Saturday, September 24, 2016
Spotlight On...Joe Ferraro
Hometown: West Babylon
Education: University at Buffalo
Favorite Credits: As an actor- George Tesman in Hedda Gabler and Lee in True West. As a writer- Diamond Dogs and Deadly Humor.
Why theater?: There is something incredible about the intimacy of theater. You are watching something unfold in front of you and while the results may be predetermined, there is always a feeling that anything can happen. I love knowing you could be in the audience to witness “the show when everything clicked.” With film or music you can create that moment through numerous takes. Theater doesn’t afford that luxury which makes it so incredible when it does happen on the stage.
Tell us about Diamond Dogs: Diamond Dogs is a mix of Putnam, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Best in Show." It’s an absurdist comedy that takes place in the already absurd world of the competitive dog circuit. The competition narrative has always been something I gravitated to because in every character’s mind, they have a justified reason for winning. I think this allows for an interesting, fleshed out group of characters. Plus, dogs are amazing and with Cats back on Broadway, I felt the canine fans needed something to cling to!
What inspired you to write Diamond Dogs?: I have wanted to do a show about dogs for years but could never visually grasp how it would work on stage. I ended up going to a friend’s show (A series of one-acts produced by some incredibly talented people over at Theater 68) and saw a play that featured an older gentleman playing a little girl. I was legitimately crying from laughter because every moment I bought into the character, I was quickly reminded that it was still this older guy. I loved the playful balance of being in on the joke but still being emotionally affected by the source material. That’s when I realized I could actually write this weird dog play and it would work.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I’m the worst person to answer this question because the smallest things inspire me. If you are the guy at work who cracks jokes that make everyone’s day a bit better, you have inspired me more than most Broadway actors. I think any theater that is willing to take risks to be true to the source material will always speak to me. We live in a time where being able to produce content is shockingly easy and sacrificing that same content to reach a broader audience is just as easy….I’m inspired by those who decline the latter.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: As shocking as it may sound, I’ve yet to work with Stanley Tucci. I actually strapped the script to a homing pigeon with a dvd copy of “The Devil Wears Prada” as a visual reference for him but never heard back. Mark Strong did reach out for the same role but it was already cast.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: I am a huge fan of Christopher Durang, so just about anything he has ever done is worth taking a look. I let people know if you can combine him with David Mamet and remove about 67% of the talent, you sort of get what I’ve been going for with my writing.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: The title of the film would have to be “Some Like it Hot 2: Others like it Frumpy.” I would approach the casting directors with a list featuring Idris Elba and George Clooney to play me but would likely get Paul Giamatti, Joe Pesci and Danny DeVito in response. We end up agreeing on Stanley Tucci.
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: It would have to be the original production of Noises Off or the 2004 Broadway run of Assassins.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I enjoy watching competitive e-sports (specifically Super Smash Brothers, League of Legends and Overwatch), I’ve been known to watch WWE and I’m also shockingly a big fan of Savage Garden.
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: I am currently working as a video editor but I’ve been strongly considering opening up a soup truck with a coffee-menu theme to confuse tourists. It’s called “Cup O’Joe.”
What’s up next?: I have a few projects lined up and hope to start working on those as soon as Diamond Dogs ends. Look out for a full adaptation of Deadly Humor, a family dramedy entitled Shrimp in a Shoebox, a musical set in the world of Fighting Video Games or just me playing bad covers of folk songs as a way to recoup the loses of my wacky dog show!
For more on Diamond Dogs, visit www.newyorktheaterfestival.com/Diamond-Dogs