Eve Adamson

Founder of Jean Cocteau Repertory

Eve Adamson, who founded New York’s Jean Cocteau Repertory classical theater company, died Oct. 7 in Manhattan. She was 68.

Adamson started the ensemble in 1971 in a converted storefront in the East Village after becoming frustrated with the acting roles she was offered. The company began its first season of rotating repertory in 1973, performing four plays, including Eugene Ionesco’s “Lesson,” and Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.”

After receiving a grant from New York State, the company moved into the 140-seat Bouwerie Lane Theater in 1974 and became a staple of the burgeoning Off Off Broadway theater scene. Adamson was artistic director for 18 years, and the company presented works by Pinter and Pirandello alongside Restoration comedies, Chekhov dramas and Shakespeare standards.

Under her direction, the Cocteau presented Tennessee William’s “Something Cloudy, Something Clear” in 1981; it was the last play by Williams to have its premiere in New York during his lifetime.

After stepping down as artistic director in 1989, she directed plays nationally and in Europe. She continued to stage plays at the Cocteau, and when a group of Cocteau veterans broke off in 2004 and formed their own company, the Phoenix Theater Ensemble, Adamson directed their first production.

Born in Beverly Hills, Calif., her father was Harold Adamson, a lyricist who helped write songs for movies like “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “An Affair to Remember.”

She is survived by a brother.

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