Monday, 17 October 2016
(accidentally deleted this post earlier, so had to come up with something new)
It was with sadness, that I discovered from an Italian friend the death of Dario Fo. A writer and performer whose onstage antics offended popes and presidents, bureaucrats and and conservatives of every stripe, died on Friday at home in Milan. His death was confirmed by his Italian publisher, Chiaralette, he succumbed to complications arising from a lung condition he had suffered for years,he was 90.
In 1997, the Swedish Academy awarded him the Nobel Prize in Literature,the Nobel jury honoured him for work which emulated "the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden, with a blend of laughter and gravity he opens our eyes to abuses and injustices in society and also the wider historical perspective in which they can be placed" ". It is kind of ironic that he died on the same day that Bob Dylan was awarded his.
Probably best known abroad for the series of plays he wrote in the immediate aftermath of the upheavals of 1968, such as the Accidental Death Of An Anarchist, inspired by the mysterious death of Giuseppe Pinelli an Italian Anarchist in a police station after a bomb attack in Milan a year earlier who fell or was pushed to his death from a balcony window,Mistero Buffo a retelling of the Christian gospels in an improvised format, which let him comment on everything from corruption in the Catholic Church to contemporary social and political issues. The play outraged the Vatican and was condemned by the Pope as blasphemous and We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay.In this play, based on actual events, prices were spiralling so high that ordinary people could not afford them and decided that they would only pay the original price before the price hikes. Like Accidental Death of an Anarchist, this play continues to be performed, in England as recently as 2012 and in France in 2014. The play Mother’s Marijuana Is the Best confronted Italy’s growing drug problem. “Rich people consume and use drugs, while poor people are used and consumed by drugs," he famously said at the time. Fo wrote more than 80 plays, which have been translated into 30 languages.
In addition to being a playwright, he was also a director,actor stage and costume designer,satirical anarchist,political provocateur, clown, jester and singer songwriter .Alongside his wife and muse Franca Rame he was an unapologetic anti-capitalist and remained one to the end.A fiercely leftist activist throughout his life, Fo’s work attacked institutions of organized crime, racism, corruption, religious theology and war.Unafraid of controversy, Fo was banned from Italian state broadcasting for 14 years and his support for left-wing causes led to U.S. visas being denied in the 1980s.
Dario Fo was born in San Gario, a small town on Lago Maggiore in the province of Varese, Italy. His father Felice,was a socialist, station master and actor in an amateur theatre company; his mother Pina Rota, was a woman of great imagination.As a student, he was called up to the army of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, but escaped and hid in an attic for the last few months of the war before Italy was liberated.
From the beginning of their careers at Milan’s famed Piccolo Teatro, Fo and Rame, who died in 2013, used their platform to champion the rights of workers, poor people and the disenfranchised, and to protest establishments political, social and religious, often drawing stern rebukes being jailed on numerous occassions ,facing violence, censorship, disruption and intimidation from both fascists, the police, the government and the vatican.After performing an anti-police show in Milan in 1973, Rame was kidnapped, tortured and raped by fascist thugs.Receiving his Nobel prize, Fo said that he shared the credit with Rame, as she had been his muse. Even as they subsequently suffered from failing health, they always rediscovered the vigour and inspiration to continue creative work.The inspiration for his style came from the strolling medieval players, the giullari, who travelled from town to town, setting up in market places and playing to the crowd, the ordinary people they belonged to.
Fo continued to enjoy writing plays that drew from Italian political scandals. In the late 1990s, Il Diavolo con le Zinne (The Devil With Boobs) transposed the Tangentopoli, or Bribesville, scandal to 16th-century Florence. The corrupt magistrate was played by the Italian stage’s leading traditional actor, Giorgio Albertazzi, who had never hidden his right-wing sympathies.Their collaboration surprised many, but they declared they were both anarchists in their own ways.His 2003 play The Two-Headed Anomaly, took aim at Italy's then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian president Vladimir Putin, and was censored on television.
After Rame’s death Fo decided the best way to commemorate her was to continue the work they had done together. Fo gave public support to the comedian turned politician Beppe Grillo, and later found a new kindred anarchistic spirit in Pope Francis whom he celebrated with a mock-medieval play about St Francis of Assisi..Fo ran for mayor of Milan in 2006 and remained a committed activist right to the end, committed to the working-class, and anti-war, anti-Fascist and climate change activity skewering Italian authorities with his sharp wit and appearing at a rally in support of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement last month
Accepting the Nobel, Fo remarked “A theater, a literature, an artistic expression that does not speak for its own time,” he said, “has no relevance.”"With Dario Fo's death, Italy has lost one of the great characters of its theatre, culture and civilian life," said Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi..
They say we should be moderate
Not stirring up class war
But we're bent on being obdurate
We'll take it all, we don't ask more
We'll defeat their aims for starters
We'll foil their dastardly plan
Can we have their guts for garters?
We say fucking right we can!
-Can't Pay, Won't Pay 1970
So long Dario Fo, a giant of Italian culture has left us R.I.P
Posted by teifidancer at 10:00