Share / Discuss

Best Supportive Actor

Compassionate Chameleon

An only child, Dante Anthony Fuoco ’12 loved when his parents let him watch Saturday Night Live.

“Playing characters and making people laugh stuck with me,” he says. “I invented eight different brothers, each with their own idiosyncrasies. I could play each at the drop of a hat.”

After graduating from Swarthmore and moving to New Orleans, Fuoco flexed his performance muscles in local improv classes, creating a solo sketch parodying Teach for America, the very program that brought him to the city. The piece was the product of his critical reflection on his place in a post-Katrina New Orleans.   

“The more I learned, the more ashamed I was of my privilege as a gentrifier, a white man, a transplant,” Fuoco says. “I wondered: How can I put down roots in a city that’s maybe better off without me?”

Such was the inspiration for Transplant, his darkly comic solo show. From a conflicted yuppie craving artisinal kombucha to a bombastic ally for people of color, Fuoco plays a dozen characters in 75 minutes, tapping into the best and worst aspects of himself while experiencing New Orleans—and life—in all its joy and pain.

It resonates with his day job—Fuoco teaches elementary-age kids with severe emotional and behavioral disabilities at the New Orleans Therapeutic Day Program. The strength and flexibility required from students and teachers alike has put into relief why creating meaningful, honest moments onstage and off matters so much to him.

“The goal of teaching and the goal of performing are the same: connection. You have to make yourself vulnerable,” he says. “It takes courage, but in an increasingly fractured and broken world, it’s absolutely necessary.”