Interview with Steve Galluccio
Screenwriter and Playwriter
On The “Write” Track to Life
Everyone is familiar with Mambo Italiano, Steve Galluccio’s well – known play, which was later adapted to the big screen. It is a semi -autobiographical comedy about a young man in Montreal who comes out as gay to his Italian family.
Other films include Surviving My Mother, (Comment survivire à sa mère), Funky Town, Little Italy, as well as a television series, Ciao Bella and theatrical plays, In Piazza San Domenico and the St. Leonard Chronicles.
His husband, Yves Dionne, who passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in 2020, is in part the basis for his play, “At the Beginning of Time.”
When did you discover your passion for writing?
I always knew since I was a kid that I wanted to become a writer. It became crystal clear in high school, but I just didn’t know how I was going to do it. When I went to the movie theatres or watched television, I would think this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a screen writer or a movie writer but not a literal writer. I wasn’t a big book reader, but I was a big consumer of TV, videos and movies.
I knew I wanted to to be a writer, where my work would be presented in front of an audience, whether it was a tv show, theatre, movie or something live. I wanted an audience to react to my writing.
Being from an immigrant family, we really didn’t go to the theatre, so I just fell into theatre as it came later; actually that’s where my writing started and where I’m most active.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Most of my inspirations and ideas come from real life as well as from the people I’ve met growing up with an Italian background and being gay. Most of my work is personal, unless I’m hired to do something else.
What is the hardest part of writing?
It is the actual sitting down and writing. I’ve been writing now for 30 years (22 yrs professionally). It’s basically work. If I have a deadline, I remain razor focused and end up doing it; if not, I’ll end up procrastinating.
Do you find writing therapeutic?
In my case, extremely therapeutic. I write about my life so it’s very personal, especially the last play I wrote, which is going to be presented next year.
It becomes very cathartic. It’s my way of dealing with life issues. I really don’t hold back and it’s honest writing. Most works, when based on personal stories and true emotions, make for better shows, like Euphoria or My Brilliant Friend. In my case, I was encouraged to write about being an Italian gay man; best to stick to what you know.
What would you say is the key for living in difficult times?
Because of the pandemic, everything was off kilter and upside down. It has been a tough time for everyone, including artists.
I’m sixty – one years old and the longer you live, the more tragedies you have lived through because that’s just the way life is.
What pulls me through, is that I don’t keep anything in and I live my tragedies out loud.
If I’m in a bad place, I’m in a bad place. If I feel like crying, I’ll cry.
My husband passed away in 2020. He was very ill. In 2018, he was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of Alzheimer’s. It was very difficult, but what does one do?
You either bury yourself in your house or you just go on. I became caretaker to my husband. I had to deal with a new facet of our relationship when he moved to a CHSLD, a long term care facility. Thank God, he was a happy Alzheimer’s patient, so it was a good thing he didn’t really know what was going on.
Then Covid hit and I couldn’t go see him. I got through it knowing that, with experience, you know that you’ll come out on the other side. I thrived and I continued living. It wasn’t easy and it was very sad, but you have to make the conscious choice of letting go and moving on as bizarrely as you can, because nothing is ever the same.
I have lived through experiences that have marked me and that will be with me forever. It was horrific to see your life partner degenerating and knowing that the final destination is death; it’s the hardest thing to go through, but you go through it.
I now have a new life partner, but it doesn’t stop me from thinking of my first husband every day.
You just live, there’s no right way of doing it, and it’s different for everyone.
Make the choice to keep your heart open and still believe in life. It’s worth living.
Being in this business, you become a strong person as you get used to dealing with rejections over and over again. Even if you are successful, that’s what helps you develop your strength.
When you get rejected, you still have to go on. You ask yourself, what do I do now? You find the answer and you go on.
What can you share with others going through the grieving process?
First of all, you have to go through it 100%, you cannot deny it.
Then you need to seek help. You are not alone.
In my case, I needed help, professional help from a psychologist that guides you along the process.
There was help from family and friends but they are not equipped to help you and sometimes they can cause more damage; the last thing you need is, “poor you”. That’s the worst thing to do because you’ll end up feeling like “poor you” and you won’t be able to get on in life.
There’s no right way of grieving but everyone should seek help as they go through the process.
How do we fix the broken spirit in today’s world?
I’m not a pessimist or optimist, I’m a realist. It’s not half empty or half full. It’s just half a glass of water; there’s no problem, no debate ; that’s reality.
I believe that human beings are not bad or good, they just are who they are.
To believe that from now on that everything is going to be OK, that’s not true and that’s not how life works. There’s always going to be a bump in the road. Things go wrong. For example the plague, war, etc…stuff happens.
The best way is to keep your guard up. Be realistic.
Covid showed us how a pandemic became politicized and had us at each other’s throats.
Innately, humanity does not change, that’s the way it is and that’s the bigger picture.
I remember reading an article about Cyndi Lauper. She didn’t want to do what the record company wanted her to do and after that, she went down. But I always remember what she said, “Don’t let anybody break your spirit”.
When broken, for whatever reason, I always think to myself, if you decide to stay in the house, you’ll let that force win; don’t let them win, fight for it.
What is your superpower?
My resilience. Always change from, “I can’t do this” to “I can do this.”
What is your kypronite?
My anxiety and hypochrondria, which I inherited from my parents.
What was the best advice you ever got?
My best advice I ever got was from a screen writing teacher at Concordia for a creative writing workshop. One day, he asked me to meet him in his office after class. He told me I was a very talented writer. He said “From this day on, your full time job is to be a writer and never let anyone tell you you’re not, even if you have to go on welfare, you continue writing. This is your job.”
What is the best you can give advice to others?
Do whatever you want to do, no matter how many naysayers there are in your life.
Don’t take no for an answer. Continue on, because life is too short.
When you’re young, you think you have a lot of time ahead of you.
Whatever you want to, just go for it now and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.
Never get to that point in your life where you have to say, “I should have done that”.
Also, give up the notion of being happy 24 hours a day, all the time.
Realize that there will be good and bad times, happy and sad times.
What brings you joy?
My experience with my first husband changed me a lot. If you asked me ten years ago, I would have said my work brings me joy, but now, my biggest joy is just wanting to spend time with my husband as we grow old together and enjoy the simple stuff in life.
If you were granted 3 wishes right now, what would they be?
1. I would like to have enough money, so I don’t have to worry about it.
2. I want good health until the day I die.
3. I would love a good night’s sleep, like 7-8 hours straight. I always envy people that can sleep straight through the night. I can still function but I have a hard time falling asleep, because things keep going through my mind. My mom told me as a young boy I was always a bad sleeper.
Mille grazie, Steve.
If you would like to catch some of Steve Galluccio’s work, watch the Canadian TV series,
Pillow Talk on Crave, an adaptation of the French language series, Entre Deux Draps.
Also, stay tuned for a play coming out next year. Looking forward to it!