From the stage to the page

Tony Gullage

Luling playwright who worked with Tyler Perry now an author, screenwriter

Has love ever caused you to hurt? Maybe Tony Gullage can help.

The Luling native has taken his successful play about dealing with complex relationship problems and turned it into a book so that more people will have access to it.

“Did Love Cause Me To Hurt?” deals with  the dangers of drug abuse, child abuse and abandonment in family relationships. Gullage wrote the words and music for the original play and has now turned it into an expanded novel that provides more background and development of characters and adds some new information to the story.

For both those who enjoyed the play and who missed out on it, the book is a chance to get an even more indepth look at the moral and ethical questions presented by Gullage’s characters.

The book centers around one family’s struggle to deal with the pain of unresolved heartache. It follows a bitter yet loving father that has been abandoned by his wife, a hurting daughter living with a secret, an aunt delivered from drug addiction who has turned to the Bible for help, and a homeless man who offers comfort to the entire family.

Gullage said that the novel was an opportunity to expand on his characters’ backgrounds and give his fans more to enjoy.

“With the rules of stage play, you’re confined to a certain time, but each one of these characters had a back story,” he said. “For example, one character basically betrayed her friend by seducing her friend’s husband. In the play, all you see is the betrayal. In the book, you realize that the person is dealing with impulses because she was abused as a child.”

The book will also introduce some new characters and offers something for people in every walk of life.

In addition to all of the new elements of the book, Gullage is packaging it with a sequel to his original story.

“The sequel goes into what happens after you deal with your problems,” he said. “A lot of times when we go through things and face the problem, we don’t realize that there’s another part left after we’re done dealing with it, like if you lose a loved one there is grief but how do you cope with life afterwards?

“It’s basically saying that things have to continue forward after a tragedy.”

Gullage said the second book is a little lighter but still tackles heavy issues.

“You laugh more, but you deal with the very serious issue of being able to forgive,” he said.

Transferring his storyline into a novel has been one of the biggest challenges of his career. Gullage said that the hardest part was the additional research needed for a book, as opposed to a play.

“I definitely had to do more research. For example, I spoke with professionals regarding the legal parts of the book, such as divorce practices when a spouse is not able to be located,” Gullage said.

He became internationally known during his six-years as a musical director for playwright and movie star Tyler Perry. Gullage grew up as the son of a grain elevator worker and began his career in music performing gospel. He soon ascended the musical ranks, touring with several different bands and performing with the likes of Dr. John and Henry Butler.

“I never intended to go in this direction with the talents that I have…writing a book was something totally different,” he said.

Gullage is currently publishing the book, which includes the sequel, through Sea-Gull Publishing and said it will be available in local bookstores soon. He is also working on making a digital copy available to the public.

Earlier this year, a Hollywood project developer contacted Gullage and asked him to turn the book into a screenplay. Gullage had never written a screenplay before, but he taught himself how and worked in overdrive to get both the book and script done.

With the book and screenplay complete, he has already been contacted by film companies who are interested in making a DVD of the performance and national book reviewers who are critiquing his book.

Gullage said that the strength that writing the book gave him and the national interest he has had in making a DVD of the story are pushing him to start performances again.

“I’m gearing up now…to go back to stage performances,” he said. “Hopefully when people read the book it will really make them want to see the show.”

In the original production of the play, Gullage used local actors and actresses and performed in mostly local venues. He hopes to bring “Did love cause me to hurt?” back to St. Charles Parish stages in the future and said he really enjoyed showcasing local talent in his first local productions.

“St. Charles Parish is just full of a lot of talent – we’re very talent-rich,” he said.


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