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Cock - Off-Broadway

Mike Bartlett's new play examining one man's bisexuality.

Newcomer Cory Michael Smith Reflects on His 'Intimate' Sex Scene in Cock

Newcomer Cory Michael Smith Reflects on His 'Intimate' Sex Scene in Cock
Cory Michael Smith photographed by Jenny Anderson for Broadway.com
To hear two people being intimate is a whole other color than watching people have sex.

Age & Hometown: 25; Columbus, Ohio

Current Role: The conflicted protagonist John, who must choose between the boyfriend he needs and the girlfriend he loves, in the off-Broadway production of Mike Barlett’s Olivier Award-winning play Cock.

Spell That: For this theatrical newbie, the starring role in Cock was almost the part that got away. It wasn't until Michael Esper dropped out to do The Lyons that Smith was cast. “I love this play,” the young actor says simply. “The way that these three people are speaking to one another and what they are talking about is really exciting, and I love John because he is very human and very flawed.” After getting the good news, Smith called his parents back in the Midwest. “I said, ‘I’ve been cast in a play Mom and Dad!’” he recalls with a laugh. “They said, ‘What is it?’ ‘Cock.’ My dad said, ‘Wait, can you spell that?’ Then, of course they were like, ‘Please tell me this is a legitimate theater job,’ and I said ‘Yes, it won a Olivier Award!’”

Sex in the Arena: Cock is played in a fully lit amphitheater-type space within the tiny Duke Theatre—much like the venue for a cockfight—so the audience becomes a participant. “It’s one of the most collective theater experiences I’ve ever had,” Smith reflects of a play that includes a unique sex scene in which he and co-star Amanda Quaid create erotic sparks in spite of the fact that they never touch. “It’s a reminder how beautiful sex is and how it takes all of our body to do it,” he says. “To hear two people being intimate is a whole other color than watching people have sex.” Still, Smith admits, the audience's reactions to the scene can be distracting: “It is interesting to let my eyes wander to different couples. There’s a line I say, ‘I didn’t think there’d be so much hair,’ and one couple started laughing hysterically. I was like, ‘I do and do not want to know the story behind that!’” 

A Higher Calling: Before joining Cock, Smith appeared in the Denver premiere of The Whale and the off-Broadway musical The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World, though he wasn’t always sure acting was the right career path. “I went through a lot of occupations,” he says of aspirations ranging from concert pianist to lawyer. “I was questioning my contribution to the world. I am not interested in entertaining people. I think being an actor provides an opportunity to give people an experience they can connect to, reflect on, learn from, laugh at.” Catching himself, Smith adds with a laugh, “I take things a little too seriously sometimes.” In October, the busy young actor will co-star in Playwrights Horizons’ off-Broadway production of The Whale. “It’s amazing,” he says. “It’s about a 600-pound man at the end of his life who is inspired to reconnect with his estranged daughter. I play a Mormon missionary, and I am on my own spiritual quest throughout the play. It’s hilarious, and really tragic and brutal—those are the kinds of plays I love.”
 

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