Books and plays and exhibits, oh my! ArtistHop is a new column spotlighting talented artists in the Columbia community who have recently done something notable. This week, we profile Eden Gordon (BC ’19), writer and musical director for the original NOMADS play premiering this weekend, The Other Side.
1. Name, school/year, and tools of your trade?
Eden Arielle Gordon, Barnard ’19, writer/musician.
2. What work or project are you recently known for? Why should people care about it?
I wrote and music directed the show The Other Side, which goes up October 25-27 in the GMT. It was produced by NOMADS this fall and features an absolutely incredible team and cast. The show tells the story of Joyce Johnson and Elise Cowen, two female Beat poets who went to Barnard and happened to date Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.
3. A story from the process?
I actually came up with the tune for one of the songs while hiking down a ravine. It just popped into my head fully formed. That’s how most of the songs came actually—I sort of feel like I can’t even take credit for them. I can’t write if I’m agonizing over details or using too much of my conscious mind. It has to flow.
4. Which groups or people on campus helped you develop the work (or generally as an artist)?
So many people helped to make this happen. The NOMADS board produced the show and made it all possible. Sal Volpe, the director, really rose to this challenging task of pulling the show together in six weeks. Klara Pokrzyra stepped up and pulled it all together from a stage management perspective. Simon Broucke pulled together a truly astounding number of orchestrations last-minute. And of course the cast has been working tirelessly, bringing a new level of depth to these characters and this story.
5. Most difficult obstacle in your process, and how you overcame it?
The hardest part of this process has probably been worrying about the intensity of the show and worrying about the actors who have had to live in this intense chaotic world for the past month and a half. I think I was trying to take on a few too many themes with this idea, and I also realized the show is kind of much more emotional than I originally believed it was.
I’ve also worried about how the show will read. It really is not a perfect or inspiring story; it’s a true story of a point in history that, oddly, seems to reflect the chaos and fragmentation of our own era. I keep saying this, but I honestly think I could write a critical essay of my own show…
It’s also been very unexpectedly challenging to find pit musicians.
6. If any artist in history could be your editor, who would you choose and why?
I’d love to have Patti Smith edit my work; her memoir Just Kids is definitely a major inspiration and catalyst for my love of 1960s culture. (Come to think of it, that book would make a great musical).
7. Advice to your past self from when you started this project?
Main advice: think about the show as a show earlier in the process (and less as a piece of writing). Start finding pit musicians earlier. Also, get an assistant music director.
8. Analyze one of your own works as if you’re a freshman in a First-Year Writing/core class who did none of the readings.
The Other Side is a show about female beat poets? There’s a lot of drugs and poetry…and it takes place in New York. There were a lot of people with big dreams but most of those dreams involved, uh, excluding certain people.
9. What’s next from you?
I am absolutely happiest when I’m immersed in a project, so I may or may not have started on another musical… I’m also planning on performing my own singer-songwriter work more… And I suppose I ought to think about what’ll happen when I leave school and am out in the real world next year.
10. Your advice to aspiring artists in your field?
Every process is different, but in the words of Shia LaBoeuf, DO IT! If you are really, really passionate about something, follow it all the way through. My artistic passions have never led me astray, no matter how weird they seemed at the start. I have found the energy you send out tends to return—if you’re working on something because you truly love it, chances are it will give you a lot back. Set deadlines, don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability or ask for help, but don’t underestimate your own abilities.
Photo via Emma Noelle
Know an artist who’s done something notable you’d like to nominate for ArtistHop? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.