Call Answered: Scott Ehrenpreis Interview: Clowns Like Me

actor film movies off-broadway play regional theatre television theatre tv May 14, 2024
Call Me Adam Title Page. Call Me Adam logo is on the left side. Scott Ehrenpreis's headshot is on the right side. In the top center of the page is an orange circle with jagged edges that says Featured Interview. Between our photos it says Clowns Like Me. Below the title and in between our names there is an auburn circle that says www.callmeadam.com

When I read about Scott Ehrenpreis' story and play, Clowns Like Me, I was very moved by it.

As someone who grew up with a learning disability, was often picked on, and made to feel less than by his 3rd grade teacher, I resonated with a lot of what the show is about.

In this interview, Scott answered my call to reveal:
  • What he hopes audiences come away with after seeing Clowns Like Me
  • How performing has become his sanctuary
  • What he has learned about himself from performing this show
  • Why he wanted to bring someone on board to write HIS story
  • So much more

Connect with Scott & the show: Website, Facebook, Instagram

Clowns Like Me fearlessly confronts the challenges of living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, OCD, bipolar disorder, social anxiety, and depression, weaving a tale that is as heartbreaking as it is inspiring. Through his journey, Scott uncovers a remarkable truth: the stage becomes his sanctuary, a place where, if only for a few hours, he can emerge from the shadows of his struggles into the spotlight of empowerment and self-expression.

Clowns Like Me will play at the Daryl Roth Theatre's DR2 in NYC from June 21-August 18, 2024. Click here for tickets! 

Clowns Like Me will also be partnering with local community organizations that help give voice to mental illness issues. The show is thrilled to announce their first community partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

1. This summer you are bringing your show, Clowns Like Me, to NYC after a successful out of town run. The show follows your mental health journey juggling Autism Spectrum Disorder, OCD, Bipolar Disorder, Social Anxiety and Depression. While you did not write the show, it is YOUR story being told. What made you want to bring someone else on board to write YOUR story? I am an actor, not a playwright. Writing a play is not in my wheelhouse. I tried writing my lived experience on my own, but it was just full of rage and despair. Nothing but fatal and futile attempts. Nobody wants to come to see a person rant and rave at them. I needed a skilled technician to flesh out my confession with grace and elegance. Jason Canon, my playwright, and director, captured my truth with such humor, heart, and pathos. I could not ask for a more wonderful and immensely talented artist to rip me wide open to expose what goes on in my mind.

2. How did the title of the show come to fruition? My dad came up with the title from a Gary Lewis and the Playboys song, entitled “Everybody Loves A Clown.” The lyrics epitomize how I feel internally in my daily life.

3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing this show? What I hope audiences take away from my show is a broader understanding of what it is like to be on the spectrum. I want to empower people that they too have the power to change for the better, whether they be on the spectrum or not. I want people to have sensitivity in the words they use towards those who may feel off centered or troubled. The words we use matter and we must be cognizant of what comes out of our mouth. I hope that I can reduce the stigma that constantly circulates around mental health. Put a big dent in it. The more we keep the conversation going, the better chance we have to normalize mental health.

4. What have you learned about yourself from performing this show that you may not have known living in the moment? I have learned that I am not my diagnosis. No one is. I am not disabled, but differently abled. I know more than I think I do and am destined to do great and impactful things with my superpower, which is acting on a profound level of authentic storytelling.

Scott Ehrenpreis in Clowns Like Me, Photo Credit: Erin Hoffer

5. What is the hardest scene for you to perform and why is it such a challenge? The hardest scene for me to perform is disclosing to the audience the worst thing that I did to my parents. The pain that I inflicted on them by leaving them a venomous and unforgivable voicemail of superfluous loathing and hatred I felt towards them at the time. I had no identity, no sense of place. I didn’t know who Scott was anymore. I felt broken and defeated. I was estranged from them for 4 years.

It is a challenge because saying those subhuman torrents of pressured speech was inconceivable and evil. I am going to the depths of the most painful memory that is so difficult to become a faded memory.  I fear sometimes I might lose the audience, or they might walk out because of that ill-fated moment in time.

6. What is something performing this show has given you that you didn't expect? The show has given me a newfound lease of life. I did not expect that it would provide such healing and comfort that I am not alone in this messy world. That I matter and am a part of something much bigger than my own life. One person gave me a compliment of a lifetime saying that “I am an ambassador for mental health.” Also, I did not expect to be the audience’s therapist for each performance. Even though I am sharing my story, I am being of service to others so I can be of service to myself. The healing is not just for me, but for the audience as well. It’s still beyond my comprehension to me the impact my one-man show is having on so many people and so many more to come. A lot of people that came to see the show already saw some of themselves in me. They heard their own story to a certain extent. What a beautiful collective experience of commonality.

Scott Ehrenpreis in Clowns Like Me, Photo Credit: Erin Hoffer

7. Based upon your own life experience, what is something you want to share with those who are struggling with their own mental health journey? The tips that I would recommend to people on their mental wellness journey is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. One must cling on to hope and never give up even when the odds are against you and life feels intolerable. There is no cure for being on the spectrum, but only control and management.

People such as I, who have a mental health affliction are not their diagnosis. They are not disabled, but differently abled. Everyone has talents and gifts to offer the world and help others who are troubled. Us neurodivergents, are not an inferior race to those neurotypicals. We are wonderful and beautiful in our own right. We may be different, but no less than. Our circuitry and wiring, and how we are designed makes us unique and special. I do not mean that we are better than anybody else.

What makes us interesting is we see life through a different lens, a prism that exhibits all the colors of emotion, whether it be painful or euphoric. Somewhere out there there are others just like me who feel and experience the same pain. But the silver lining is that the quality of life can get better with never giving up hope, hard work, and relentless effort to combat the uphill battles.

8. How has performing become your sanctuary? When I am on stage, I feel invincible. All my problems and worries evaporate. The theatre is a state of being for me. Having floorboards underneath my feet promotes such a beautiful emotional catharsis. I feel alive, rather than existing. I truly am seen for who I really am. I am compelling, engaging, and full of panache. For that moment in time, I do not feel alone.

9. How did being diagnosed with each of these mental health struggles help you start living alongside them? I just started accepting that my mental health struggles do not inhibit or define me. It is not an end destination for me, but a renaissance and beacon of hope. I strive every day to take the dis out of disability.

10. What is something we didn't get to talk about in this interview that you'd like my audience to know about you? I would like people to know that I am just one person, one being. I am not here to solve the world’s problems through my art. That is too cumbersome for one person to even fathom or bring upon themselves. I would like to be thought of as a messenger of healing and hope.

Scott Ehrenpreis, Photo Credit: Shyla Rose

More on Scott Ehrenpreis:

Scott Ehrenpreis earned a BFA in performance from Ohio University. Stage credits include Network, Smoke and Mirrors, and The Lehman Trilogy at Florida Studio Theatre, and Moon over Buffalo at The Player's Theatre. He played Ben Silverman in The Sunshine Boys (multiple productions), The Front Page at Asolo Repertory Theatre, and several shows and play festivals at Theatre Odyssey.

Television credits include South Beach Tow (TruTV), as CIA officer in Burn Notice (USA Network), and as Isaac Andrews in Anastasia Avenue (web series).

Film credits include I Am a White Blood Cell, The Actor, and Mr. Smiller.

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