John J. Concado is a hip-hopping’, diehard Mets fan (and brilliant actor, obvi) who is super passionate about seeing more diversity and gender parity onstage. Read more about him and be sure to check out his latest show, Bamboo in Bushwick written by friend of the company, Ed Cardona, Jr.!
InViolet: How do you identify in the theater world?
John: I’m an ACTOR, first and foremost. A bilingual Latino New Yorker one to be specific. I like writing from time to time, but have yet to knock out my opus, but it’s coming. I love photography as well and it’s definitely a passion, but at the end of the day, if I died onstage doing a Guirgis monologue, I’d die smiling.
InViolet: What has your InViolet journey been like so far?
John: It has been a most fulfilling journey. It started with about five years of supporting from afar – I first saw Megan Hart’s play (she’s dope) and various other Inviolet productions and events, including Bixby’s (I met him and thought “wow he writes so beautifully for a tall man.”). I was already tight with peeps like Gerardo Rodriguez, Bernardo Cubria, and Juan Villa from INTAR as well as from our fantasy football shit-talking sessions. I knew a few members through working with other companies, but did get to meet many others in that time. I finally made my love and appreciation known about a year ago and was kindly invited to participate in the summer retreat up in the Hudson Valley. I got to read for five different plays in such a short time. I wanted these artists that I held in high regard to also respect me as a person and an actor so I was on my best behavior and prepared as best I could in between meals and hanging out. I guess I passed because I was eventually “ Inviolet ringed up” by Angela Razzano on a glorious evening in Madison Square Park with the sweet smells of Shake Shack just feet away. How can an Argentine say no when the smell of meat is present? He can’t. It’s in the constitution or some shit.
InViolet: You have a favorite InViolet memory you can share?
John: I mean, all of the retreat really. The plays were awesome as was the acting. Working on Bixby’s piece with Peter Graham was dope, that f’play, Jesus, gutted! Beautiful beautiful stuff you have to see. Michael Henry Harris being a true gentleman and Michelle David welcoming me like an old friend when I was still a bit nervous. Hanging at a lake with Joseph Mancuso and Otaja Abit and having serious ab envy. It’s such a privilege to be in the company of artists you respect and have the luxury to just focus on the work without the bullshit distractions that life and city living can bring. When you add to that some family time of cooking together, eating together, telling stories together, and a muthafuckin’ bonfire, you can’t beat that. That shit is special and you try to bottle it and carry it with you throughout the year for when things get ugly. And they will, but then you hang with your Inviolet family and you remember what you have and feel really lucky and you keep going.
InViolet: Tell us all about BAMBOO IN BUSHWICK, your show with Working Theater.
John: Even Page Six is excited about this show, as they shouted us out last week!
Bamboo in Bushwick has been in development for the past few years with the help of community outreach centers and local residents of Bushwick, Brooklyn. It’s part of The Working Theater’s 5 yr commitment 5 Boroughs, 1 City in which each year they produce a play with an issue or concern of a particular borough. Ed Cardona Jr. has written a majestic play that we originally thought was mostly about the gentrification of a neighborhood and the pricing out of older locals, but in rehearsals we have discovered other themes as well, including gender and racial politics that are very much present. I play Swayze, a native Queens guy who moved to Bushwick 5 years ago and feels a deep connection to his older local friends, but is he also part of the problem? Besides sharp, witty text, the play has some surrealistic moments in which certain monuments of Bushwick come to life – you’ll have to see it to believe it. We have a great cast and an amazing design team too long to list here, but you should come check it out. Gerry helped us with fight choreography today and it looks dope. We tour all 5 boroughs as part of the Working Theater’s mission to bring theater to the people. I can’t wait to perform it in Bushwick proper. Tickets range from donation based to $25 so very affordable, all the info here: www.theworkingtheater.org/bambooinbushwick
InViolet: You have a trip to Argentina planned. To see family, yeah? Have you spent a lot of time there? What’s it like?
John: My parents were immigrants from Argentina who met while working in NYC back in the day. My father lives in Buenos Aires and I grew up spending my summers (their winters) staying and hanging with my many cousins and extended family, so I try to make it a point to go down every year or so. My godson Facundo requires new video games often so that’s excuse enough to fly down. Argentina is a huge country, but most tourists stick to just the capital and maybe Mendoza if they’re into wine. It has almost every type of topography and climate from the desert up north in Jujuy to the closest thing to the arctic, Patagonia. It’s very much worth your time and money to visit and I’m always glad to help plan your trip as an unofficial goodwill ambassador. Though I was born in Manhattan and grew up in Queens, I still very much am Argentinian. Spanish was my first language and I drink mate and eat stupid amounts of beef so yeah, I’m legit. Just come hang out with me during the World Cup and you’ll see. Last summer I even got to act in a parody video for Flama called “Argentinian Intervention” it’s on YouTube if you’d like to laugh at me and be unproductive for five minutes. http://bit.ly/1UszQmP It has over 3 million hits between YouTube and Facebook only proving the world’s love/hate relationship with Argentinians.
InViolet: There is a running joke that theater productions are always having you take off your shirt. Is this true? Do we have a tally for how many times this has happened?
John: Did you read this on Breitbart? Fake news! Sad. If the part calls for it, I’m game. It keeps me honest, which I’m all about with acting. Last year I wore spandex for Locusts Have No King at INTAR. Does that count?
InViolet: You’re passionate about seeing more gender parity and diversity on the stage. Thank you for your efforts on those fronts! What can we all be doing to see positive change in those directions?
John: When something hasn’t been equal or even fairly represented since the beginning of time, you HAVE TO DEMAND IT. It starts with us as artists, as an audience, as subscribers, as people who support theater in various ways. I will no longer go see a play if the casting decisions make no sense to me. You don’t get my money, sorry. If the season is of all male writers with no writers of color, don’t buy tickets, cancel your subscriptions, let those punks know what’s up. You have the power to affect negative, but hopefully, positive change. I also want the plays as I see to reflect issues, real ones, that really f’ matter. As an actor, I try to voice my opinion if I think a particular character can be played by a woman or by a person of color. It really bothers me and turns me away from projects now if my cast isn’t diverse, precisely why Bamboo in Bushwick is so exciting for me. I’m also trying my best to expose myself to new writers and established ones that I just didn’t know of. I like reading and seeing plays by people of color because even though I may never be cast for one of those shows, a good play is a good play. No one asks black actors why they’re reading Shakespeare or Williams or O’Neil. The fact that I was asked why I bought the August Wilson century cycle since I’d never act in one is proof that we still have a long way to go.
InViolet: You seem to be pretty darn close with your mama. Talking every day on the phone? Accompanying her to mass? What a sweet boy you are!
John: I love my mother. She raised me mostly by herself on a pittance of a salary as a public school teacher. She always instilled in me good manners, respect and most importantly, empathy. She kicked my ass to study (figuratively speaking) and when I could have gotten into a lot of trouble, she made sure she doubled down on love and made me feel like I could be anything if I worked hard for it. I graduated from a good college, an Ivy League grad school and studied at an important grad acting program because back in the day some 21 yr old from Argentina decided New York seemed like a better life. If your mom lived 6 miles and an F train ride away and made bomb-ass empanadas, you’d do the exact same thing. ps: the talking on the phone is non-negotiable. All Latin mothers and sons know that!
InViolet: You and fellow InVi member Otoja Abit went to the same high school? Whaaat? Were you aware of one another before you joined InViolet?
John: Otoja and I met at LAByrinth Theater years back and share many similarities, including our love of basketball. Why do the Knicks hate me and break my heart by the way?! Yes, we did go to the same high school though a few years apart. Archbishop Molloy is an awesome school. An educational and sports powerhouse and at that time – gasp – all boys! Thank god, I was an awkward fat kid. Shout out to Kenny Smith, Kenny Anderson, Dave Caruso, astronaut Charles Camarada and Governor Cuomo, all grads!
InViolet: You’re a Mets fan, huh? A life long fan? Have you grown accustomed to Yankees fans giving you s#*%?
John: Always a Mets fan! Queens, represent, represent. I don’t think a single photo exists of me with Yankee paraphernalia. Yankee fans have finally gotten a little subdued in the past few years. The Evil Empire may have all their glory blah blah blah, but I like to live in the present. This is our town now, baby!!! Hehehe, let the hate mail begin. I go to a bunch of games every year, still call it Shea, adore the 7 train and got to go to the World Series not too long ago. We takin’ it all this year! ps: fighting to get a Mets hat into Bamboo in Bushwick, but Ed Cardona is a Sox fan, we’ll see.
InViolet: Tell us about the film you shot last summer! Is it completed? Where/when/how can we see it?
John: It’s called Orgami, not origami. It’s written and directed by Woonjae Park, it is shot in black and white, is beautiful and will astound you. Word, that good. It should be out this year in the fancy festivals and what have you. I’m in it too and supposedly act better in black and white. My website will have all the screening updates as we find out.
InViolet: You’re a hip-hop guy. What are you listening to these days? How are your personal hip-hop skillz? Will we ever get to see you… hip-hoppin’?
John: I can spit stuff that I love, but I’m not about to freestyle on a packed 6 train. Anxiously waiting for that Lin Manuel call, would love to! I still listen to the classics as I think they’re nearly impossible to beat. I grew up during the golden era of hip-hop in NYC so I was blessed with some amazing music. Nas’s Illmatic, Biggie’s Ready to Die, Wu-Tang’s 36 Chambers and Tribe’s Midnight Marauders were always on loop. Since I mostly listened to entire albums, I had memorized all the skits word perfect. I can still recite the funny stuff from the Fugees The Score and the GZA’s Liquid Swords. My all-time favorite single though is probably “They Reminisce Over You” by Pete Rock and CL Smooth. In terms of current stuff, Kendrick Lamar is a poet and his albums are like reading an amazing work of literature. It’s best enjoyed from beginning to end. Joey Badass and Action Bronson also get my love.
InViolet: Last year you were in INTAR’s amazing show Locusts Have No King (btw, we LOVED it) with fellow InVi member Dan Domingues, who claims he and the rest of the cast were quite mean to you. Say it ain’t so! What did they do to you??
John: Thanks for coming to see it! It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in the theater. I loved the play written by J. Julian Christopher, loved my cast, my director David Mendizabal, my entire team. Despite what Dan thinks, they weren’t that bad to me haha, it was all in good fun and they started a Concado therapy fund for me so all was forgiven. Also, my character was a bit of a doormat so if anything, it helped make my character more honest. Mad Stanislavski, yup! Dan Domingues is a treasure of a person and actor. He made me a better and stronger actor every single show and I’m so proud to call him friend and a fellow Invi.
InViolet: What’s next for you?
John: I’m really focused on kicking ass for Bamboo in Bushwick and then look forward to what opportunities the theater gods may grace me with. I’ve worked with some really amazing and important artists and companies over the years and feel so fortunate as I’m a “working actor,” but there’s still so many left on my checklist. I’m coming for you next! I also am interested in doing more film and television work as I’ve found it rewarding on a different level, so watch out as I look forward to getting into your homes! Wait, that came out wrong.
InViolet: What are you excited about?
John: I’m excited for young playwrights Christopher Gabriel Nuñez and Gina Femia to get their moment in the sun. That would make me so happy. I believe in them so much and champion their writing! I’m looking forward to seeing Tallie and Jacqueline’s next work presented at SMS. I am absolutely grateful for all the opportunities and love Inviolet has provided me with in such a short period of time. The retreat, reading new work from Karina Richardson, Jen Bowen and Nurit Monacelli. Richard Etchison’s play this past fall directed by Mark Cirnigliaro, working on Erin Mallon’s hysterical pieces, hanging with everyone at meetings, the recent One Night Stand acting with JJ Pyle and Benjamin Manno and last but certainly, not least, The Second Monday Socials. So so thankful to Marguerite Stimpson and Bixby for birthing it and providing all of us with a monthly artistic outlet, not to mention Troy Lococo and his beautiful spirit. This is my family and I love you all. Thank you.
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