Teacher By Day, Playwright By Night
By Bella Harnick
After some scribbles in his car, a note or two in between periods, and about two years of writing and rewriting, English teacher Mr. Vincent Amelio debuted his second full length play, How Alfo Learned to Love Women. This new play was featured at The National America Opera Center in New York City this September and October.
How Alfo Learned to Love Women focuses on main character Alfo Idello, who has a fascination with women. In order to inherit the family’s Italian bakery, he must get married. His grandfather—stuck not only in purgatory but also in traffic on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway—comes down to Earth to teach his grandson how to properly love women and thereby get into heaven. Mr. Amelio’s own life inspired this play, setting it apart from his other pieces of work.
Mr. Amelio originally wrote this semi-autobiographical play in 2003 during his time as a teacher at North Middle and a bachelor on a hunt to find the woman who later became his wife. He felt a blacksmith’s anvil weighing down on him as he had to write a new piece for a theatre he had already rented out for February break 2004. Mr. Amelio wound up looking back at his teenage years and relationships with his family to come up with the material for a play that focused on why he had not yet found his soul mate.
“My life was full of loneliness and confusion as to why it was so hard to find my future wife, so I began writing about my memories of growing up in my family, and as I wrote them I realized some were very funny, some were sensitive,” Mr. Amelio explained. He buried this play for almost a decade and resurrected it two years ago to begin preparing it for the stage.
Mr. Amelio first became interested in playwriting 17 years ago. He prefers writing plays because “when you write a novel you write it alone, and when you are done you are still alone. With a play you still write it alone, but then when you are done it becomes a collaborative piece of work, which is much more social…I met my best friend in the whole world through this play.”
Many South students and faculty attended the play to show support and to see a play that interested them. Sophomore Alexis Pramberger recalled, “The metaphors are hilarious, and there are moments when you want to laugh and cry a little at the same time…the zany characters fit just right.”
Drama teacher Mr. Tommy Marr said, “It’s just fantastic when a teacher pursues their talents outside of the school setting.” Mr. Marr had read many drafts of Mr. Amelio’s play and felt happy to see it all come together on stage.
The amount of attention filled Mr. Amelio with excitement. “Oh my gosh! It was just so amazing how people basically gave up what would be six hours of their time and took a risk to come see my play. It is unbelievably powerful, and I just feel very thankful and overwhelmed when I think about it.”
Mr. Amelio continued, “I am extremely pleased with the success of my play.” He hopes to take it to the next level: Off-Broadway.