Dario Fo

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Fo, Dario,

1926–2016, Italian playwright, actor, and director, b. Leggiuno Sangiano. Fo developed a sharp and irreverent satirical farce influenced by Bertholt BrechtBrecht, Bertolt
, 1898–1956, German dramatist and poet, b. Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht. His brilliant wit, his outspoken Marxism, and his revolutionary experiments in the theater made Brecht a vital and controversial force in modern drama.
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 and Antonio GramsciGramsci, Antonio
, 1891–1937, Italian political leader and theoretician. Originally a member of the Socialist party and a cofounder (1919) of the left-wing paper L'Ordine Nuovo, Gramsci helped to establish (1921) the Italian Communist party.
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 as well as by traditional commedia dell'artecommedia dell'arte
, popular form of comedy employing improvised dialogue and masked characters that flourished in Italy from the 16th to the 18th cent. Characters of the Commedia Dell'Arte
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 (although less formal than the latter). Inspired by the circus and carnivals, he used slapstick, puns, ridicule, and parody to explore social and political issues and to criticize authority of all kinds. A long-time member of the Communist party (he and his wife were denied entry into the United States in the early 1980s), Fo was often critical of the policies of the Roman Catholic church, which termed some of his plays blasphemous. Forceful, wittily anarchic, and often disturbing, his work was impeded by Italian censorship before 1962. In 1958, Fo and his wife, actress and playwright Franca Rame (1929–2013), with whom he frequently collaborated in writing and acting, founded their own troupe and began presenting works on contemporary issues. In the 1970s their plays became more political and more radical. The most famous of these is Accidental Death of an Anarchist (1970), a farce about the alleged suicide of an anarchist in police custody. Another well-known work, It's All Bed, Board and Church, is the collective title of five feminist monologues created by the pair in 1977. Rame also served (2006–8) in the Italian parliament. Among Fo's more than 70 other plays are a satire on politics and religion, Mistero Buffo (1969, rev. and updated for 30 years), Can't Pay, Won't Pay (1974), The Pope and the Witch (1989), and The Devil with Boobs (1997). Fo was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1997.

Bibliography

See his Tricks of the Trade (1986, tr. 1991); T. Mitchell, ed., File on Fo (1989); D. Hirst, Dario Fo and Franca Rame (1989); T. Behan, Dario Fo: Revolutionary Theater (2000); J. Farrell and A. Scuderi, ed., Dario Fo: Stage, Text, and Tradition (2000); R. Jenkins, Dario Fo and Franca Rame: Artful Laughter (2001); A. Scuderi, Dario Fo: Framing, Festival, and the Folkloric Imagination (2011).