Mom, what about this?

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By Jennifer Wadsack

Los Alamos Little Theatre (LALT) fans may know her as a director-costumer-stage manager, while Los Alamos Light Opera-goers may know her as a performer.  However, Los Alamos native Mimi Adams unveils a new side to her theatrical talent: playwright.  “Endless Questions,” Adams’ first full-length one-act play, debuts this weekend on the LALT stage as the culmination of a workshop experience long in the making.  

It all began back in the summer of 2009 when Adams attended a playwriting class taught by Albuquerque playwright Mark Dunn and sponsored by LALT as part of its commitment to nonprofit community arts education.

The seminar taught playwriting basics and challenged participants to write a play. Adams said she was put “in the right place at the right time to be able to tell a story dramatically” — and lucky for Adams that she was in that place at that time when a potential story naturally occurred out of her own life experiences.

About a month after the LALT seminar, Adams was readying her 9-year-old son for bed, and as many children that age do, her son hammered away at her with a seemingly endless series of questions, as if he was trying to spend more time with his mother and delay falling sleep.

Enjoying this common nightly ritual, Adams said she was suddenly struck with an idea for a play.

From a director’s point of view, Adams said she is interested in scripts that deal with what she considers an underrepresented theme in theater: parent and “tween”-child relationships, in particular, mothers with sons aged 8-12.

Not only did Adams innately know the material, but she chose a subject matter to which any parent could easily relate: the endless barrage of sometimes mindless, sometimes life-probing questions every child asks. Other issues in the play are divorce and single-parenting, with which she and her son have struggled.  Adams’ father died when she was 6 years old and this formative experience also frames the play and imbues it with authenticity. Thus, part-therapy, part-life, part-inspiration, the plot was born.  

After the initial “lightning strike,” Adams allowed the play’s entire plot to germinate a week before she actually sat down and wrote for about 17 days straight.  

As she composed the play, she literally saw the movements performed and heard the lines spoken in her mind’s eye and ear by specific actors that she directed as mother and son in Santa Fe’s “The Yellow Boat.” Recent College of Santa Fe theater graduate Roxanne Tapia and Adams’s own son Sequoyah Adams-Rice play the mother  and son.  

After completing the first draft, Adams presented the play through a series of readings with friends and family. She listened to feedback and revised the play accordingly.  About 10 months later, Adams made a proposal to the LALT board of directors: she wanted to direct a  world-premiere staged reading of the script.  

The board jumped at the chance once again to provide a community arts-education experience: one that showcased the composition process engendered by one of its own workshops.

As its title implies, the play takes its structure from questions directed by son to mother.  Many of these questions Adams herself has answered to her own son and nephews.

While Adams drew many situations from her own life as a single mother with a son of the same age who has struggled with divorce and parental loss, the play is not really the story of Adams and her son.

 “It’s our relationship set into a fictional context,” Adams said.  The play chronicles the infinite love of a mother-son relationship in its last year.

Adams has previously directed such LALT productions as “The Boxcar Children“ and “Sarah, Plain and Tall.”   But directing her own play has at times been difficult because she is so close to the material, Adams said.  She credits cast and crew for giving  an objective perspective.  

Adams dedicates the play to friend Kathy Mason, a fellow single parent with a child the age of Adams’s own son.  Mason worked the spotlight for “The Yellow Boat,” and Adams’s friendship with her was largely based on their both being parents of sons the same age.  

Mason died a week after Adams completed the script’s first draft, so Mason’s memory will be intrinsically linked to the play’s themes of parental loss and mother-son                 interaction.

“Endless Questions” is a one-act play appropriate for adults and children aged 8 and older.

There is no inappropriate language or content, but there are mature themes in the play such divorce and the death of a parent.

The Los Alamos Little Theatre’s workshop production of “Endless Questions” plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday and at 3 p.m. Saturday at  the Performing Arts Center, 1670 Nectar St. Admission is free.  In the true spirit of a workshop production, note cards and pencils will be provided for those willing or interested in providing feedback to the playwright.