Dario Fo



  • (1926 - ) Italian actor, manager, and dramatist,whose political comment has enraged both conservatives and communists.Fo's theatrical career began in amateur theater groups in Milan andcontinued with cabaret performances (from 1953) with his wife, theactress Franca Rame. The couple formed their own companyin 1957, for which Fo wrote his first farces, including ArchangelsDon't Play the Pin-Tables (1959), Stealing a Foot Makes youLucky in Love (1961), and Seventh: Thou Shalt Steal a LittleLess (1964). Although these early farces contain a degree of politicalcomment, they were written to appeal to conventional middle-classaudiences. From the mid 1960s, however, Fo's work began to acquirea controversial reputation for its highly partisan comment on society,government, and the role of the Catholic Church.

    Encouraged by the general political discontent of 1968, Foabandoned the mainstream theater and formed a new company, the CompagniaNuova Scena. With this company he toured factories and halls withan increasingly political repertoire. In 1968 he presented TheGreat Pantomime and the following year Mistero Buffo, aunique one-man show designed to exploit his talents for comedy andmime. Fo has frequently revived Mistero Buffo and the showhas toured widely in Europe. When it was televised in Italy in 1977the Vatican called it "the most blasphemous spectacle in televisionhistory."

    In 1970 Fo founded another company in Milan, La Comune, tospecialize in left-wing drama. La Comune's first success was withhis own Accidental Death of an Anarchist (1970). This play,based upon the actual death of an anarchist railway worker while inpolice custody, has been widely translated and performed in many countries.Fo's subsequent works include Can't Pay? Won't Pay! (1974),in which high prices provoke public unrest, Trumpets and Raspberries(1982), and The Open Couple (1987; with Franca Rame), aboutthe failure of a modern marriage. In 1997 Fo was a surprise winnerof the Nobel Prize for Literature, an award that caused great controversyin Italy. Despite suffering a severe stroke, he has continued to writeand perform such provocative works as The Two-Headed Anomaly(2003), a vicious satire on the government of Silvio Berlusconi thatled to a €1 million libel suit from a member of the ruling party. In2006 he campaigned unsuccessfully to become mayor of Milan.