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 connections with audiences whether performing solo or in an ensemble. He is the recipient of a 2016 Creative Workforce Fellowship from the Community Partnership for Arts & Culture.

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 performed at 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. Ray created the Uncle Toots webseries and live performance pieces, in addition to the comedy and conversation podcast, WHO•RAY, which he co-hosts with Uncle Toots.

Caspio's 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. Ray is available to lead private and workshop sessions in the Michael Chekhov technique 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 has been an avid student of the Michael Chekhov technique for nearly a decade. His studies have brought him to the Michael Chekhov School in Hudson, NY, where he worked with master teachers Ted Pugh, Fern Sloan, and Ragnar Freidank. Ray also studies with the international faculty of MICHA: The Michael Chekhov Association, and is on track to receive a teaching certificate of completion. His other training includes Bouffon (Giovanni Fusetti), Eccentric Performing (Avner Eisenberg & Julie Goell), personal storytelling (Lily Be), and sketch writing and improv (Second City).

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.