Ray Caspio

"a shapeshifter of an actor" - Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ray Caspio is a performance artist and “shapeshifter of an actor*” whose work has been called transcendent, magical, powerful, riveting, charismatic, intensely honest and unflinching. Ray’s original satirical work obliterates the fourth wall and invites audiences into the worlds of his eccentric and often grotesque characters, where he tackles issues of identity, bigotry, family, politics, senior care, and addiction from a queer perspective. Caspio is able to cultivate authentic personal connections with audiences whether performing solo or in an ensemble. 

Photo by Laura Bidwell

Ray has appeared on the annual Best of Theatre Lists for Cleveland Scene Magazine (2014 and 2017) and WCPN/NPR’s The Sound of Applause (2014). In 2014, he was profiled by Scene as their Thespian of the year. In Cleveland, he has worked with Theater Ninjas (Associate Artistic Director 2012-2015), Playhouse Square, Dobama Theatre, Cleveland Public Theatre, convergence-continuum, Talespinner Children’s Theatre, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Caspio has created 17 pieces for theatre, cabaret, installation, storytelling, and web; served as a performer-creator in 23 devised productions; and originated more than 30 roles. He has appeared in commercials and short films, and created Uncle Toots' webseries and live performance pieces, in addition to the comedy and conversation podcast, WHO•RAY, which Ray co-hosts with Uncle Toots.

His teaching artistry has brought him to Cleveland Play House, Playhouse Square, Disney Musicals in Schools, Planned Parenthood, the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, MetroHealth Arts-in-Medicine, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. He is available to lead private and workshop sessions in acting and/or personal storytelling. Caspio’s students learn to recognize and develop their Creative Individuality and are guided with ease to truthfully and unabashedly share their hearts with audiences. One student said, “[Ray] really opened up my eyes to what acting is all about, but also, more importantly, how to better interact with others in life. It really had a positive effect on me.”

Caspio is an avid student of Michael Chekhov (MICHA: The Michael Chekhov Association and The Michael Chekhov School-Spring 2018), Bouffon (Giovanni Fusetti), and the Alba Method, with intense interest in the intersection of the techniques. His training includes Eccentric Performing (Avner Eisenberg & Julie Goell), personal storytelling (Lily Be), and improv (Second City).

Ray is the recipient of a 2016 Creative Workforce Fellowship from the Community Partnership for Arts & Culture.

Caspio is also an exhibited illustrator and graphic designer.

His illustrations are whimsical, character-based, pop art portrayals of cultural personalities. His work has appeared on billboards, posters, postcards, print ads, clothing, and the web for clients such as The National Organization for Women, Cuyahoga Community College, Playbill, the independent comic book So Super Duper, various theatrical productions in Cleveland and Los Angeles, Theater Ninjas, and Ninjas’ collaboration with the Cleveland Museum of Art.

He received his illustration degree from Cuyahoga Community College, where my teachers included fine artist Shirley Aley Campbell.

Ray is influenced by the pop culture and style of the '60s and ‘70s. "Growing up, television was my life and I became enamored with strong female characters, many of whom were funny, campy, and capable of superhuman feats; most of whom existed before he was born. My first solo illustration exhibition, Oh, My Stars! (2014, Maria Neil Art Project), featured my ongoing exploration of the personalities who have fascinated, shaped, and taught me since I first learned to twitch my nose in my grandma's front room while writing cursive L's on every page of my baby book."

*Cleveland Plain Dealer

background photos by Frank J. Lanza Photography, courtesy of Theater Ninjas
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Ray Caspio received a 2016 Creative Workforce Fellowship. The Fellowships is a program of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture. Funding for the Fellowship program is made possible by the generous support of Cuyahoga County residents through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.