Lucia Frangione is my hero. I’ve said it many times. After reading this, I think she will be yours, too.
1. I am…. Lucia Frangione
2. Author of… twenty-five plays
3. The first thing I ever wrote was… my first publication was at the age of 16, a poem called, “the whole world is beautiful, right Papa?” He used to say that to me, sarcastically. It was the first and last time I wrote about my early childhood.
4. I knew I wanted to be a writer when…
My Uncle “Dud” came to visit us for long periods of time. He called himself this because he was gay. It was his little joke. He had a pencil thin moustache, white hair, white shoes, wore white pant suits with gold or bright orange button down shirts. He looked like an angelic Ernest Hemingway. He drove a white convertible VW rabbit and lived in a white and gold laden apartment by the ocean. He was a pilot in WW2, he was articulate and elegant. He traveled around around the world, bringing me back little soaps from all the hotels. He was the most exotic person in my life. One day while going on about the beautiful boys of Fiji to my uncomfortable mother…he looked over at what I was scribbling at the other end of the kitchen table. He asked to read it. He didn’t have much time for children so I was very surprised. It was a poem about golden fields or some such. He read it, he laid it down, surprised, and said, “Cia, I think you’re a writer.” Then I was asked to send him my poetry by mail throughout the years. When he died I inherited one of his gold and yellow tea cups that I now use as my “writer’s cup.” I also discovered, when he died, that he was a monster. He had done monstrous things. So, not only did he encourage me as a writer, he reminds me that within every character there is an angel and there is a beast. It’s that investigation into the human spirit and all its possibilities that continues to drive me forward.
5. My first writing success was….
I was a bit of a hot shot kid. I had my first play produced at the age of eighteen and by the time I was twenty five I had nine plays produced, a hit show that toured the fringe called Holy Mo and I was running the brand new Chemainus Theatre as the artistic director. I owned a home, I was surrounded by colleagues and friends, I had just finished my first very successful season. Life was amazing. In one month everything went to hell. Basically, two men wanted my job (an executive director that over saw the entire complex that I rendered redundant, and a contracted director who wanted to be AD) and they lobbied to a sexist board that women weren’t “meant to be leaders” and that I made “emotional decisions” instead of logical ones due to my gender. There was even a complaint that I wore dresses to work in order to “seduce” my male co-workers. Never mind general manager, Jodie LaRiviere and I had just doubled attendance and cut our budget in half and got the theatre running as a professional house for the first time in its history. The exec director took credit for that. I was forced to resign, I lost everything. I suggested Jeremy Tow as my replacement. They ignored me. Eventually all the assholes were fired, the board got juggled, I got a full apology and Jeremy did finally take the helm. At that point the theatre got back on track and become the lovely place it is today and I still work with them, proudly. It was a short dark blip in their history and a few of us got hit very hard with it. But…I went back to school (studio 58) I started producing my own work. I learned resilience.
6. Who were your influences?
Dostoyevsky, Tennessee Williams and Aaron Bushkowsky. Still are. No one uses language like Aaron.
7. Describe your writing process.
I write at least one hour a day as a kind of meditation. This is my blog. If I am specifically working at completing a draft, I write about five hours in that day. I get up every fifteen minutes or so to stretch my legs, go for a walk, clean the house, do a load of laundry. I usually have fresh flowers beside me. I am by a window. I have a good cup of espresso. I work from home on the computer. I write about three projects at once. I work on something for two weeks and then I switch to the next play and work on that for two weeks – etc. It’s a way to keep the work flowing and still give a piece fallow time. I produce one play a year on average.
8. What does success as a writer look like to you? Do you think you are successful?
Success is when someone says to me, “This play changed my life”. I can die tomorrow knowing I have contributed because I have heard that a number of times. And you never know what is going to hit someone. I have heard that phrase about the plays I feel are my best, Espresso and Leave of Absence, but I have also heard that around plays I was utterly embarrassed by because I thought they were so poorly written: MMM and Mistletoads.
Basically, if you are called to write something, it means there is someone out there who needs to hear it. And if you don’t – then it leaves a vacuum where your courage should have been.
9. What does the future look like? What are you working on?
I am building up my TV and film spec scripts to chase a film agent and make a move into writing for other mediums as well as theatre. If I could just stick to theatre, I would. But living in Vancouver is not sustainable. But there’s no way I’m moving to Ontario. So, currently I am learning how to write in a four act and teaser structure and how to embrace things like blood, zombies and impossibly beautiful young world savers.
10. Which famous writer would you like to write your biography?
I’ll write my own story. I always have. But Denis Ilic can take the pictures. He’s brilliant.
You can read more of Lucia’s work at luciafrangione.com.