I didn’t know very much about Adam Stoner ’11 before I interviewed him so I decided to meet him where he’s most in his element. This place turned out to be the Spencer Art Studio, which is very far away indeed, especially if you’re sprinting there with a bag of books on your back while trying to check the Daily Messages on your phone and not spill your coffee. A message from Adam Stoner popped into my inbox: “Can we meet a bit later? I reeaalllly need to shower! For real, it’s for the best.” I wondered vaguely why he had to shower so badly, and then assumed that he must be an athlete who had morning practice or something.
So you had a sports practice this morning?
No … heck no. I don’t do any sports. At all. It was just very necessary to take a shower.
Why was the shower so pressing?
I hadn’t showered in days. It’s kind of a nonstop week for me with Judas Iscariot coming up like mad fast. I’m TD [technical director] for Cap & Bells, which means I’m in charge of making sure nothing catches on fire in the stage sets or something. I build stuff for the sets. Technician kind of crap. It’s definitely a job and a half.
So do you get to build the sets by hand, with … saws?
I do. And the set for Judas in particular is a couple of platforms and then we’ve got like a 15-foot arch that we’re building over the next week [he laughs a little hysterically]. It’s sort of faux stone and based on the Brooklyn Bridge. I don’t know how that’s going to turn out.
What’s your favorite machine, your favorite tool?
[Laughing] My favorite tool, that’s a tricky one. There’s a woodshop on the first level in the theatre. It has anything that you need to cut wood with in any certain way. And then also stuff to weld with. And a chop saw. But I’d say my favorite thing to use is the radio arm saw. It’s really nice. And I never had one in my high school theater, which was like a tuna can.
One of the few things I know about you is that you have a Sweeney Todd barber chair in your common room. Was that something you built in the shop?
Ahh … about that. Freshman year, young and impressionable me, was like, “Absolutely, I’d love to set design and light the spring musical.” Worst idea ever. It was way too much work and it was for the big deal musical, so I had a lot of pressure. And I had this friend who for some reason really, really wanted to build the Sweeney Todd chair. So we got a recliner, a big fuzzy recliner.
Where did you get this wonderful big fuzzy recliner?
This place in North Adams, an antique shop/junk shop. She traveled there. I did not go. I didn’t know how this was going to happen and I was afraid that nothing was going to get done for my show. I was probably painting something somewhere just like fretting and crying. She brings back this recliner and dissembled the whole thing into a metal armature. Got a bunch of plywood, cut out these beautiful armrests on the back of the chair, covered it in red leather, studded it with upholstery tacks. And now it’s gorgeous! I didn’t want to get rid of it, so it just sits in my common room – for the past three years. It’s just hanging out.
Do people sit in it?
I mean not really. I don’t blame them. It’s kind of uncomfortable. And kind of dangerous. You lean forward, and you fall out. I usually acquire random things that I want after plays. There was a hammock chair in my last play, and I wanted it, so that’s in my common room now too. Freshman year I brought home Astroturf. So the entire floor of the “man” common room (the one that was decorated with football stuff) had Astroturf on the floor.
I really want to see this common room now. You said you act in the plays too. Can you think of a particularly memorable play you’ve been?
A one act called Faith Healer, last year. Really shouldn’t have been a one-act because it was like two and half hours. There were only three of us acting in it. In the whole play there’s four monologues. I had to memorize 15 pages of straight lines. It was nuts. Thankfully, my memory is pretty good when it comes to lines.
Wow. I can’t imagine memorizing all of those lines. How do you do it?
When I was in high school, my dad and I had a ping-pong table in the garage. And I would play ping-pong while I said my lines. Doing something kinesthetic kind of helps me. Or just reading the play a lot just gets it into my bones. I could probably recite all of Romeo and Juliet to you right now.
Do you prefer to play the villain or the hero? Or the random dude?
I get stuck in male ingénue roles all the time, so I’m always the pretty young lover and I love deviating from that in any way that I possibly can. I’m always pining and mourning. It gets boring after a while. But I guess it’s okay, since they’re usually big parts.
Have you ever succeeded in nabbing the role of a villain?
Not like a straight up villain, but various levels of not-so-nice people. I don’t think I could pull off a villain honestly. It would just not compute with me.
Does long hair compute with you?
Well … I was recently in King John, and all the men who could had to grow facial hair until the play went up right before exams. So it was like 11 weeks of facial hair growth and I just looked so gnarly and gross. I could ponytail it.
Did you have to put your hair and facial hair into hairdos? I mean, I know Dumbledore has this weird little beard tie.
No, mine was just hanging down because it was just the Middle Ages. But if you have enough down there I could conceivably see why you would do it. Stylish. If you’re Dumbledore. I don’t think I could pull it off.
Might go with the clothes you’re wearing right now. Would you say you’re rocking your typical style right now?
Yeah, this is my style, except the shirt is cleaner and it has no paint on it. And the pants are a little on the low-rip side. And people think I love to wear flip-flops. But it’s just because I’m always late or something. It’s also because I’m from North Carolina and I have no sense about what’s cold and what’s not cold.
Are you one of those people who doesn’t wear a jacket even when it’s 20 degrees out?
I live in Gladden, and I usually just have to run to the theater. So I’ll go outside without a jacket and I’ll inevitably see someone I know on the way and they’ll yell at me like, “What are you stupid hick from North Carolina doing out here without a jacket and without shoes?” And I’ll be like, “I promise, I’m just going five feet.”
Would you consider yourself from the South?
Yes, although I grew up in Pennsylvania so I don’t have an accent.
Pronounce a really funny southern word for me.
“Oh A’m just pickin’.” That phrase just drives me nuts. Southern women will say it instead of “I’m just messing with you.” So gross. “A’m just pickin’. Can ah borrow a pen?”
Has anyone ever made any terrible jokes about your name … Stoner?
That’s definitely a sarcastic “never.”
Maybe. I’d say that 50 percent of my friends, no more than that, just call me Stoner. Which is fine. Most people when they see me will yell “Stoner!” Probably the good part about it is that I don’t read it as anything other than my name and a funny joke. So it’s two good things.
So Stoner, after college, do you want to continue your artsy-ness and be some kind of professional artist?
I’ll never stop making art no matter what I do. I don’t know if I’ll become a full-blown conceptual artist, or if I’ll work in a theater. Or I’ll start feeling guilty about something and join some humanitarian aid somewhere. I don’t know if the path you choose necessarily dictates any moral strength or anything. I’m not sure if there’s a right choice or a wrong choice. There’re just choices, and I should be good at one of them at least, hopefully.