Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Spotlight On...John Racioppo
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Education: Brown University & London Academy of Dramatic Art
Select Credits: New York: Breathing Time (Fault Line Theatre), She Stoops to Conquer (Hudson Warehouse), Untameable (The Unsoft War/Highly Impractical Theatre), Bronx Bombers (Cover for roles, Primary Stages), The Tie That Binds (The Gallery Players). Regional: Fracture/Mechanics (Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep), Freshwater Road (Rites and Reason), One More Room (Williamstown Theatre Festival Workshop); The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Brown University).
Why theater?: I think we better understand ourselves and others through storytelling. I think theatre, and live performance in general, allows us to practice group empathy. It’s one of the only opportunities in our society to gather with a group of people and learn about ourselves and others, not just through intellect, but through emotional catharsis. I think it has the potential to remind us that we’re a part this amazing shared human experience, not just a singular individual on a rock in space. It can be comforting. It can be terrifying. It can be tragic. But for the duration of the performance, the audience, the artists, the theatre staff are all in it together, for better or for worse.
Who do you play in In the Event of My Death?: I play Peter, the guy who never left the small town he grew up in.
Tell us about In the Event of My Death: Literally, In the Event of My Death is about a group of childhood friends who come together to mourn the passing of a friend who committed suicide. More abstractly, I think it’s about how we change, how we stay the same, and how we reconcile the fact that the idea of ourselves might not be who we actually are.
What is it like being a part of Stable Cable Lab Co.?: I’m fairly new to Stable Cable Lab Co. having only joined around a year ago, though thus far I’ve loved the experience. Personally, it’s been extremely motivating to surround myself with this troupe of talented young actors, writers, and directors. It prevents me from becoming stagnant and pushes me to be better. I think Stable Cable Lab Co.’s strength is that by having a multi-talented and wide reaching network, they are able to connect artists to incubate new plays and collaborate in a trustworthy environment.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: My taste varies drastically. There’s not really one thing that I look for in a show. I think anything that displays clear storytelling and aims to engage and challenge the audience has the potential to be exciting. I’m not really interested in art created to bolster the ego of the artists. As for inspiration, my goal is always to be pulling from a wide array of sources. I’m at my best when I’m constantly watching theatre, listening to music, screening movies, and extending myself as a person. I think there’s as much to be learned watching Chekhov as there is to be learned over a good bourbon and conversation.
Any roles you’re dying to play?: In the immediate future? Biff Loman in Death of a Salesman might be at the top of that list… That or a Marvel s uperhero. Saving the world would be pretty fun.
What’s your favorite showtune?: I quite literally can’t listen to " Wait For It " (from Hamilton) without getting all misty eyed.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: That list is very very long and it ranges from Academy Award winners to close friends I’ve always wanted to collaborate with. As a side note, that’s my favorite thing about being in New York City: the seemingly endless pool of remarkable talent. It seems like every day there’s always a slew of new plays, new films, and new pilots by new artists that excite and inspire me. So that very very long list grows longer nearly every day.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I don’t know what it would be called, but it would definitely be stop motion and I’d want to be voiced by Michael Caine.
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Does Nirvana on the Nevermind Tour in ’91 count? That feels like cheating. So I’ll go with the first ever performance of Romeo & Juliet just because I’d want to see what an audience’s reaction would be if they didn’t know what was coming when things start to go south in Act III.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: I mean, Hamilton is really, really good, but I feel bad recommending something that’s impossible to get access to. Normally I catch 3 or 4 shows a week, but because we’ve been in rehearsal almost every night, I honestly haven’t had the chance to see much theatre recently. So I’ll just say that I make a point of seeing everything St. Ann’s Warehouse produces. Its far and away my favorite venue to see theatre in the city.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: …The Bachelorette. I’m so so sorry.
What’s up next?: I just shot a monologue with Eric Bogosian for his 100 Monologues project which should be coming out online sometime soon. Meanwhile, my production company Good Baby Films has several projects in various stages of production while my theatre company Fault Line Theatre is reading tons of plays as we finalize our plans for next season.