It was a need he had to fill.
Romeo Ciolfi isn’t a playwright because he couldn’t think of anything better to tell his high school guidance counsellor.
He isn’t a playwright for the fame and he definitely isn’t in it for the money.
Ciolfi is a playwright because he had to be. If he were anything else, he wouldn’t be himself, the 38-year-old midtown resident says.
“I write to find peace within myself,” he says. “My writing keeps me hopeful.”
Ciolfi unearths elements of his own personality that might have remained under wraps if he hadn’t created a character possessing those same qualities.
“They end up saying these profound things, which would have never come from me had I not sat down and written it,” he admits between rehearsals for his latest play, Blue, on at Bloor St. West’s The Village Playhouse, June 17–22.
“I end up getting so much more out of it by watching it if it is a play, or listening to a reading with actors,” he continues. “Sometimes it astounds me.
“Not that I pat myself on the back and say, ‘Way to go’. It’s like: ‘I wrote that. I should listen to that a little bit more.’ ”
Blue centres on two brothers and a sister who come together for a festive weekend at the cottage of one of the siblings.
The two-act drama is based on Ciolfi’s own traditional, yet highly artistic Italian family, with fictional elements and colour thrown in for good measure and stage presence.
As the play unfolds, family secrets are revealed and the siblings’ relationships are tested.
“All of my writing is about pain and loss, and where does hope lie in that,” says Ciolfi, who studied his craft at York University, and penned 30 plays and 15 full-length screenplays.
“And it better lie in that, because if you don’t find the hope, then the loss becomes meaningless.”
Blue is produced by Cloud 9 Co-op and Studio Speranza, Ciolfi’s own writing company, which he founded in January 2008 and named after the Italian word for hope.
Though many of Ciolfi’s plays have been produced, only one short film he wrote years ago has made it onto the silver screen.
That’s where hope comes into play, he says.
“I’m eternally hopeful,” he says. “I’m constantly thinking something will happen, something will change.”
Ciolfi attributes his flair for writing to growing up among artistic siblings. As a child, he made over 30 Super 8 films with his brothers and sister.
To this day the Ciolfi clan is involved in the arts: two of his three brothers work in the industry, and his sister Lisa is the editor of Ciolfi’s writing and an on-again, off-again actor.
Until the day one of his films is produced, Ciolfi says he’ll keep writing, keep entering screenplay competitions and keep staging his plays.
“Creativity is just so limitless,” he says. “I could make any situation true. You just have to let your mind go.”