Dario Fo is an Italian playwright, actor, composer and 1997 Nobel laureate for literature. He is known for his comedic and musical scripts that strive to be part of Italy’s working class movement and connect clearly to global issues. It’s hardly coincidental that he has adapted Brecht’s plays to the Italian scene (The Good Person of Setzuan, for example). He has an official site (in Italian) which is worth looking at. And now, in the midst of a “global recession” that is photographically documented at the Gage Gallery at Roosevelt University (see this link on this blog for information on the exhibit) one of Dario Fo‘s best known works comes to Evanston’s Piccolo Theatre. (See below). The work is currently titled Low Pay? Don’t Pay! I say currently because the play is rewritten or modified by the author occasionally, perhaps acquiring a changed title in the process, and so this same play has undergone various metamorphoses from the time I saw it (at the University of Southern California’s appropriately named “Stop Gap Theater”) almost 50 years ago. Then it was titled We Can’t Pay, We W0n’t Pay! (As a student I think I had to pay, perhaps $2.50 for admission.)
The following biography is taken from this web site: http://www.imagi-nation.com/moonstruck/clsc32.html where you can also find information about his plays and other works as well as biographical studies.
A popular and controversial playwright, actor and director, Dario Fo has earned international acclaim for his political satires and farces. Often considered the rightful heir of Aristophanes, Fo has led the field in political satire in Europe for over thirty years. The main targets of his ideologically inspired attacks have been capitalism, imperialism and corruption in the Italian government. For performances outside of Italy, his comedies are frequently adapted to reflect local political conditions.
Born in 1926, the son of a railroad worker, Fo began his career as a performer in satirical cabaret-style revues. Later, he wrote, produced and directed a string of successful “bourgeois comedies” (so called because they were performed mainly for middle class audiences). He has also written for and performed in several films and his one foray into television was as writer, director and co-star of Italy’s most popular television series, “Canzonissima”, which was ultimately removed from the airwaves by the Italian government after Fo portrayed a 12th century Pope who was known for being particularly cruel and hanging monks by their tongues from the church doors when they didn’t agree with him.
Fo was refused a visa to enter the United States during the 1970’s and 80’s under the McClaren Act. It was not until Robert Brustein and the American Reportory Theater invited him to perform in 1986 that he was finally granted entry. At the time of this appearance, he made a point to thank Ronald Reagan for all the publicity that had been generated by keeping him out of the country.
Since 1954, Fo has been married to Franca Rame, his chief collaborator and co-star. His best known plays include Accidental Death of an Anarchist, We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!, and Orgasmo Adulto Escapes from the Zoo. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997 for “emulating the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.”
A hilarious farce about real economic farce
by Dario Fo
Fridays/ Saturdays @ 8 pm, Sundays @ 3 pm
September 10- Oct. 23 (previews Sept. 3-5)
Piccolo Theatre, 600 Main Street, Evanston
847-424-0089 or www.piccolotheatre.com