MONTRÉAL À LA STEVE GALLUCCIO
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 duceppe.com.
Read Burnett’s national queer-issues column Three Dollar Bill online at www.bugsburnett.blogspot.com.