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Dario Fo

Fo, Dario, 1926–, Italian playwright, actor, and director, b. Leggiuno Sangiano. Fo developed a sharp and irreverent satirical farce influenced by Bertholt Brecht and Antonio Gramsci as well as by traditional commedia dell'arte (although less formal than the latter). Inspired by the circus and carnivals, his theater uses 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 has often been critical of the policies of the Roman Catholic church, which has 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 plays on contemporary issues. 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 Mistero Buffo (1969), 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.

See 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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