Steve Galluccio will forgive just about anything – except being bored. Ex-stand-up comic, fringe theatre actor-director-producer, TV and film script writer, and the man behind the mega-hit play and movie Mambo Italiano, Galluccio won’t put up with ennui. In fact, the writer whose In Piazza San Domenico is set to open at Centaur has been known to walk out if something on stage triggers his yawn reflex.
“When I go to the theatre, I don’t like to be bored,” the born-and-bred Montrealer says. “I don’t like plays where the scenes are too long and people get into these conversations and they don’t speak like people do in real life. And it’s just like you know … cut my veins open.
“I went to see a play in New York which won the Pulitzer Prize Off-Broadway and I actually left at intermission because I thought I was going to kill myself. I couldn’t believe that this thing had won a Pulitzer. It was just so fucking boring and it was all political and it was all about … serious … very serious things … When you go to the theatre and you start thinking, that’s not a good thing … you should just be looking at what’s going on on stage. Maybe thinking later but not during. That’s a bad sign.”
That philosophy is reflected quite clearly in his own writing in general and in his latest play in particular. In Piazza San Domenico, which takes place in 1952 in Naples’ most famous city square, has been described as having its roots in Feydeau, Goldoni and the commedia dell’arte, with a touch of French bedroom farce thrown in for good measure. It also has its roots in Galluccio’s own love of the city.
“My parents are from that area,” he says. “From Campania, not too far from Naples. I know the area, the city, the mentality. I also loved all those old movies with Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Marcello Mastroianni. It happens in Naples and everybody is fiery and passionate.
“Everything that was postwar Italy fascinated me because that’s when my parents left. It was also a fascinating time cinematographically. You had neo-realism and you had wonderful comedies, and you had all this sudden Hollywood interest in Italy. I’d just done Funkytown, which was a movie with an edge and quite dark. So I wanted to do a comedy and I’ve always wanted to write for Loren when she was young and for Mastroianni.”
Although not quite admitting that this type of writing is a form of therapy, Galluccio does say that he was going through a difficult time while writing it.
“That was kind of my exit, my escape,” he says. “So I wanted it to be as light as possible and it’s very quick-paced. People coming in and out and in and out because I wanted to get myself away from what I was going through.
“It just happened that, when I re-read it, I said: ‘This is very Feydeau. Very Goldoni.’ When we were doing the auditions, we had to audition the actors for two or three scenes because no scene was long enough to really get a feel for what the actor was about.”
Following the writing/production of In Piazza, Galluccio is taking a break from other projects, at least until the play has its Centaur run. But that doesn’t mean he’s not keeping busy. In Piazza is already set for a French run next year in a Michel Tremblay translation and Galluccio’s Funkytown movie is due for release in the summer of 2010. As well, there’s the possibility Mambo might be done as an Off-Broadway musical, and a TV series about an Italian family is in development.
In Piazza San Domenico opens the Centaur Theatre’s 2009-2010 season, October 6. See Centaur for details. At the same time, catch paparazzi Ron Galella’s Viva L’Italia exhibit of photographs featuring Italian and Italian-American stars taken over a period of 50 years – at the Centaur from Oct 6–Dec. 6.