Topher Cusumano has been frightening his peers and worrying his parents since 1987. A playwright, performance artist, and digital content creator, Topher began his career in the arts seventeen years ago when he appeared Off-Broadway in the Jean Cocteau Rep’s revival of Waiting for Godot. From that point on Topher worked regularly as a stage and screen actor, including his role as Melvin the Medieval Kid in the 2001 cult sensation Wet Hot American Summer.
By his mid-teens, Topher found himself stuck in what his agents referred too as “an awkward period.” With no acting jobs in sight, Topher began writing and performing angsty spoken word poetry in cafes and venues around the North East. As he matured, so did his writing, and by 2005 Topher caught the attention of poet, activist, and Def Poetry Jam cast member, Bassey Ikpi. Under Ikpi’s mentorship Topher began to flourish as a writer, and soon his work was being featured on Indiefeed: Performance Poetry, the number one poetry podcast on iTunes.
In 2009 Topher returned to the theater with his solo-performance Roughhouse, which examines the intersections of masculinity and violence through spoken word and multimedia. Roughhouse was first produced as a part of Stage Left Studio’s Left Out Festival, and won critical praise, including nytheatre.com, which wrote, “Cusumano is a compelling and original artist. He presents difficult, controversial concepts that disturb our world view—performance art at its best.” Topher continues to work closely with the studio’s owner/creative director Cheryl King.
From 2010-2012 Topher served as playwright & performer in residence for Coffee Black Productions under the leadership of Michael Bloom and Carrie Boehm. During his tenure with CBP, Topher developed several new works including his retelling of the Persephone myth, Stealing Season, directed by Bobbi Masters, as well as his two-act comedy Getting Away With Mother, directed by Michael Bloom. Getting Away With Mother would go on to be produced in 2012 as a staged reading at Stage Left Studio starring Cheryl King and Joe Hutchison, under the direction of Toni Silver.
A graduate of West Chester University of Pennsylvania with a B.A in Theatre, Topher is currently working toward his M.F.A in Dramatic Writing at Savannah College of Art & Design.