Fugues - - Arts & Icons -

Mon­treal play­wright Steve Gal­luc­cio is so ta­len­ted that none other than Que­bé­cois li­te­ra­ry icon Mi­chel Trem­blay trans­la­ted Gal­luc­cio’s hit play Mam­bo Ita­lia­no for La Com­pa­gnie Jean-Du­ceppe in 2001, be­fore Mam­bo be­came the most suc­cess­ful lo­cal En­glish-lan­guage play from Mon­treal in al­most half a cen­tu­ry — and the most suc­cess­ful ever in the his­to­ry of the Cen­taur Theatre. Then his 2013 play The St. Leo­nard Ch­ro­nicles qui­ck­ly be­came the se­cond-most suc­cess­ful play at the Cen­taur. This month Steve re­turns to La Com­pa­gnie Jean-Du­ceppe, where it all real­ly be­gan, with his new play Les se­crets de la Pe­tite Ita­lie, which fea­tures trans cha­rac­ter Iva­na who holds the key to a fa­mi­ly se­cret. Steve and I re­cent­ly sat down for a can­did Q&A. Why did you write Les se­crets de la Pe­tite Ita­lie?

Af­ter the French ver­sion of The St. Leo­nard Ch­ro­nicles pre­mie­red at Théâtre Jean-Du­ceppe in 2014, (then-ar­tis­tic di­rec­tor) Mi­chel Du­mont told me, “I want your next play.” So I said sure! I had an idea for a play with a trans cha­rac­ter. I have known ma­ny trans people in my life, es­pe­cial­ly in the 1980s, and it was al­ways a world that fas­ci­na­ted me. I star­ted wri­ting this play long be­fore we be­gan ha­ving our trans mo­ment. I ask what if your Ita­lian son is real­ly your daugh­ter, how would the fa­mi­ly react? It is my first trans cha­rac­ter and, to my know­ledge, one of the first Ita­lian trans cha­rac­ters you will see ons­tage. Du­ceppe is your home.

Yes, it is. But Cen­taur is like a home al­so. Can you up­date us on the Broad­way mu­si­cal adap­ta­tion of Mam­bo Ita­lia­no? I’ve been as­ked not to dis­cuss it. Your up­co­ming film Lit­tle Ita­ly stars Hay­den Ch­ris­ten­sen and Dan­ny Aiel­lo. Is Hay­den as hot off-screen as he is on, and what was it like to meet Dan­ny Aiel­lo? Hay­den is so good-loo­king, ve­ry nice and he’s half-Ita­lian! I al­so met Dan­ny who co-star­red in my fa­vou­rite mo­vie, Moons­truck. I am ra­re­ly star struck, but Dan­ny is a great ac­tor, and he came up to me (on the set) and gave me a big hug and told me how thril­led he was to meet me! That was sur­real. You can be such an en­ter­tai­ning bitch on so­cial me­dia. But you have al­so writ­ten sen­si­tive and thought­ful posts about your bat­tle with an­xie­ty. I was diag­no­sed with ago­ra­pho­bia when I was 17. I had my first pa­nic at­tack in the se­cond grade. So I have been on (me­di­ca­tion) to con­trol my an­xie­ty since I was 6 or 7. In my teens my ago­ra­pho­bia be­came so bad I was unable to leave the house. (La­ter I be­came) ad­dic­ted to pills. Now I take Ri­vo­tril, but I be­gan cut­ting down un­der me­di­cal su­per­vi­sion in 2016 af­ter a trip to New York: I re­mem­ber coun­ting my pills and had just en­ough for the trip and a couple days af­ter. I thought, “What if I’m stuck in New York a couple of ex­tra days, what will I do?” That’s when I rea­li­zed I am so ad­dic­ted to these pills and I don’t want to be. I said to my­self, “Steve, you’re in your fif­ties, you’re too old for this.” That’s when I star­ted cut­ting down. I de­ci­ded to post a Fa­ce­book sta­tus about this and the reac­tion was un­be­lie­va­bly positive, and I hope it hel­ped chip away at the stig­ma that still sur­rounds men­tal ill­ness. You are out and proud.

You make me think of Mam­bo Ita­lia­no and the im­pact it had. I still get feed­back from people all over the world, es­pe­cial­ly youn­ger gays than­king me for hel­ping them come out. It’s as­to­ni­shing. I am proud to be a gay man, and that play is one of my prou­dest mo­ments. 6 RI­CHARD BURNETT LES SE­CRETS DE LA PE­TITE ITA­LIE runs at La Com­pa­gnie Jean-Du­ceppe from Oc­to­ber 25 to De­cem­ber 2. For ti­ckets, vi­sit du­

Read Burnett’s na­tio­nal queer-is­sues co­lumn Three Dol­lar Bill on­line at www.bug­sbur­­

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