East 10th Street: Self Portrait with Empty House (Edinburgh Festival Fringe)

presented by Axis Theatre Company, Brian Barnhart & Richard Jordan Productions Ltd and in Association with David Elliott

Written & Performed by Edgar Oliver | Directed by Randy Sharp

August 6 - 16, 2009

Axis Company presents EAST 10TH STREET: SELF PORTRAIT WITH EMPTY HOUSE, a new play by and about Downtown performance icon Edgar Oliver and directed by Randy Sharp. This look at a life on the fringes of New York's Lower East Side comes on the heels of what could be Oliver's breakthrough role in the upcoming film from Napoleon Dynamite's Jared Hess, Gentlemen Broncos (opposite Sam Rockwell), as well as a national advertising campaign for mobile phones in Ireland that has become a cult phenomenon.

In EAST 10TH STREET: SELF PORTRAIT WITH EMPTY HOUSE, long-standing, downtown theatre icon Edgar Oliver takes the audience on a fantastic voyage through the strange rooms of the apartment house where he has lived since his first years in New York. Inhabiting the dark, mysterious halls of an East Village tenement building are a dwarf Cabalist, a possible Nazi, the landlord's former wet nurse who apparently lives in a nest of rags, and many other memorable persons. Edgar leads the audience up to the final room, his own, at the top of the derelict stairs, wherein lie the secrets of his own family and the unbelievable odyssey that brought him there. This incredible cast of characters illuminate the sad, funny, brilliant and deeply personal story.

Georgia native Edgar Oliver started performing in New York at the Pyramid in the mid-1980's alongside artists including Hapi Phace, Kenbra Pfahler, Samoa and playwright Kestutis Nakas. As a playwright, many of Oliver's plays have been staged at La MaMa and other downtown NYC theatres, including The Seven Year Vacation, The Poetry Killer, Hands in Wartime, Motel Blue 19, and Mosquito Succulence. As a stage actor, he has performed in countless plays including Edward II with Cliplight Theater, Marc Palmieri's Carl the Second, Lipsynka's Dial M for Model, and numerous productions at Axis including A Glance at New York (Edinburgh Festival & NYC), Julius Caesar, USS Frankenstein, Hospital, and Seven in One Blow. Edgar is also one of the most beloved story tellers at The Moth. His film roles include "That's Beautiful Frank", "Henry May Long" (directed by Axis' Randy Sharp) and "Gentlemen Broncos". His published works include A Portrait of New York by a Wanderer There, Summer and The Man Who Loved Plants (published by Panther Books).


Written & Performed by Edgar Oliver
Directed by Randall Sharp
Lighting Design by David Zeffren
Sound Design by Steve Fontaine
Press - Martin Shippen Arts Marketing & Media
Personal Asst. to Richard Jordan: Tammy Localio

AXIS COMPANY
artistic director: Randy Sharp
producing director: Brian Barnhart
executive producer: Jeffrey Resnick

For Mr. Supter, Frances, Donald, Edwin, Freddie, Helen and always for Jason.
This production is made possible by a generous grant from the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.

Purchase East 10th Street: Self Portrait with Empty House by Edgar Oliver | Published by Dramatist's Play Service.


  • Edgar Oliver - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Edgar Oliver - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Edgar Oliver - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Edgar Oliver - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Edgar Oliver - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Edgar Oliver - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Edgar Oliver - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Edgar Oliver - photo by Dixie Sheridan




“WINNER! 2009 EDINBURGH FRINGE FIRST AWARD | What a strange, beautiful and haunting piece of New York gothic is Edgar Oliver’s 'East 10th Street'...his show is an elegy, but also a cry for freedom, drawling, muted, but strong.”
—The Scotsman
“...sweet and sinister...Mr. Oliver is a living work of theater all by himself.”
—Ben Brantley
The New York Times
“…mesmerizing… appallingly funny, oddly loving and, in the end, hauntingly forlorn.”
—The Independent
“...Oliver cuts a remarkable dash, as if that other New York room-house dweller Quentin Crisp had blessed him with the mantle of left-field raconteurship. (****)”
—The Herald
“A consummate performer, Oliver is able to hold the audience’s attention just standing still on an empty stage, which he seems to fill with that splendid voice… This is a performance which comes from the heart, capturing loneliness amongst the grotesqueries of his descriptions…”
—Fringe Review
“…as directed by Randall Sharp, Oliver does tell his story engagingly, and may well lure you into his skewed and undeniably colourful world.”
—Theatre Guide London
“His prose flows seamlessly, beautifully crafted, with not a word wasted, every syllable a brushstroke… Oliver is a rare talent. The ease with which he pulls this off belies the incredibly complexity and skill it demands. It is no surprise he is known as a living legend. He not only deserves the accolade, he embodies it.”
—Broadway Baby
“Oliver wonderfully succeeds in evoking the musty, claustrophobic atmosphere of his gothic gallery of off-kilter humanity.”
—Metro UK