Eve Adamson, Founder of the Jean Cocteau Rep, Is Dead at 67

Obituaries   Eve Adamson, Founder of the Jean Cocteau Rep, Is Dead at 67
Eve Adamson, the founder of the Jean Cocteau Rep, which served up international classics from a small stage on the Bowery for more than three decades, died Oct. 9. She was 67.
Tennessee Williams and Eve Adamson
Tennessee Williams and Eve Adamson

At the time of her death, Ms. Adamson was preparing to begin rehearsals for a new production of Anouilh's Antigone at the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble. The Phoenix was formed by five former ensemble members of the Cocteau, including mainstays Craig Smith and Elise Stone. She also directed the company's premiere production, The Trial, in 2004.

Eve Adamson founded Jean Cocteau Repertory in 1971. It's first location was on Bond Street off the Bowery—then a dangerous neighborhood unpopulated by theatres. The troupe later moved to its familiar Bowery home inside the landmarked cast-iron French Second Empire building that was once the home of the German Exchange Bank. Here she and her non-Equity ensemble presented a steady diet of classic plays year in and year out. Production values were low, but so were ticket prices, and audiences were attracted by the fine acting of seasoned regulars like Smith, Stone, Harris Berlinsky, Angela Vitale and Joe Menino.

Her initial vision involved a rotating repertory of time-honored plays performed by a permanent ensemble—an anomaly in New York theatre, where both the repertory system and permanent acting corps are unusual. The audition process at the Cocteau was arduous. Candidates were asked to perform a psalm from the Bible, a movement mime piece and a cross-gender Shakespeare passage, among other things. When accepted into the ensemble, they were required to take on parts both large and small, as well as sell tickets, do publicity and clean out the "moat," a cement gully that surrounded the theatre on two sides and constantly filled up with garbage.

Ms. Adamson remained artistic director until 1989. She directed more than 100 productions, including everything from Chekhov and Ibsen to Pinter and Shakespeare.

Interested in international cultural exchange, she traveled to Europe, the former USSR, South America, and Asia as a U.S. theatre representative. She directed in Russia and Korea and hosted residencies of theatre artists from Russia, Poland, Denmark, and England. She was a co-founder of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York and served for twelve years on its board of directors. Eve Adamson was born on Oct. 30, 1938. She is survived by a brother, Lloyd Christopher of California.

A funeral service will be held at 7 PM on Oct. 13 at Middle Collegiate Church on Second Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets.

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