By: Max Mehran
As the buzzing of the Fringe Bees is felt more and more in the air, I met with Luigi Buffone, first-time director and producer who is putting on his original play, Leave the Therapy, Take the Cannoli, playing at this year’s St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. Here is all you need to know about this play that will serve you humor, Italian-ness, and cannoli!
[QDF] Tell us about Leave the Therapy Take the Cannoli.
[Luigi] The play is very simple. It’s about an Italian family that has issues, and they decide to work them out by going to therapy. They are a little bit hesitant because they never went to therapy before, and Sal one of the sons convinces his family to go to family therapy. The whole show is about them going to three different sessions of therapy where a lot of things come up in discussions that usually is never mentioned between the Family. They also all work together at their family business, a restaurant, which is why they have a lot of fights.
[QDF] Tell us about the title and why you chose it?
[Luigi] First of all, Italians are all about food. The idea for the title came from the movie “The Godfather” during one of the scenes …”Leave the gun take the cannoli”. In times of stress what better way to relieve it but by eating…..“Leave the Therapy . Take the Cannoli”. Food solves anything.
[QDF] Great, now tell us about your journey from the conception of the play to today, being featured at the Festival?
[Luigi] This is a play that I have been thinking about writing for a long time. Although I am not a writer, I had this idea for the longest time, and I just found the concept of having an Italian family going to therapy funny. I can see my own family going there and imagine what could be said. Since I am not a writer, I asked my friend Natalie Darbyson to come and help me write it. I gave her the idea and what I wanted in the play, and she put everything together and more. Alex Haber who also contributed to the script suggested to try out at the Fringe festival. I had been once before and thought it would be a great opportunity. We submitted the play in the fringe lottery and were lucky enough to get in. It has been a great process since; everything is going well.
[QDF] You mention you had this idea for a long time. How did you come up with it? Is it somewhat autobiographical?
[Luigi] Although my family never went to therapy, there is a lot of things in there that come from my own experience. Let me give you an example. The father character, after the therapist asks him about his first arrival to Canada, tells pretty much the same experience as the one my father went through. There is also the character of one of the brother who is an actor, which is what I do. Therefore, there is a little bit of me and my family in the story. I just wanted to have fun with this story and I thought it would be a good thing to show little elements like those ones that people would find interesting. I also thought the whole concept of Italians would be funny. Old world Italians solve their problems by eating, not talking.
[QDF] So, it is your first time producing and participating at the Fringe. Tell us how does it make you feel?
[Luigi] It’s been great. I didn’t know really what was going to happen, and it’s been very, very exciting. Everybody in the cast is very excited. The Fringe team has been super helpful. I really like the way they help the artist go through whatever you need to go through. For example, I have been to all the workshops, which are very helpful as they really take the time to show people how best to prepare and to give advice.
[QDF] Would you say the Festival is a safe and support environment to participate in?
[Luigi] Yes, especially for me. Putting on a show through the festival is a big thing because we get a lot of exposure, and I get to be guided- that’s what I like. I learned things that I never would have thought I could do.
[QDF] Being part of this festival, is there any event you are most looking forward to?
[Luigi]On the days we won’t have a show, I want to walk around and see plays that looked interesting from the program and see what other artists are doing. There is so many events I want to go to that are not only plays, for example the air guitar event seems really fun.
[QDF] How do you feel about directing as a first time director?
[Luigi] I definitely enjoy it. It’s great because I can see my vision being brought to life by these fantastic actors. The only thing I would say is that I am kind a little jealous. (laughs) I would like to jump in with everybody so maybe in the future I can add another character, but I really enjoyed directing. It’s really fun to create something with a great people.
[QDF] What are your hopes for the play in the future?
[Luigi] We have many plans! I want to first of all perform the play in different venues across town. Now that I become close to Mainline, we will definitely try to perform it there. Also, being part of the Fringe brought me close with other artists, so maybe we can partner up and do a double bill event with another short play. We are also working on translating the play in French: it could be funny and reach another market. We plan to play it not only in Montreal, maybe on the South-Shore and other outskirts of Montreal in places where they don’t have theatre, maybe tour a little bit. It’s definitely not going to be put to rest after the festival is over.
[QDF] Great, so you’ll keep busy. What’s your feeling like today, are you excited?
[Luigi] Very excited.Everyday, I wake up feeling good. My wife always says that whenever I do something, I tend to be quickly consumed by it, and this is what’s happening. (laughs)
[QDF] Great, you look excited, which is great to see! Any last note you want to share with us?
[Luigi] This has been a great experience. It’s been very fun and heartwarming. It is not just a comedy; there is a lot of themes in the play I think people are going to enjoy. I also want to mention to any artists out there, is that I strongly suggest participating in the next Fringe because it’s a great and helpful experience that isn’t threatening at all. It is very inspiring. They make it easy for us to have a great experience.
I can feel Luigi’s excitement to showcase the hard work of him and his actors on the stage of the Fringe this week, and it is heartwarming to see the sparkles in his eyes. Thank you to Luigi for taking the time to meet with the QDF and share some insights of Leave the Therapy Take the Cannoli and his experience at the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. Find out more about the play here.