everyman archetype. My wife and some of my friends say they prefer me in dramas, because I have to work harder, and consequently turn out a superior performance. I certainly agree I have to work harder. This has been a difficult and rewarding show, because it deals with a lot of tough, realistic problems that people frequently face themselves.
If you could write another ending for your character, what would it be?
I wish Gabe would learn that being so passive (or passive aggressive) with his feelings isn’t doing him any favors. Even if the feelings are negative, he needs to be able to express them to connect better with the people he cares about.
What’s next for you on the stage?
Nothing currently locked in, but I have my eye on two shows for which I’m planning to audition in the next 2-3 months. Fingers crossed!
What do you want the audience to take with them after seeing Dinner With Friends?
Talk to your loved ones. Listen to each other. Make sure people have their needs met, including your own. If they’re not, learn to have those hard conversations before the issues become insurmountable.
Meet the Cast of ‘Dinner with Friends’ at Greenbelt Arts Center: Part 1: Director Bob Kleinberg by Joel Markowitz.
Meet the Cast of ‘Dinner with Friends’ at Greenbelt Arts Center: Part 2: Jenna Jones Paradis by Joel Markowitz.
Meet the Cast of ‘Dinner With Friends’ at Greenbelt Arts Center: Part 3: Michelle Johncock by Joel Markowitz.
Meet the Cast of ‘Dinner With Friends’ at Greenbelt Arts Center: Part 4: Jim Adams by Joel Markowitz.