Robert Cucuzza is a Los Angeles-based theater artist, filmmaker, and acting teacher. He is the Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts at Los Angeles Mission College. His theatre work runs the gamut of musicals, farce, naturalistic plays, adaptations of classics, original work, and devised pieces. In August 2015, he directed his play Circle Jerk at the NOW Festival at REDCAT, where he has also presented Cattywampus, his modern adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie, (also Incubator Arts Project in NYC and South Coast Rep), and the world premiere of Iannis Xenakis’ radio play, Pour La Paix. Also in LA, he wrote and directed the musical extravaganza Hellzapoppin' , the swing music homage Turn the Metal, and directed a radical production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure (all at CalArts). His directing work with solo performance artists includes Jillian Lauren’s Mother Tongue (Steve Allen Theater) and Susan Tierney’s Susan Tierney (Son of Semele, Hollywood Fringe). Other LA directing work includes Lend Me a Tenor at the Lee Strasberg Institute and The Fantasticks and For This Moment Alone at LAPC Theatre. As a Creative Consultant, he has worked with Miss Prissy and her street dance company The Underground, Rosanna Gamson Worldwide, and with the Creative Entertainment division of Walt Disney Imagineering, where he has developed large scale live events. His stage work with the internal Ernst & Young band “American P.I.” helped them to win the 2011 Battle of the Corporate Bands at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Deemed a “master of mayhem” by The New York Times, his writing and directing work is known for its spectacular vision, controlled chaos, imaginative physicality, dark humor, heightened theatricality and high stakes tension. As a playwright, director and producer in New York, he spent six years as an artist-in-residence at Richard Foreman’s Ontological Theater where he mounted many highly-acclaimed original plays and was a co-founder of the Obie Award-winning Blueprint Series.
As an actor, he is a member of the Obie Award-winning company Elevator Repair Service, with whom he performed in Total Fictional Lie, Room Tone, and originated the role of Tom Buchanan in Gatz — a complete staging of the entire text of “The Great Gatsby.” With ERS and Gatz he has played Off Broadway and on the West End in London, and in major festivals and theaters in the U.S, all over Europe and across the globe. After its sold-out Off-Broadway run, who called it “[t]he most remarkable achievement in theater not only of this year but also of this decade…” He has also performed in three plays written and directed by Richard Foreman at the legendary Ontological-Hysteric Theater in New York. He has performed Off-Broadway with Axis Company and in dance-theater works by Bessie award-winners David Neumann and Big Dance Theater.
As a filmmaker, he has written, directed, produced and edited the films The Invincible Ecksteins, The Blue Horizon, Speed Freaks and several shorts, including Undone, which is currently in post-production. His film The Armed Boy— a silent film created to accompany Karl Jenkin’s modern choral mass “The Armed Man”—was commissioned by the Rackham Symphony Choir in Detroit. As a film actor, he has played lead roles in Speed Freaks, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness (opposite Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays) and The Strange Case of Marie France, as well as featured roles in other films.
As an acting teacher he has taught popular Scene Study classes in New York City and in Los Angeles, most notably at CalArts, where he taught BFA and MFA actors, and overhauled the graduating actor industry showcase. In LA, he has also taught acting at the legendary Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, at Pierce College, and currently at Los Angeles Mission College. In 2006 he founded ACME Acting Lab in New York, a student-driven acting studio devoted to the creation of professionally produced original plays and films. With his ACME students, he created, produced and directed two plays and two featurette films. In 2013, he founded Studio Cucuzza in Los Angeles.
Originally from Bradford, PA, Cucuzza is a 1990 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University where he received a BFA in Literary and Cultural Studies with a minor in Theatre. He holds a 2011 MFA in Directing from CalArts. He was the recipient of a 1990 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for a one-year independent study of experimental theater in Europe and a 2010-11 recipient of a Beutner Family Award for Excellence in the Arts at CalArts.