Posted on: April 28, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by Jason Suwaidan

By Lily Legeska, JRN 111 Student

Humans are not cars. That is the ground-breaking conclusion Moraine Valley actor Joe Gomez has come up with, at least. 

“The car cannot do anything other than be subject to nature, without a person in it to turn the wheel,” Gomez says. “Inside of us humans, there is something powering us.” 

That “something,” that soul, is what drives us to create art, which enlivens and beautifies our lives. Gomez sees art as making humanity better because it makes us different from everything around us. It drives us to keep going beyond just eat, sleep, breathe, repeat.

Gomez, 20, is currently bringing his art to life as one of the leads in Moraine Valley’s production of “Eurydice” by Sarah Ruhl. He is cast as A Nasty Interesting Man/The Lord of the Underworld, a role that brings out both his comic and his fearsome sides.

Joe Gomez performs in a production at Stagg High School.

Gomez realized his passion for acting when he was a little kid. He and his family would sit down every night and watch a different film. Absolutely enraptured by what seemingly was real, he felt drawn to be a part of the creative process of filmmaking–to become one of the people who turn a script into reality. 

“They are grown adults playing pretend in front of a camera,” he says, “with a bunch of other weirdos around them creating a fantasy world. Well, in a way it really is real.”  

With a philosophical mind, Gomez has lots of big ideas that he wants to get out into the world. Every time he speaks, it feels like he is saying something that is critically important to him, and he can’t wait to let it out.

“I’m breaking out in a sweat,” he says during an interview in a study room at the public library, as he jumps up to write one of his ideas on the board.

Gomez believes the world is a “left-brained,” dark, mechanical place. He sees humans as machines who want to eat, sleep, reproduce, and have some sense of security. 

But that’s where our souls come in to give us our uniqueness and a passion to apply that uniqueness to the world. In Gomez’s view, everything is logistical. The paint is a color. The canvas is a texture. The paintbrush is a tool to apply it. And if you apply enough of it in a certain way, it makes you feel something. 

Gomez expresses his take on an artist’s struggle to get their feelings out into the world: Humans must resort to physical, logistical, left-brained tactics to express an emotional, vibrational, colorful, beautiful story. 

In Moraine’s production of “Boy” earlier this semester, Gomez helped tell the emotional story of a boy who has his genitals seared off and grows up contemplating whether he’s truly a girl. Gomez played the father of the central character.

Photo by Jason Suwaidan

He rehearsed his scenes hundreds of times and performed the play five times before on his sixth show date, he cried real tears. 

“I’d never done it before, and I was so shocked I could do that,” he said.

To immerse himself into a role, Gomez has his own meditative process to clear his own energy out and replace it with the energy of whomever he is about to become. 

“I hate making decisions on stage,” Gomez says. “I like to just be–not thinking about what my character is going to do, but just be the character and do.” 

He sits down before he goes into a scene and rubs the negative energy out of his body. When he feels the negative energy clustered into his frame, he pulls it out from his hands and sinks it out into the earth. As the energy dissolves into the dirt, Gomez says he is “born again,” ready to “walk the earth as a new person.” 

Then he begins imagining his character’s 360-degree views–top, down, left, right. He takes all the character’s scenes, all the memories that aren’t even included in the script, and compresses them from a gigantic view to an “anatomical particle,” which Gomez imagines as a virus cell inserted into his brain and then expanding into his body. 

Right now, I want to see what I am capable of. I don’t even care about anyone else; I want to see where the limit is, and I haven’t come close to finding it.

Joe Gomez, MV actor

To prepare for a role, Gomez is willing to go so far as to put on weight. He will then drop that same couple of pounds for the next show. He’ll even shave his head if asked. 

He is proud of his growth as an actor since his days performing at A.A. Stagg High School, when he says he would “put on a funny voice, memorize the lines, and that’s it. That was the character.”  

Looking to the future, Gomez does not know if he wants to be rich and famous—because acting is his superpower, not time travel nor telling the future. 

“Right now, I want to see what I am capable of,” he says. “I don’t even care about anyone else; I want to see where the limit is, and I haven’t come close to finding it.”