My name is Jennifer Adams, and I am a theatre-o-holic. A Lifer. I started doing theatre when I was five, and when as a 2nd grader I got the role of the narrator in The Little Red Hen because I liked to talk, and improvised during the performance to great acclaim when a kid forgot his lines, I was hooked for life. My whole life growing up revolved around theatre, and it is only now, in my mid-and-growing thirties that I have something in my life that means as much to me as theatre always has. I live a life full of learning to balance, sometimes by taking wicked dives and getting the hugest bumps and scrapes that life can give...
I was born in Kittery, Maine., in a hospital that straddles state lines, but we moved around New England every year or two growing up. Every place was different, and I feel like it really helped shape who I am and how I see the world.
Kittery was pretty diverse. I lived there as a youngun, and my best friends were from a very traditional Greek family and an interracial family being raised by a single vegan mom... The friend from the latter family went on to compete in the Winter Olympics one year, skiing for the Virgin Islands.
My great-grandmother's house was in rural Eliot, Maine. It was a gorgeous farmhouse that someday I would love to buy.
Hamlet Green in Windsor, Ct., was a 3-mile long apartment complex that was 75% african-american. We lived next door to a family from africa and down the street from a gay couple, both of whom were good friends of the family and babysat me often. Then I moved to Concord, NH., which was rich and snobby and I never fit in. I did get to be in a musical called No, No, A Million Times No, where I played the femme fatale that sang "I am a flame around which moths will flutter. Men are my game, their daily lives I clutter." As a 6th grader. I knocked it out of the park. Yes I did.
In 7th grade, we moved to Steep Falls Village, Me. We had a house on a dead end street, and through the woods behind my house were the railroad tracks that led to the Corner Store that all the "Bad" teenagers hung out at. I could walk a mile to the river and sit there for hours.
My mom stayed home with us growing up. Now that I stay home with my kids I appreciate her more and more every day. My strongest images of her are playing the piano, both alone and while my sister and I sang, and dancing beside me in the modern dance troupe we were part of.
My strongest image of my dad is of him running past our house in 100 degree weather after a 6 or 8 mile run. He would run when it was toughest to run and would push himself harder because of it.
I have one sister who is 6 years younger than me. She is opposite from me in every way and we have never had a fight. She has a baby girl that is 6 weeks younger than my daughter, but because she lives in Maine I don't get to see them much. I hate that.
I played the flute and guitar, and did theatre and sang all through high school. Everyone thought I was easy, but the truth was I was scared of boys. Sometimes I "had rehearsal" so I wouldn't have to go to a party and play Spin the Bottle.
The community theatre in the next town changed my life, but also made me choose more often then I should have had to as a high schooler. It kept me out of trouble, and taught me about loving theatre and working your butt off for theatre. It taught me how valuable it can be to do theatre with your family and how sometimes your theatre friends ARE your family. I had the opportunity through that theatre to do a show for 2.5 years that toured schools teaching kids about ecology and taking care of our earth. It was one of the best things I have ever done. It also taught me that your life and theatre extend WAY beyond high school. If you have to choose between family and theatre you should choose family every time. Don't be afraid to make a choice that is going to make someone else angry, and if you get fired from a show (or are told you must choose between two because they share a week of rehearsal time) when you are 16, your life is not over. And if you have an opportunity to make out in the dance room, take it!
I spent six-ish years in college studying theatre, graduated and spent a year touring children's theatre up and down the East Coast and all throughout the Gulf region and Texas. It was pretty incredible to see that much of the country. It taught me that our school systems are horribly unequal, women with black hair should NEVER wear blond wigs, you should never do Alice in Wonderland THAT hung over, and that everyone in this country should be learning to speak Spanish. It can only make you a BETTER person.
Then I moved to Chicago. I worked at O'Donovan's Restaurant for 3.5 years as a bartender and waitress. I learned how it felt to be sexy and confident. I then worked at a religious institution for 7.5 years. I learned a lot about how real offices are NOT run; I learned Excel; I started as a receptionist, became Assistant to the Executive Director, Facilities Coordinator, Event Planner, learned how to do layout on a bulletin, send weekly emails and maintain the website, and in the end was forced to sit back at the Receptionist Desk because it was important to have a friendly face there, and when I quit they did not make anyone else move down there. I worked directly under 3 consecutive Executive Directors, 3 consecutive Membership Directors, and indirectly under 3 consecutive Directors of Development. I left there to concentrate on Halcyon and stay home with the kids. And to stop my head from spinning.
I founded 2 theatre companies here in Chicago, including Halcyon. The first was devoted to the artists, and making sure the artists had a great process. It was a very noble goal for a small and specific group, but looking back I feel like we left a very important part, the audience, out of the equation. I am infinitely proud that with Halcyon, I am learning to take the time to really learn who our audience is and what our audience receives from seeing what we do. I hope that will make our process with artists better as well, and I believe it helps us use theatre to make the world a better place as opposed to making one process a better place.
I have an amazing husband (who you have met or will meet), who was VERY worth the wait, and we have 2 beautiful and high-energy children under age 4 who remind us every day why we must continue to do what we love.
My life is...continuously...VERY hard to balance. Physical balance always came easy to me. With this kind of balance I always feel like I'm on the long side of the learning curve. I was told in high school that I was a Theatre Girl... a Lifer. Almost every memory I have growing up involves theatre, dance, or music. My sign is Cancer which makes me a nurturer and a natural mother. I started wanting kids when I was 28, and it was the first thing I blurted out when Tony asked me what I wanted one night when we were dating. I wouldn't give either up, nor would I give up being a wife... but I am learning to look as far into the future as I can see into the past in order to see how the balancing scales will even out. It's hard, but when I look back at my life at age 90, I want my children's children to know who I REALLY was. All 360 degrees. Not just a sliver of the pie.