BWW Q&A: Scott Ehrenpreis on CLOWNS LIKE ME at DR2 Theatre

On stage through August 18th, 2024.

By: Jun. 12, 2024
BWW Q&A: Scott Ehrenpreis on CLOWNS LIKE ME at DR2 Theatre
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Mental illness is no laughing matter, but in the new solo show Clowns Like Me, audience members are encouraged to laugh, cry and enjoy the ride into the unknown. Clowns Like Me will have its New York Off-Broadway Premiere at the DR2 Theatre this summer. The witty, timely, and inspiring story is based on Sarasota actor and storyteller Scott Ehrenpreis true life struggles with mental illness and its stigmas. The play was written by Jason Cannon, who also directs. Previews begin on June 21, for a limited engagement through August 18, 2024. Opening night is slated for Sunday, June 30 at 6:30pm. 

LIFELINE PRODUCTIONS produces personal stories of those living with mental illness to create awareness, stimulate conversation, reduce stigmas, and foster hope and healing. 

During its New York run, Clowns Like Me will be partnering with local community organizations that help give voice to mental illness issues. The show is thrilled to announce their first New York community partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI-NYC.

The main goals of the production are to inspire hope to anyone who is on a journey to achieve mental wellness and to provide a clearer understanding to those who have friends and family dealing with mental illness. Talkbacks with Scott and special guests will take place following each performance

​Using thing the power of the arts, LIFELINE PRODUCTIONS takes you inside the minds of those who struggle, to better understand their invisible demons, and shatter the stigma surrounding mental illness. By producing and presenting personal stories they provide hope, healing, comfort, and a sense of control to those who suffer from mental illnesses, their families, friends, and caretakers. Their productions, talkback sessions, and programs help nurture acceptance and understanding and foster mental wellness.

Their first production, CLOWNS LIKE ME, debuted to sold-out audiences, rave reviews, and heartfelt testimonials at Sarasota's Cook Theatre in May 2023, and returned for a second run in August 2023, CLOWNS LIKE ME will make it's Off-Broadway debut in June 2024 at the DR2 Theatre following a NY sneak peek run in Sarasota in May. LIFELINE PRODUCTIONS is a Sarasota Florida based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

In his deeply personal and universally resonant one-man show, seasoned actor and master storyteller Scott Ehrenpreis tells his humorous yet profound story of living with mental illness. Like, lots of mental illness. 

​“Clowns Like Me” fearlessly confronts the challenges of living with OCD, bipolar disorder, Autism Spectrum 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.

Don't miss this unique and uplifting theatrical experience that promises not only to entertain but to illuminate the resilience of the human spirit. "Clowns Like Me" invites New York audiences to witness the transformative power of storytelling, where laughter and vulnerability collide to reveal the strength found in facing one's fears. Join Scott for an unforgettable evening complete with post-show talkbacks where the magic of theater becomes a beacon of hope and liberation for those impacted by mental illness.

Scott Ehrenpreis (Performer) 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.

What inspired you to share your personal experiences with mental illness in a solo show?

Being able to share my own story with the world means everything. This show has allowed me the chance to find acceptance in knowing that my mental health struggles do not inhibit nor 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. Performing this show and connecting with our audiences is creating something authentic and deeply empowering. Not just for myself, but for anyone who has ever suffered from mental illness, anyone who has cared for anyone who suffers, or even the greater neurotypical population who just may not understand but want to. In my experience, when we educate through open conversation it creates a space for both better understanding and much needed empathy.

How does it feel to portray your own life on stage?

The show has given me a newfound lease on life. I did not expect that it would provide such healing and comfort, especially with knowing that I am not alone in this messy world. One person gave me a compliment of a lifetime saying that “I am an ambassador for mental health.” It's like I get the chance to be the audience’s therapist for each performance. While being of service to others I can also be of service to myself.

What conversations do you hope "Clowns Like Me" will spark about mental health?

Mental illness should not be a dirty word. 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 can 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. 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.

How did your collaboration with Jason Cannon come about for this project?

Jason was truly the perfect collaborator with us for this project. I am not a playwright by trade and we knew that we really needed to nail this aspect of the show, and he had come highly recommended by a mutual connection. Upon meeting it was clear that Jason felt just as connected to the authentic storytelling that we were looking to bring to life here. Conveying that not only did this feel personal for him, but simply that he had to do this. The rest was history. He fully embraced this journey along with us, becoming a close confidant, a colleague, and a dear friend.

Could you tell us more about your partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness for this play?

During its New York run, Clowns Like Me will be partnering with local community organizations that help give voice to mental illness issues. The show is thrilled to announce a first New York community partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI-NYC. "We are proud to partner with Clowns Like Me, a production which breaks the stigma around living with mental illness for individuals and their families. We're excited to see NAMI-NYC featured in the show as a free mental health resource and community for New Yorkers and beyond," shared Matt Kudish, CEO of NAMI-NYC, helping individuals and families affected by mental illness with classes, support groups, family mentoring, a Helpline, and much more.

How does performing in "Clowns Like Me" differ from your previous stage and screen roles?

When I am on stage as myself, 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.

Why must audiences come and see the show?

I would like to be thought of as a messenger of healing and hope. 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.


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