Edgar Oliver's New York Trilogy

Written & Performed by Edgar Oliver

Directed by Randy Sharp

October 12th - November 18th, 2017

Thursdays - Saturdays at 8PM
Adults $30
Seniors/Students $20
Artists/Under 30 $10
Veterans and Active U.S. Service Members & Their Families, FREE

East 10th Street: Self Portrait With Empty House
Thurs.-Sat., October 12-14 & November 2-4, 8pm

In The Park
Thurs.-Sat., October 19-21 & November 9-11, 8pm

Attorney Street
Thurs.-Sat., October 26-28 & November 16-18, 8pm

Axis Theatre served as the incubator and theatrical home for East 10th Street: Self Portrait with Empty House (2009), In the Park (2014), and Attorney Street (2016), the three poignantly peculiar solo plays that make up New York's monologizing cult sensation Edgar Oliver's New York Trilogy. Now, the company is pleased to announce the return of these three works in a back-to-back limited engagement. Each will run for a week, in the chronological order of their creation—and then the cycle will repeat.

Oliver created East 10th Street: Self Portrait with Empty House in 2009, with the encouragement of Axis Theatre's founder/artistic director Randy Sharp and producing director Brian Barnhart, who suggested he turn the stories he would tell them about his (now, former) S.R.O. boarding house—one of the city's last—into a play. Says Oliver on Yale University Radio, "people who live in rooming houses tend to go a bit bonkers. It's probably miraculous that I survived, which I think I did." Inhabiting the halls of this East 10th Street building (with its $16-weekly rents) were a superintendent who made sure to step lightly on the ghosts he claimed gathered on his floor and stared up at him, a possible Nazi-in-hiding, the landlord's former wet nurse who apparently lived in a nest of rags, and many other memorable persons around which the performance centers. Slowly, all of the others moved away, and Oliver ended up being the only tenant, completely alone there, for 16 years. As Ben Brantley notes in his New York Times review of East 10th Street, Oliver "finds warmth in the lonely darkness. He may sound like a ghoul, but he is oddly comforting company."

In 2014, Oliver approached Sharp and told her he wanted to make another show to perform at Axis—one that focused on his current New York life, rather than the stories he'd collected from his past. The resulting piece, In the Park, is a collage of writing—poems, short prose pieces, random musings—Oliver had done during and about his wanderings in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Here, the artist guides his audience to the hidden landscapes of the park, and of his own desires. This most personal of Oliver's monologues us a journey of loss and hope, joy and sadness, along tangled paths to the fascinating place that is Oliver's heart.

"Oliver...makes his audience understand that theatre, once stripped of its standard smoke and mirrors, is a storytelling medium, wonderfully reducible to two or three essentials: actor and text and that unidentifiable something which visionaries such as Artaud call magic." — Hilton Als, The New Yorker (on In the Park)

Finally, in 2016, it occurred to Oliver and Sharp that these two works shared a thematic core, and that they could, in fact, be topped off by another New York play to form a trilogy—and so Attorney Street was born, detailing Oliver's life and residence on the titular Lower East Side street, after he was forced to leave the rooming house he had occupied for three decades. Between the two homes was a circuitous path that held turns and encounters that changed Oliver's life, and opened doors he never thought existed. Attorney Street ties all three works together, with allusions both to Prospect Park (particularly: a urinal in the adjacent botanical garden) and his former S.R.O. dwelling.

Edgar Oliver has been a fixture of the downtown New York scene for over three decades, and this trio of solo shows has brought him a new level of international acclaim. The autobiographical monologues comprising this series, now presented for the first time as a true trilogy, are keenly attuned to the concrete details of this city and Oliver's life. Beyond the locations and objects from which Oliver gets his unique form of rapturously melancholy inspiration, the performer also spends ample time, in all three pieces, meditating on the beauty of "men of the city." He asks, "What am I?" then answers his own question, "Some statue of solitude there on my bench, still dreaming of love."

Stage Manager - Regina Betancourt
Asst. Stage Manager - Erik Savage
Lighting Designer - David Zeffren
Asst. Lighting Designer - Amy Harper
Original Music - Paul Carbonara
Musicians - Paul Carbonara, Samuel Quiggins
Costume Designer - Karl Ruckdeschel
Set Designer - Chad Yarborough
Website & Graphic Designer - Ethan Crenson
Publicity/PR - Blake Zidell & Assoc.
Photography - Pavel Antonov

Artistic Director - Randy Sharp
Producing Director - Brian Barnhart
Executive Producer - Jeffrey Resnick

The running time is approximately 70 minutes without an intermission.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the configuration of the theatre late seating cannot be permitted. However, a ticket can be exchanged for another performance, subject to availability.

“... sweet and sinister ... a judiciously austere production directed by Randy Sharp... Mr. Oliver is a living work of theater all by himself...”
—Ben Brantley (on "East 10th Street")
The New York Times
“...emotionally grand work ... 'In the Park' (respectfully directed by Randy Sharp), is so beautiful—so enthralling in its undisguised but never tedious self-absorption, in its command of the spoken word, and in its demand for love—that to remain unmoved by it, or to dismiss it as fairy folderol, begs the question: Why? ... (it is) an enormous leap into autobiographical brilliance ... 'In the Park' is a love story about moments and sensations...”
—Hilton Als (on "In the Park")
The New Yorker
“'In the Park' manically enchants with gruesome, erotic brevity ... what makes this Walser-esque daisy chain of pastoral vignettes cohere is Oliver's perverse enthusiasm ... the monologue's lyricism makes all his obsessions seem equally compelling...”
—on "In the Park"
The Village Voice
“... extraordinary ... in 'Attorney Street,' (Edgar Oliver's) seriously haunting new performance piece ... the phantoms summoned by this one-of-a-kind monologuist are both vivid and elusive, as such manifestations must be ... Mr. Oliver's tone often seems poised between that of Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe, with perhaps a touch of Tennyson's memorializing rapture. Mr. Oliver is, above all, an elegist, as so many 19th-century writers were.”
—Ben Brantley (on "Attorney Street")
The New York Times
“The piece is a brief anthology of farewells, to a bakery in an earlier New York, to a lost poem, to a father he never knew. There's a feeling of suspended time: Oliver sometimes seems like a time-traveler buffeted by our too-noisy world ... lyrical ... heartbreaking...”
—Helen Shaw | 4 STARS (on "Attorney Street")
Time Out New York
“... Oliver's a genius, and dispossessed. He's the James McCourt of the American stage, a gay man not inebriated by but still prone to dreaming about Poe ... He's a frightening performer, so utterly himself that you can't compare him to anyone out there, nor can you compare his work to the synthetic or stupidly crafty stuff that passes as theatre nowadays. Oliver, by example, reminds you that theatre first began as a way of making poems live, and gives voice to stories that couldn't be told any other way.”
—Hilton Als
The New Yorker