Fo, Dario

(1926– )
   Dario Fo was born on 24 March 1926, near Lake Maggiore (Leggiuno Sangiano in Lombardy). Long a showman, playwright, designer, monologuist, director, actor, clown, and satirist, Fo—no less than the Italian intellectual community—was astonished to learn that he was to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1997, bringing to six the number of Italians to be so honored. Most of Fo’s work (including 70 plays) consists of poking a carefully aimed thumb in the eye of those in authority, as well as of terrorists, popes, and tycoons, all of whom are—in Fo’s view—obtuse, at the very least. His plays have been likened to an absurdist type of British kitchen-sink drama. His most famous play, La morte accidentale d’un anarchico (The Accidental Death of an Anarchist, 1970) has been translated and staged all over the world. He has been allowed entry into the United States only once, in 1984. On two earlier occasions he and his wife since 1953, the actress Franca Rame, had been denied U.S. visas because of his leftist associations and long membership in the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party (PCI).
   The Vatican has an equally negative view of Fo, having been the target of his humor on more than one occasion. L’Osservatore Romano deplored the action of the Swedish Academy, for having selected this author “of questionable works.” The Swedish Academy, however, described this perfect jester as blending “laughter and gravity” in ways that reveal injustices and abuses by those in charge anywhere.
   See also Literature; Lotta Continua; Luzi, Mario; Strategia della Tensione.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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