Thought Residency: Adam Lazarus

Thought Residency: Adam Lazarus


I remember pennies being thrown at me.  Pick ‘em up Jew boy. 

I remember a teacher telling us, in shame, that her grandfather prided himself on his ashtray made of Jew bones.

I remember weeping at Yad Vashem – every time I’ve been.

I remember feeling at home as a socialist in Israel – every time I’ve been.

When I was five, I rememer I was at school playing in the sandbox and this boy told me he was glad Hitler killed all the Jews.  I shoved his head into the sand and held it there until a teacher pulled me off. We were both suspended.

I remember learning to remember.


In early November 2016, I went to a psychic healer. I remember ranting about time and my lack of it. The healer challenged me to split time in half: As many times as I wanted. Stretch it out. If you want, a day can be an eternity.

Remember when you could do that as a child?

Mid-August 2017, here I am at the just-past-halfway point in my thought residency, and I’m thinking about time again. Trying to slow it down. Feeling like I’m on the other side of things in life.

What do I want to devote the next 3 to 5 to 35 years of my life doing? How can I spend more time with my family, my friends, myself?

How can I find time to split time?


Today, I’m a worried husband, father, friend, Jew, artist, human, and I’m thinking about the monster.

My monster is filled with hate and vengeance. He’s mean.

He’s not obviously violent. Doesn’t throw punches or light fires.

Instead, my monster is devious and finds subversively violent ways to ruin lives, destroy families, and end friendships.

My monster works to make people feel bad. Make them suffer, mentally.

The monster is not positive, but he lives with me


Today my Uber driver did up my window and put on the air conditioning without asking.

I felt like my kids must feel.

In school, my acrobatics teacher would give us a rest and then say: ‘and every good moment ends’.

From early childhood I’ve been conditioned to accept fun and joy being given, and then taken away with little to no warning. “Shut off the TV now. Bath time’s over. Play time’s over. Five minutes and we’re going home.”

I’ve been in training for submission.

What a difficult thing to master.


Today I don’t want to work but I’m going to.

Today my body is asking for a break. I’m sweaty. I’m drowsy. My eyes are burning. My mind wants a break. I want to shower, putz around my house and then maybe take a bath. I want to feel bad for myself.

I was told that it’s probably the weather.

Today I feel bad for feeling bad for myself. I’m lazy. I should suck it up, take a pill, go for a walk, get back to work.

And so, I do.

Oh the disgrace of sadness! The weakness of fear.


Examination can be the great killer of experience.

But I will try.

I don’t know why I make or say or do at least 15% of my life.

This part of myself doesn’t ask why. Doesn’t analyse – my instincts, actions, emotions, desires, or how I can be bull-headed, grumpy, and flippant.

It is this 15% of myself that is in constant chaos, that keeps me curious and questioning everything.

It is my friend who invites failure and says that change is possible.


J’adore la langue française, et je ne parle pas très bien le français parce que mon grammer est terrible, mais je comprends plus.

My French is terrible but I pretend that I’m very good at speaking it.

When I’m in a French speaking place, I try to watch and listen. I talk to myself, out loud, a lot. I plan a few key phrases and then I engage as though I understand and when I don’t I ask: Qu’est-ce que c’est le mot (insert a French word they just said) en anglais?

It sometimes works.

It sometimes doesn’t.

Et, c’est tout.


At 27, some friends and I took a trip and drove the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island. A number of times I got stuck behind cars moving way too slowly, and every time, it stressed me out. Only me. Then at some point my friend Vlad – a circus artist from Los Angeles – set me right when he said: ‘Hey now. Where are you going?’

I am quick to impatience, I bore easily and I can be unforgiving while I’m waiting for progress in other people.

I’m consistently checking that.


I’m thinking a lot about literacy lately:

One – I read the final 300 pages of Hanya Yanigahara’s A Little Life, through a steady stream of tears and thought: at this rate, I will die having read only 100 books in my adult life.  That is tragic and unacceptable.

Two – I turned 40, and started training for a 15-mile obstacle course race. This kind of work is very new to me and very difficult. But I’m doing it.

Three – Every time I change. Every time. I feel embarrassment and regret



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About the Author

Adam Lazarus is an award winning actor, director and acting instructor whose work has been showcased nationally, in the USA and Europe. Hailed as "Toronto's favourite nasty clown" (Toronto Star), and "The Bouffon King" (NOW Magazine), Adam's collaborators are varied and vast as he brings a dark and comic sensibility to all of his work. He is a sessional instructor at The National Theatre School of Canada, Pig Iron Theatre's School for Performance, the Sibiu International Theatre Festival, and the University of Toronto. Adam was the artistic-director of the Toronto Festival of Clowns for 10 years and is a graduate of and former apprentice to Master Teacher Philippe Gaulier. In the fall of 2016, he launched PlayOn Theatre, a new theatre school with a focus on creation and performance. His latest work Daughter is currently touring nationally and abroad.