The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Edgar Oliver

Edgar Oliver

Performer, Playwright, Poet

Interviewed on: Thursday, November 30, 2017
Location: at Primary Stages
Interviewed by: Sally Plass
Interview #117
Photo Credit: Pavel Antonov
"Just keep trying to do things. I will, and that’s my message to anybody working and starting out in theatre, just keep on trying to do stuff."
Edgar Oliver Highlights
Video Length: 6 Minutes, 35 Seconds
Edgar Oliver Interview
Video Length: 2 Hours, 8 Minutes

Edgar Oliver is a performer, playwright, and poet who has been active in New York’s downtown theatre scene since the early 1980s. He began his career performing poems and monologues at venues such as The Pyramid Club and ABC No Rio. As a playwright, many of his works have been staged at La MaMa and other downtown NYC theatres. His credits as a playwright include: THE SEVEN YEAR VACATION (1989), THE GHOST OF BROOKLYN (1989), THE LOST BEDROOM (1990), THE POETRY KILLER (1990), MOTEL BLUE 19 (1991), MOSQUITO SUCCULENCE (1993), HANDS IN WARTIME (1994), and THE DROWNING PAGES (2000). As a stage actor, he has appeared in productions with Cliplight Theater and the Axis Theatre Company, and his credits include: DIAL M FOR MODEL (1986), WHEN LITHUANIA RULED THE WORLD PARTS I-IV (1987, 1992), HOSPITAL (since 1997), CARL THE SECOND (2001), SEVEN IN ONE BLOW, OR THE BRAVE LITTLE KID (since 2002), JULIUS CAESAR (2002), A GLANCE AT NEW YORK (2003), USS FRANKENSTEIN (2003), and TRINITY 5:29 (2009). As a solo artist, he has written and performed five critically acclaimed one-man shows: EAST 10TH STREET: SELF PORTRAIT WITH EMPTY HOUSE (2008), HELEN & EDGAR (2012), IN THE PARK (2014), ATTORNEY STREET (2016), and LONDON PARIS (2017).

Edgar Oliver was born in Savannah, Georgia. He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in art history. His film roles include That’s Beautiful Frank, Henry May Long, and Gentlemen Broncos, and his television work includes appearances on Oddities and hosting Odd Folks Home for the Science Channel. He has published one novel, The Man Who Loved Plants, and produced four collections of poetry that have been published by Oilcan Press. He is one of the most beloved storytellers at The Moth. He regularly collaborates with Brooklyn-based musical collective The Octave Doktors. His sister is Helen Oliver Adelson, a renowned visual artist.

Mentioned in Interview

Helen Oliver Adelson, Jonathan Ames, Brian Barnhart, Jason Bauer, Bobby Bradley, Catherine Burns, Brian Damage, George Demas, Ethyl Eichelberger, George Dawes Green, Hattie Hathaway, Aaron Howard, John Kelly, Michael Laurence, Lypsinka, Kestutis Nakas, The Octave Doktors, Marc Palmieri, Kembra Pfahler, Hapi Phace, Samoa, John Sex, Randy Sharp, Ellen Stewart, Tabboo, Chris Tanner, Jack White, Wendy Wild, ABC No Rio, Axis Theatre Company, Cliplight Theatre, La MaMa E.T.C., Oilcan Press, The Pyramid Club, ATTORNEY STREET, CARL THE SECOND, CHOP OFF YOUR EAR, DIAL M FOR MODEL, THE DROWNING PAGES, EAST 10TH STREET: SELF PORTRAIT WITH EMPTY HOUSE, THE GHOST OF BROOKLYN, A GLANCE AT NEW YORK, HANDS IN WARTIME, HELEN & EDGAR, HOSPITAL, IN THE PARK, JULIUS CAESAR, LONDON PARIS, THE LOST BEDROOM, MOSQUITO SUCCULENCE, MOTEL BLUE 19, THE POETRY KILLER, SEVEN IN ONE BLOW, OR THE BRAVE LITTLE KID, THE SEVEN YEAR VACATION, TRINITY 5:29, USS FRANKENSTEIN, WHEN LITHUANIA RULED THE WORLD PARTS I-IV