Esther Kang

Book signing in Manhattan Beach to honor author’s former student Adam Rice

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Adam Rice, circa 2013. Courtesy of the Rice family

Adam Rice, circa 2013. Courtesy of the Rice family

Author Theresa Robbins Dudeck will dedicate the book signing of her “Keith Johnstone: A Critical Biography” to the memory of Adam Rice, a Manhattan Beach native and former student of the author.

All proceeds from the event will go to the Adam Z. Rice Memorial Foundation, a fund established to support causes that were dear to Rice and his family. The book signing will be held Wednesday, Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. at Pages Bookstore in Manhattan Beach.

Rice died in a traffic accident on July 6 in Brighton, England, where he was studying. He was a member of Dudeck’s youth theater company from 2002 to 2005. Based in Manhattan Beach, Beach Kids on Broadway had a core of about 30 local children who met once a week for six hours. When the company disbanded in 2005, the members and their families remained tight-knit, she said.

Adam Rice as host Jimmy Durante in 2004 as part of Beach Kids on Broadway. Courtesy of Theresa Dudeck

Adam Rice as host Jimmy Durante in 2004 as part of Beach Kids on Broadway. Courtesy of Theresa Dudeck

“Every single role he took on, we could always count on it being a showstopper,” Dudeck said. “He just lit up the stage and committed 100 percent. He also knew how to work an audience – he was a true entertainer.”

The 21-year-old aspiring filmmaker was a student at UC Berkeley, where he was a member of the school’s improv comedy group. He had always shown passion for improvisation, and Dudeck heard that her old student was taking the art to new heights at UC Berkeley.

Theresa Robbins Dudeck, left, instructs young Adam Rice, center, during rehearsal in 2005. Courtesy of Theresa Dudeck

Theresa Robbins Dudeck, left, instructs young Adam Rice, center, during rehearsal in 2005. Courtesy of Theresa Dudeck

“Keith Johnstone: A Critical Biography” took five years to research and write, she said. The work is the first rigorous examination of the playwright’s career as a groundbreaking director and teacher of improvisation. Dudeck was inspired by Johnstone’s book “Impro” (1979), which outlined his unique system of training, encouraging spontaneous creation using intuition and imagination.

Dudeck attributes many of her former students’ successes in theater to Johnstone’s influence, which she passed onto them.

“It just felt right to make this more about Adam and raise money for his memorial foundation,” she said. “I was on the verge of canceling it, but I said, ‘Let’s see how we can make this memorable.”

The event will mark the group’s first gathering since Rice’s memorial service. This time around, Dudeck hopes to celebrate her former student’s contagious energy and love of laughter.

“He was the life force,” she said. “He was so funny and had us laughing all the time. You couldn’t keep your eyes off him.”