Ray Caspio

"a shapeshifter of an actor" - Cleveland Plain Dealer


Available as prints:

BeastMaster was a syndicated television series aired originally from 1999 to 2002. It was based on a film called The Beastmaster, which I can’t remember ever watching, but I probably did…maybe. While BeastMaster aired as a series, I watched an episode here and there on Saturdays if I wasn’t doing anything. However, when it was released on DVD (in very expensive season sets shortly after the cancelation), I became an avid viewer. What sold me on the show was Daniel Goddard’s characterization of Dar, which took a few episodes to really develop the appropriate tone.

Daniel Goddard's Dar is the last survivor of his tribe, gifted by the demon Curupira (Emilie de Ravin, later of Lost) with the power to communicate with animals (if ever there was an ultimate superpower for me, it's this one). He became the living link between the human and animal world and Dar did not take his responsibility lightly. Ultimately, though, it was Dar's peaceful nature that drew me in...it also didn't hurt that Daniel Goddard is easy on the eyes. Violence could have easily been Dar's main tactic but he took the high road, resorting to fighting only when necessary and never as the aggressor. In a time where heroes and superheroes are honored for how "badass" they are, Dar is the antithesis of that. He prefers to fight with a blunt club and is horrified when he discovers that his club can transform into his father's sword. What makes Dar is his nobility, intelligence, and his love and reverence for peace, nature, and life, above all else. He was hated by his enemies because of his values. Daniel Goddard portrayed all of that with sensitivity, intelligence, grace, and fierceness (only when necessary).

I wish there were more superheroes like Dar in the world today instead of making them a thing of the past. He was the light in a dark world, which is how I like my heroes. Heroes presented today, in comic books and media, are just as dark as the world around us; indistinguishable from those they fight against. What is there for us to strive for in that?

Here is Dar, his tiger friend Ruh, Sharak the eagle, and Kodo and Podo: the ferrets. 

On a sidenote, I used to watch this series when I began working out six years ago for fitness inspiration. It worked! Perhaps I should start again.

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.