Write because you want to, not because you have to.
Originally hailing from Sydney, writer, actress, and comedienne Elisa Cristallo will be returning to Adelaide for the 2nd year in a row with her brand new show A Sunday Story.
Weaving together a series of stories that are inspired from real-life experiences, Cristallo is hoping that her show will inject a lighthearted take on 'relatable content' that will put you in a good mood, whilst simultaneously delivering some poignant thoughts to the audience after the show is over.
With her preview performance coming up in less than a month, I was able to catch up with Cristallo, where we talked about her show and her career beyond performing arts - have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you tell us a bit about yourself, Elisa? Elisa: I'm a writer/comedian based in Sydney, I absolutely love stories – reading them, hearing or seeing them, writing them and (of course) performing them. If we find ourselves sharing a coffee or a meal together, you can bet we will end up sharing stories too!
Tema: What made you want to get into the performing arts comedy industries? Elisa: I just felt even though there was so much content out there and so many artists, there wasn't that much content that spoke to me, that I related to and so, there was room for my stories in there too! I love to tell stories across different mediums because every medium has its own strengths and has a different audience. If you do a theatre show, you know only people who can make it to the theatre will see your show, whereas online, you might be able to reach an audience that you'd never thought you'd be able to reach. That's exciting for a storyteller.
Tema: I also read that you are a writer - would you like to share some of your work with us? Are you still actively writing? Do you have much planned (in terms of your writing) in 2019? Elisa: I love to write, especially the first draft of something when you are just telling a pure story, thinking of characters and relationships and storylines – before you're worried about funding and promotion and what internet trolls will say about your work. At the moment, I'm working on a first draft of a novel, a climate fiction novel called 'The Last Famine' and I'm hoping to finish the first draft in 2019. I love to write comedy for myself to perform, but I also love to write drama for other (better?) actors to perform and as a novel.
Tema: What inspired you to come up with the concept of your show A Sunday Story? Elisa: In most stand up comedy, the comic is drawing from there real-life experience, which I think is good – because the audience is looking for truth, they can tell if the comic is being genuine with them or not. But, that also means that if you don't have diverse comics on stage, then you're just hearing the same experiences and the same jokes over and over. I wasn't hearing a lot of material that I related to and I thought, well, I can change that – I can write my own content!
Tema: What can people expect from attending your show? Elisa: I want my audience to enjoy the show and leave in a good mood. My comedy isn't harsh. I don't trash anyone and I don't trash myself. The best feedback I can get is when someone says after the show, 'Oh that story about your partner/parent/friend reminded me of the time this happened…jeez I haven't thought about that in forever!'
Tema: How would you explain your performance to someone who has never been to your show before? Elisa: It's a collection of stories (true stories), some of which are funny and some that meant to make you think or remember or feel. I do a story in character as my Nonna - it's an immigration story, just one of thousands (millions?) we have in Australia. But, it's my favourite part of the show, because it's a story I've grown up with and can now share on stage.
Tema: What is your ideal target audience for your show? Elisa: I draw on my own experiences in my show, so I've been told by a lot of women that they can relate to it. But, I'm not just drawing on my experiences as a woman. I get a lot of couples at my show and my favourite reaction is when there will be a couple in the front row and I'll do a 'relationship' joke and one of them laughs a little too loudly and pokes their partner! Sometimes, I wonder if I'm doing comedy or just trying to work out if other people have the same experiences I do – like my partner thinks you have to turn the light off every time you leave a room. Why? I don't know! Just so you can trip over whatever is in there the next time you go, I think! But then, I get into trouble for squeezing the toothpaste from the top of the tube, not the bottom (why is that even a thing? Who cares?) I like to find out at my show! But, it's also about family, the environment, childhood - things that everyone can relate to!
Tema: What attracted you to get involved with the Adelaide Fringe (AF)? Elisa: I'd always been told by other artists in Sydney that I 'must do Adelaide Fringe'. In the end, I just thought, "I've got to go see what this thing is all about" and I'm glad I did! Now, I'm the Sydney artist saying to my peers they 'must do Adelaide Fringe!'
Tema: How many years have you been involved with the AF? How have found the experience(s) of being involved with the AF? Elisa: This is my second year doing Adelaide Fringe. I took my show 'Welcome to the Family' to Adelaide Fringe last year and had such an amazing experience with it! After visiting Adelaide, I felt that "Welcome to the Family" had reached it peak as a stage show and I have now developed it into a web series. I was lucky to receive funding support from Blacktown Council's Creative Arts Fund and will release the web series in 2019.
Tema: What are you anticipating from the AF this year? Elisa: It's a big festival and I know there are going to be some amazing performers and shows. I'm excited to be part of it, but, I try not to anticipate too much. I always go on stage prepared, excited and ready to give the audience everything I have and then…just see how it goes – see if the magic happens!
Tema: Have you taken your performance interstate / overseas? If so, where have you performed and what has that experience been like? Elisa: I'd love to perform in in the Edinburgh Fringe! I haven't yet, but it's on the to-do list!
Tema: How do you juggle being an actress, a comedienne, a writer, and a performer - all at once? Elisa: Try (try!) to be as organised as I can. I am a big list person, or rather, I write lists so that I can cross things off the list when I've finished it. It's definitely worth the deadline juggling because I just love telling stories and am happy to do it across any medium! Sometimes I get the opportunity to tell a story in a particular way – either writing a play or landing a role in a film or receiving a grant. With Adelaide Fringe, I get the opportunity to be on stage performing, but, with other opportunities, it might be more fixed – they might need a script of a particular length on a particular theme and other times, I might have nothing on and be chasing opportunities. That's why it helps to be across a few platforms, so when once you've been able to sing/dance/act in comedy, now you have to be able to write, perform and create your own content.
Tema: Is there anything else that you'd like your audience / our readers to know about you and your show? Elisa: I'm really excited to bring A Sunday Story to Adelaide Fringe and have a lot of respect for the Fringe-going Adelaide audience! So, if you come to the show, be sure to say hello afterwards, I'd love to know what you think of it!
Elisa Cristallo's show A Sunday Story will be playing at the Basement Bar at Hotel Richmond in Rundle Mall on 3 dates - February 15, 17, and 18.