A THEATRE artist who cut his teeth doing “crazy shows” in Canberra was presented with the Helen Tsongas Award for excellence in acting at the ACT Arts Awards on Tuesday night.
Jim Adamik was singled out by the Canberra Critics Circle for an exceptional year of acting.
He has long been identified in these pages as the funniest man in Canberra, but with a great love of the works of Anton Chekhov, he believes you can only understand tragedy if you can laugh, and prefers to be taken seriously. This has definitely been his year in that respect.
Early in the judging year Adamik played a modern-day repellent, self-centred and aggressive sadist in Yasmina Reza’s play “God Of Carnage” at The Q, then this year he landed the plum role of envious musician Antonio Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus” at Canberra Rep, combining an impressive stillness with thunderous outpourings of emotion, one critic said.
Salieri is just one of many roles he has played as he meticulously developed his craft over a long time. He is certainly unique among Canberra actors in having once won a Canberra Critics’ Circle award for playing Daddy Bear in “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”.
Born in Sydney, he came here as a toddler, so considers himself a Canberra boy, through and through.
It was when he went to Narrabundah College that he discovered his love for theatre, under drama teachers Ernie Glass and Peter Wilkins and did “crazy shows” there, including “The Rocky Horror Ubu Show”.
He soon headed for a degree in drama at the ANU with Geoff Borny and Tony Turner, and also acted in Pirandello’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author”, directed by Carol Woodrow for Rep and “The Duchess of Malfi”, with the late David Branson.
Early in his time on stage he met and acted with the late Helen Tsongas, who advised him to apply for a job at ArtsACT, where she worked. He bought his first ever suit for the occasion, got the job and stayed for a few years before transferring to the Federal Department of Communications and the Arts, where he works as a policy officer.
“Being recognised with the Helen Tsongas award is very significant for me,” Adamik says, “She was my friend. We were both in production week for Moliere’s ‘The Imaginary Invalid’ when she and Pete were taken from us.”
The late Helen Tsongas, who would have been 45 in November this year, was a dramatic actor memorable for tragic roles who was greatly admired for her finely-tuned roles in comedy. She worked at ArtsACT for many years and then moved to the then Commonwealth Office for the Arts.
She died with her husband in a motorcycle accident shortly after their marriage 12 years ago and her family established this annual award in her memory. It takes the form of a $1000 cheque and a certificate going to the Canberra actor of the year, with no restrictions on age or gender, as judged by the theatre panel of the Canberra Critics Circle.
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