PCS Blog

Adam Bock at PCS

Posted by Allyson Walters | 29 September 2014

PCS has enjoyed a long and celebrated relationship with playwright Adam Bock, going back nearly 10 years when he was first featured at JAW in 2005. 

On the eve of 
his 7th collaboration at PCS - with The Typographer's Dream in the Ellyn Bye Studio - we decided to offer a round up of all the projects we've undertaken with this playwright. From Obie-winning plays, to world premieres, Drammy awards and critical acclaim, here's a look at the history of Adam Bock at PCS:


Adam Bock.

2005: The Thugs at JAW

Selected from over 200 scripts to be presented at JAW, Adam Bock’s tale of tedium and terror in a law firm marked his debut with PCS. The script later earned Bock an Obie Award. Rose Riordan directed the staged reading at JAW, marking the beginning of a fruitful collaboration between Rose and Adam.

In a later playbill, Rose recalled her initial reaction to Adam’s writing:

"I read The Thugs by Adam Bock and was struck by his ability to capture the way people talk. Sounds easy enough but is, in fact, incredibly difficult to master. This insight into language creates a sound for a character, a way of thinking and a blueprint for behavior. The way into an Adam Bock play is through the dialogue. It is musical, mysterious and one non sequitur after another that leads us through the story in a unique, Adam Bock kind of way. I had the great fortune to actually workshop The Thugs with Adam for JAW: A Playwrights Festival and this experience confirmed for me the relevance of his work and his innate understanding of human behavior."

2007: The Official World Premiere of The Thugs

In 2007, The Thugs had its world premiere in the Ellyn Bye Studio, winning four Drammy Awards. Prior to the opening, PCS dramaturge Mead Hunter sat down with Adam to discuss re-emerging themes in his work.

Adam: I am fascinated by the moment when people wake up and notice things that have been sitting in front of them forever. Unseen love. Heartbreaking impossibility. An unfulfilled need to talk back. The moment we awaken to the reality of our lives – which I think we do over and over throughout our lives – is shocking and unnerving and scary and exhilarating. How do we cope with that moment, which can impact the rest of our lives? Do we deny it and fight to remain asleep? Who do we go to for help? Can we even voice it?

The temps at the law firm of Tedium and Terror: Sharonlee McLean (Mercedes), Val Landrum (Daphne) and Kelsey Tyler (Bart) in The Thugs, 2007. Photo by Owen Carey.

2010: The Receptionist

Adam's "poisoned Post-it note of a play" (The New York Times) was initially staged at CoHo Productions in 2008 and then remounted at PCS in the Ellyn Bye Studio. The Oregonian called this dark office comedy "must-see theater."

Sharonlee McLean (Beverly) and Laura Faye Smith (Lorraine) in The Receptionist, 2010.
Photo by Owen Carey.

2012: San Diego at JAW and a New Play Commission

Adam was back in Portland for the JAW Festival in 2012, this time to develop San Diego, a comedy of sorts set on a San Diego pier about a reluctant mother and her friends. That same year, PCS announced a new program for play development and awarded Adam a two-year commission to write a new script.

Rose Riordan and Adam Bock at a reading during JAW, 2012.

2014: A Small Fire on the U.S. Bank Main Stage

"This lean, spare drama explores the nature of life, love, and human connection — big subjects indeed,” said The Oregonian of A Small Fire when it was presented at PCS last season. The play marked Adam Bock's U.S. Bank Main Stage debut at PCS.

Check out Oregon ArtsWatch's interview with Adam.


The Bridges Family: Emily (Peggy J. Scott), Jenny (Hollye Gilbert) and John (Tom Bloom) in A Small Fire. Photo by Patrick Weishampel.

2014: A Life

This past summer, Bock was back at PCS to workshop his new play, A Life, during the 2014 JAW festival.

In an interview with The Portland Mercury, Bock said, "it's a meditation on life. How do we understand our own lives? How do you know when you're doing the right thing with your life, or if you're spending time on something that may not be important? When you're faced directly with death, how does your life come into sharper focus?"

A Life was commissioned by PCS and Perkins Coie's “Creative Minds” program. The staged reading stared Danny Wolohan, .



Adam Bock (left) with Danny Wolohan (right) during a break at JAW 2014. 

Fall 2014 : The Typographer's Dream

For our 2014-2015 Ellyn Bye Studio season opener, we are producing The Typographer's Dream - one of Adam's personal favorites. Like The Receptionist and The Thugs, this play explores the world of work, this time asking the question, "Are we defined by our work?" 

Local performers Kelsey Tyler, Laura Faye Smith and Sharonlee McLean return once again to tackle this Bock script, with Rose Riordan directing and acting as costume designer.



Read more about The Typographer's Dream.


We’d love to hear your thoughts on the show! Find us on Facebook and Twitter: #pcs_Typographer




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