Weekend Q&A: Playwright Vittoria Cafolla on dogs v cats, Roblox v exercise

Vittoria Cafolla is a Belfast-based dramatist who was formerly chosen for the Lyric's New Playwrights programme and who heads the Paradosso theatre company

Vittoria Cafolla's new play is The Shedding of Skin
Jane Hardy

How do you unwind at the weekend?

With two kids – Giovanna (9) and Marcello (5) – I don’t know if there’s much unwinding. They’d like to remain on the computer game Roblox the whole time but my husband Steven, who works for the Belfast Film Festival, and I try to get them out to do some exercise and sometimes go to Ormeau Park. We also spend time with my dad Vittorio who lives in Armagh and is a widower. We take his dog, a German shepherd, for a walk. I’m not really a dog person – I’m a cat person – but I got to know and like this one. (His name's Buffon.) I also run a lot and go to the gym.

What do you recall most about weekends growing up?

I talked about this question with my wee brother – we had to do our tidying and our chores. My big sister, Pavola, would send us off with a list of chores, and we called her Miss Hannigan after the character in Annie. I was a bit of a nerd as a teen and into stargazing and meeting up with friends. So it wasn’t a case of going under-age drinking. I’d also watch Star Trek.

Friday night or Saturday night?

Definitely Friday night because it is relaxing. It’s also the night my elder brother who’s a screenwriter comes over for a drink.

What is your must-watch TV or Netflix?

It depends on what I’m researching and writing. At the moment, I am working on a play called The Silver Bullet set here in the border country in Northern Ireland so am watching a lot of Westerns.

Have you a favourite eatery or is it a takeaway?

We don’t actually eat out but we do go to my brother’s café, Cafollo, in Newtownards. The kids love his ice cream. I tend to cook, mainly Italian, and my signature dishes are aranchini and risotto. I do quite a nice tomato risotto.

Is Sunday still special?

Yes. I was brought up a Catholic but I don’t really believe now and my children go to an integrated school. Growing up, I would have gone to Mass every Sunday. I would have been quite religious back in the day, praying and so on. I remember that I used to love going to midnight Mass and the ceremony of it.

How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning?

Sunday night finds me frantically washing uniforms and getting things ready for the kids returning to school. My new play, The Shedding of Skin, for Kabosh, isn’t exactly a comedy but it deals with women’s lives and abuse. I think when we come out of the pandemic, we’ll need comedy and distraction, but it’s important not to neglect this side of things.

The Shedding of Skin is viewable from June 15 to June 18; tickets £5; visit

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