John directed Frank Gilroy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama The Subject Was Roses which Backstage praised for its “compelling depth, strong performances and vigorous portrayals.” Talkin’ Broadway said “Capo has directed the production thoughtfully and created with his actors a number of sublimely moving moments. This The Subject Was Roses is relevant and worth savoring while it lasts.” OOBR praised the “outstanding directing” and called the production “highly recommended.” The following year, he directed Terrence McNally’s showbiz farce It’s Only A Play. Talkin’ Broadway said “Capo’s portrayal and choice of shows proves he's more than willing to tackle unusual challenges.” Theatre Resources Unlimited said “The multi-talented Capo captures a dark, quirky quality that works quite well.” The production was praised as “remarkably solid” (Theatermania) and for its “welcome hilarity” (NYTheatre.com).
That same year, John’s first play Tricks of the Trade premiered at Greenwich Village’s famed Duplex. The Drama Review said "Capo's witty and topical writing is at its best when it bounces and lashes from the mouths of his characters while simultaneously weighted down by an unbearable yet identifiable angst. With all its angst, shame and guilt disguised by wit, humor and sex, Tricks of the Trade is a telling and timely love story.” NYTheatre.com said “Capo is not afraid to push the envelope. He has written many cutting and topical jokes that kept the audience laughing throughout.” The Blade said “Capo is onto something. He conveys—without directly saying so—a sense of foreboding about the future of their lives in the face of an Orwellian never-ending war on terror, ever-diminishing job prospects and a been-there-done-that world-weary culture.”
He is the author of four other plays that have been produced in New York: Things Beautiful and Wrong for 24 Hour Plays, Endings, The Last Moment of the Rest of Your Life and Extreme Duress, which won John the distinction of Best Brooklyn Writer by BrooklynOne Film + Theater. Other directing credits include ‘night, Mother, The Vagina Monologues, Mommies’ Boys, Adjustment Reaction to Adolescence (with Displaced Aggression) and Around the Block.
He attended the film and theater conservatory at SUNY Purchase, where he graduated with a B.F.A. in dramatic writing and studied with Lloyd Richards, A. Dean Bell, J. D. Zeik, Ed Pomerantz and Eric Mandelbaum. He is a proud member of the Writers Guild of America East.
On September 8, 2011, John will be premiering his new drama series "The RAs" on iTunes. The cast features, among many others, Broadway star Jackie Hoffman. According to press notes, the show is described as follows: September 8, 1999. In the wake of Columbine, the death of Matthew Shepard and the Lewinsky scandal and on the heels of O.J., McVeigh and the Gulf War, six juniors at an elite performing arts college in Westchester County, New York struggle to survive in the face of a never-ending battle with sex, drugs, dating, loneliness and regret. The RAs is the story of a generation – one that predates Facebook, a generation of beepers and chat rooms, when life was simpler but no less complicated and September 11 was just another day. Watch "The RAs" on iTunes or at http://www.WatchTheRAs.com beginning September 8 and follow them on Facebook and Twitter (@WatchTheRAs).
1. Who or what inspired you to become a writer/producer/director? I grew up in a family where it was acceptable to watch pretty much whatever you wanted at any age, so I exposed myself to a lot of different genres early on. Even though traditional 80s children’s entertainment was an important part of my development – I loved The Magic Garden and Pee-wee’s Playhouse and The Goonies – I was never limited to kids stuff. And so I was this eight-year-old watching The Shining over and over, and Little Shop of Horrors, and crazy stuff like Sean Penn in Bad Boys. I think that absolutely opened my mind and helped me think critically about entertainment at a very young age.
2. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? Aaron Sorkin! Could you imagine what that’s like?
3. How did you come up with the concept and title for "The RAs"? The RAs is inspired by my undergraduate experience in the late 1990s/early 2000s at SUNY Purchase, which is this place in the woods in Westchester County, New York where outcasts and the misunderstood go to live and play and make art. I was absolutely one of the more mainstream people there and relatively inexperienced compared to other students like Regina Spektor, who had already released two albums, Mike Maronna, who had his own TV show, and Dan Deacon, who had a following. So needless to say it was a unique place.
I knew I was going to write about college but I wanted nothing to do with a show about pep rallies and keg stands. All of that stuff is covered elsewhere and it would be hard to top the best of it. I wanted to tell a story about what it’s like to go away to school and have a completely great experience yet still encounter rough patches. To experience that growing-up process, enjoy it, and at the same time maybe not know how to handle some aspects of it. People can be very touchy when you explain that something can be both good and difficult. We want our stories in black and white, our heroes and villains carefully delineated. Yet the most dramatic moments in cinema are when the colors run, when secrets are revealed, when the good guy goes bad. Same is true in real life. The four years I spent at Purchase were the best four years of my life. I met people from every corner of the world. I partied like a Kardashian. But I also learned, questioned who I was, pushed myself creatively, felt alone, made mistakes, was scared, alienated people, said the wrong things…I became the person I am today, for better or worse. And stories about college that don’t acknowledge the darker moments are only telling one side of the narrative.
Which is not to say The RAs is an autobiography. Far from it. The RAs isn’t about my roommates or my teachers or my RAs or really about Purchase at all. It’s not even much about me. I’ve taken the overall mood and feel of my college experience, which I consider to be fairly distinctive, and I’ve applied it to a fictitious tale of growing up in the nineties.
You also asked about the title. It’s not a very creative one. It didn’t require much thought. It’s a show about some RAs. What are you going to call it?
4. What is your favorite part about the creative process in putting a project together? Nothing is more exciting than casting because that’s really where it all comes together. You’ve locked yourself in a room and spent months, sometimes years, writing and now it suddenly becomes this public thing that you can’t take back. Don’t get me wrong, it can be incredibly nervewracking on both sides of the table – we saw 155 actors for the six principal roles in The RAs – but it’s without a doubt the precise moment at which a show is made or broken and there’s something very powerful about that.
5. What is your favorite part about the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Working with actors who need minimal direction and who inspire you to write better. And in the case of The RAs, I enjoyed the self-imposed challenge of setting the show in the 90s and getting my very young cast to contemplate a world without Facebook, with minimal cell phone use, and with less emphasis on observing life and more on living it. And lots and lots of flannel.
6. Favorite place to write? My living room because it’s cozy and I can control whether it’s quiet and intimate or loud and alive. When I first started writing I needed absolute silence. Now as things come more instinctively to me I keep the radio on. I do a lot of writing while listening to the Delilah show on 106.7 here in New York. She’ll take a call from a listener whose dog has just died or whose boyfriend is stationed in Iraq and she'll play 'NSYNC's “God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You." It’s an emotional roller coaster I enjoy. I got to meet Delilah a few weeks ago and I thanked her for helping keep my writing so depressing. She signed an autograph that says "Thanks for the tears."
7. Favorite way to stay in shape? I’m not very conscious of this kind of stuff. I own a NordicTrack. Mostly I just try to avoid eating everything in sight.
8. Boxers or Briefs? Boxers. Restriction terrifies me.
9. Favorite website? Does Google count? I’m naturally curious. I google everything. I’m googling a more interesting answer to this question right now.
10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Howard the Duck.
11. What's the best advice you've ever received? Do it yourself. If you can’t do it, learn how to.
12. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I’d probably dream about when my maternal grandparents were younger. They’re in their eighties now and they’re not the same people I grew up with. I would like to have them back.