“The only person that is going to be with you through every moment is yourself” – A conversation with Larissa Brigatti

Elena Mc Crory interviews Trinity graduate Larissa Brigatti on her novel O Sétimo Portão

Larissa Brigatti is cool as a cucumber. “I was talking to my dad on the phone and I said, ‘you know I love writing; I think I should go back to it’.” She leads me through her time studying Drama and Spanish at Trinity, alongside her part-time job and theatre work outside of college. She is honest about all aspects of student life, and although anyone who receives a third-level education is, to many, quite privileged, I am grateful to hear her say that “college life is hard”. Currently doing an MPhil in Film studies Screenwriting, she smiles at me through a screen, from a Trinity library. We discuss the troubles with online learning, her work in the Arts as a student, and how she wrote a book in second year. 

Brigatti was introduced to theatre at a young age, at around five-years-old in her birth country of Brazil, and the interest was evident. “I never wanted to do anything else,” she says. While her first language is Portuguese, she moved to Ireland at 15 and attended secondary school in English. Brigatti then started Drama studies and Spanish at Trinity and is now a Brazilian-Irish citizen. She always wanted to explore different mediums of storytelling, but thought that “drama was the basis of art, and in turn, expression.” Unfortunately, she finished her four year course online, with a postponed graduation. “You miss the physical experience, you know. You wait four years for that.” 

“There were a lot of things that were burdens in my life, but writing was never one of them.” She describes her student life as quite exhausting, with her full-time course, part-time job and theatre work on the side. As Arts students across the country can probably agree, it is difficult to find consistent work in theatre, but Brigatti gained it in second year working with Outlandish theatre platform and as assistant director to Patrick Sutton on his WOW project (an Outlandish Theatre project), Beckett’s Waiting for Godot which was in the Smock Alley Theatre. She wrote a short piece with eight women from Direct Provision, writing from the perspective of being in Irish culture and modern society. “It was a very important way of representing these women,” explains Brigatti. She emphasises the importance of work done outside your college course, and how it helped her to not fixate on one piece of dramatical practice: “I am not that fixed, I direct or I write, but I am not a director or a writer”. She delves into the difference between doing something and being something: “I didn’t do drama just to work in a theatre, in the sense that I always wanted to broaden my horizons and maybe do a Master’s in Film afterwards.”

“I was the only one that didn’t have a title. It was like a jigsaw puzzle, and you only know what you are going to get at the final slide.” 

When speaking of her dissertation, Brigatti tells me, much to my horror, that her class did not have access to a library (thank you, Coronavirus). Luckily, she did receive support from her supervisor, who was “lovely”, and her description of her dissertation made me laugh. “I was the only one that didn’t have a title. It was like a jigsaw puzzle, and you only know what you are going to get at the final slide.” 

In second year, she felt the urge to go back to writing. She tells me about a story her dad would tell her younger self. They would walk into her local bookstore and she would say: “one day you will see my book here”. Indeed, for Brigatti her wish became reality, and she speaks humbly about the honour it is to have her book in one of her favourite bookstores in Brazil. She eventually told one friend and professor what she was writing, but, for most of the time, it was just her dad who knew about her side project. 

“Follow your gut”, is the main idea that she keeps reiterating, especially in relation to her book, O Sétimo Portão. I ask her to describe it in one line, to which she chuckles and says: “That is cruel… I am known for writing more than I should.” Like many great achievements in life, there are always hurdles: “I have had some ‘No’s in my life”. “Even though I am so grateful for all of my teachers and experiences, I had one teacher who told me to quite literally ‘stay inside the box’, and that was tough to hear because you never expect something like that.” Being told to pipe down because her work was too “out there”, is described by her as soul-crushing, but evidently helped her to become who she is now. 

“Brigatti would write between her college essays, in between part-time work – whenever she got the chance.”

Brigatti repeats advice from her dad: “It doesn’t matter how many people pass through your life, the only person that is going to be with you through every moment is yourself.” The advice I like the most is that “the things you do in life have to be for you.” Brigatti would write between her college essays, in between part-time work – whenever she got the chance. Her book is classified in bookstores as horror and supernatural, but she promises you won’t see demons climbing the ceiling. She, herself, categorises it as fiction. “I was always fascinated by the various aspects of human interaction,” she says. Her book, which is sold in bookstores throughout Brazil and on Amazon in Portuguese, is focused on the life of Clarisse, in an ordinary sense, but hones in on the character’s abusive relationships and the psychological purgatory that is the aftermath of these relationships. 

I ask about her future plans, and whether that entails another book. I think to myself that she has never sounded more Irish: “Sure look, I’ll just say it… I wrote a second book.”