Five Questions for Eliza Clark

Culturebot caught up with playwright Eliza Clark and asked her Five Questions. Eliza’s play EDGEWISE, directed by Trip Cullman, will be given its world-premiere in a co-production by the Off-Broadway companies Page 73 and The Play Company, with previews set to begin November 9 and opening night set for November 17 at the Walkerspace (46 Walker St.) in Tribeca.

1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?

I grew up in Darien, CT. I moved to New York City right after college and then moved to Los Angeles about a year ago to write for the AMC show, “Rubicon.” I’m loving being back in New York for EDGEWISE, especially in November. November in LA is weird. It’s not okay for it to get dark at 4:30 pm if it’s going to be eighty degrees during the day.

2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?

There have been so many. I watched the INDIANA JONES movies religiously as a kid. I think I’ve seen each of them nine hundred times, including TEMPLE OF DOOM. JD Salinger’s FRANNY AND ZOOEY and the accompanying books about the Glass family have influenced how I write about young people and how I acted as a young person. But probably the show that had the biggest influence on me is LES MISERABLES. It was the second play I ever saw (the first was THE SECRET GARDEN), and theater hit me hard on that first viewing. I was obsessed immediately. I was a child actor for a little while and got to do Les Mis on the national tour and in NYC. So this show shaped my love of theater in every way – I love the way that story is told, epically and with music. I loved traveling around the northeast in a bus with a bunch of weirdo theater people to do this crazy show every night. I loved getting a black eye painted on my face every night (on the tour I even got to do it myself!). I loved seeing so many people come together to make all of this magic happen. Though I played Young Cosette, I was the understudy for Gavroche and got to play the role twice on Broadway. I cannot even describe how cool it felt to die on stage. The show made me fall in love with on-stage violence, high stakes, and musicals. Les Mis made me crazy for theater and I will see it every single time I am ever presented with an opportunity.

3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?

I really want to be in a band. When I was about twelve, I got my first guitar and instead of learning how to actually play it, I immediately began writing highly moralistic/emo songs about teen pregnancy and homelessness. I was not a cool child. I wish I had learned how to play that guitar for real and I wish my singing voice sounded better on cool indie music than it does on say, Silent Night. I have the kind of singing voice that sounds better in a chorus. But I would love to be a really talented musician. I would even settle for being one of those people who stands up to sing karaoke and makes the whole place shut up. I’ve always been jealous of those people. Karaoke sharks.

4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.

Well, I used to be a nanny/college essay editor, but in the last year I’ve been lucky enough to be writing for a living. I’ve been writing for RUBICON for the last year and so a typical day was going into an office to make up stories with some of my favorite writers in the universe. It’s a pretty great day really. And then the last couple weeks has been going into a rehearsal room to watch these ridiculously amazing actors and the supremely talented Trip Cullman bring my play to life. While Rubicon is on hiatus, I am working on a pilot and trying to get into a bunch of the writing work I’ve been putting off. Those days include a lot of hair pulling and gratuitous eating.

5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?

I have been very lucky to not have to make that choice yet. I’m surrounded by a lot of really supportive people, especially my parents, who have encouraged me to do whatever I have to to make it happen (and have helped to pick me up in times when I needed it). I hope that art will be my work forever and ever.

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