Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Spotlight On...Todd Rizley

Name: Todd Rizley

Hometown: Wellesley, Massachusetts

Education: BA in Drama and Spanish from Tufts University, MA in European Affairs from Sciences Po- Paris

Select Credits: NYC: readings with The Civilians and The Survivalists. International/Regional: Making The Move (Edinburgh Fringe), The Front Page (Williamstown), The Prince and the Pauper (Wheelock), readings at the American Repertory Theater.

Why theater?: I love art of all kinds. I play a lot of music but suck at visual arts even though sometimes I wish deep down that I were a painter. I guess theater was a compromise? **laughs at own joke** I do love how spontaneous it is but, above all, the collaborative elements of the process of theater have always really excited me.

Who do you play in Loose Canon?: A whole bunch of characters! I play Tiresias, a blind clairvoyant child, Hugo, a type-A Brooklyn-style hipster, Armando, a Chekovian straight man from the "big city”, and Seb, a mysterious taciturn Petco employee who doesn't plan too far in advance.

Tell us about Loose Canon: Loose Canon is 6 plays written by Gabriel Vega Weissman and Brian Reno emulating/parodying different theatrical styles and specific authors using a more contemporary vernacular. Each play stands alone but there is a running idea/narrative throughout all six pieces. To give you a taste: one of the plays is set in an IKEA cafeteria where two hipsters debate the merits of different aesthetics and approaches to furniture. The whole play is in rhyming couplets emulating Molière’s style. The writing is brilliant, funny, and both high and lowbrow.

What is it like being a part of Loose Canon?: This process has been so fun! We just wrapped up our first production at the Scranton Shakespeare Festival where we got to test out the script. The writers went back over each of the pieces to tighten them up and did some fantastic re-writes after having seen how everything played. We are just starting rehearsals for the Fringe, so we’ve been able to play around with the show for about a month now. It has really changed, grown, and matured. We’re only a six-person cast and we’re all very close, which is a lot of fun. Additionally, we all play several characters, which poses challenges given that we sometimes have only 30 seconds in between plays to enter as an entirely different, fully fleshed out character.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love theater that makes me think/question/reevaluate my own beliefs. I think that the best theater, while entertaining, leaves you a bit unsettled and wanting answers. A piece of art, in my mind, shouldn’t be a neat package tied up with a bow, it should be a mess, a wash of ideas, that get the gears turning in your brain. Drama isn’t the only way to achieve this. Some of the best comedies do this pretty surreptitiously! I’m also a huge lover of theater from other cultures that both gives me an insight into another world and also allows me to understand the creative process in a different light. Some of my favorities artists are Salvador Dalí, Sondheim, Calderón de la Barca, Bernard-Marie Koltès, Iñárritu, Almodóvar, and Federico Fellini.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: There are too many roles I’d love to play. Here is the current list of roles in my age range that I’m dying to play: The Bastard (King John), Septimus (Arcadia), Charlie (Merrily We Roll Along).  Also, more recently, William from the second of Rona Munro’s The James Plays which I was fortunate enough to see in Edinburgh last summer.

What’s your favorite showtune?: "Finishing the Hat" from Sunday in the Park with George ("Now/Soon/Later" from A Little Night Music is a close second, though!)

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I'd love to work with Pedro Almodóvar. That man is a genius. Luckily I speak Spanish!

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Steven Boyer or Bobby Steggert. It'd be called "So Awkward. So. Goddamned. Awkward: The Todd Rizley Story"

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Ack! So many! Can I give you a few? **Thinks** OK! I’ll give you a few! Sunday in the Park with George,  Hair, and La vida es sueño.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Hamilton! I saw it at the Public and have tickets to see it at the end of the month. It was one of the most visionary and engaging pieces of theater I have ever seen. If you have to sell your organs or first born to afford tickets, do it.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Ice cream. Hands down. Any time of day, any time of year. Is there a blizzard coming? Doesn’t matter. Ice cream time. Apocalypse? Ice cream.

What’s up next?: So much improv! I'm on a few teams performing several times a week. Hephaestus (one of the indie teams I'm on) is in the process of developing a web series that we hope to get off the ground this fall. I've been super busy this summer so hopefully I'll finally be able to take a vacation in September!

For more on Todd, visit