Vittorio Rossi

Rossi's awakening as a writer came when, as an acting student at Montréal's Dawson College, he was encouraged by his writing instructor, John Lucas, to write about what he knew best - the Italian community in Montréal.


Rossi, Vittorio

 Vittorio Rossi, actor, playwright (b at Montréal 16 April 1961). Vittorio Rossi, whose parents came to Canada from Italy, has played numerous roles on stage and screen but remains best known for his role as detective Tom Celano in the television series Omertà: La loi du silence, which held the highest viewer ratings in Quebec from 1996-98. As a playwright, Rossi is widely considered to be the inaugural Italian-Canadian voice on the English-Canadian stage.

Rossi's awakening as a writer came when, as an acting student at Montréal's Dawson College, he was encouraged by his writing instructor, John Lucas, to write about what he knew best - the Italian community in Montréal. Rossi graduated from Concordia University in 1985 with a bachelor of fine arts in theatre performance and began his playwriting career in 1986, winning the Best New Play Award at the Quebec Drama Festival (QDF) for Little Blood Brother. He won a second QDF award in 1987 for Backstreets, a play that he describes as written "out of pure, unadulterated anger" over the death of his cousin.

Vittorio Rossi's first full-length play, The Chain, broke attendance records in 1988 at CENTAUR THEATRE, English Montréal's main stage. His next play, Scarpone (Italian for "clodhopper"), based on his experience selling shoes, was also a popular success at Centaur. In 1992, Rossi was commissioned by Dawson College's Dome Theatre in Montréal to write In Pursuit of a Cow, a play dealing with the aftermath of a fictional shooting of 2 women in a local bar. His most acclaimed drama, The Last Adam, a powerful Oedipal tragedy, premiered in 1994, and the published script won the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award for Drama in 1996.

These early plays established his reputation for edgy, testosterone-charged, emotional family dramas, and earned comparisons with David Mamet while displaying Rossi's admiration for the work of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. With these plays, Rossi drew attention to his neighbourhood, Montréal's Ville-Émard, as playwright David FENNARIO had earlier done for Pointe Saint-Charles.

In 1995, in a radical change of style, Rossi presented (once again at Centaur Theatre) an episodic light comedy called Love and Other Games about courtship rituals in contemporary cosmopolitan Montréal. In 1997, the STRATFORD FESTIVAL commissioned Rossi to prepare a new translation for their production of Eduardo de Filippo's Filumena.

In the third phase of his playwriting career Rossi has written a number of dramas based on Italian-Canadian and his own family history. Paradise by the River, a play about the internment of Italians in Canada during World War II, was produced at Centaur in 1998. Returning from a sojourn of film acting, writing and directing, Rossi wrote his "A Carpenter's Trilogy": Hellfire Pass, Carmela's Table and The Carpenter, which were presented at Centaur in 2006 and 2007.