Date: Fri, 31 Oct 97 15:19:56 CST
People's court jester wins Nobel prize
By Dave Riley, Green Left Weekly, # 295, 29 October 1997
In a decision that has angered the Vatican, Dario Fo - Italy's leading contemporary performer/playwright - has been awarded the Nobel prize for literature.
The Swedish Academy's choice confirms what thousands worldwide have already discovered: Dario Fo is a great 20th century satirist. His plays are the most frequently performed of any living playwright's in Europe, and his reputation has been growing steadily in English-speaking countries since the late '70s.
The Vatican's objection was to be expected, because Fo's work has consistently angered the Catholic Church and the Italian right with the seriously argued politics that underlie his dazzling radical satires.
Fo has been aligned to the Italian non-parliamentary left since the early '60s. An avowed Marxist for most of his career, he refused to revise his outlook in line with the revisionist current that tamed Italian socialism under the guise of Eurocommunism; this ensured that he also received the wrath of the Stalinist leaders of Italy's huge Communist Party.
Of his plays, Accidental Death of an Anarchist is probably the best known, but works like Mistero Buffo are sure to be performed more frequently following the award.
This latter play, a one hander, is an examination of the satiric tradition in medieval Italy, when religious themes where utilised to make a social point the guardians of the church had not intended. Originally presented on Italian television, Mistero Buffo gained a popularity that has always irritated the Vatican as a work desecrating religious belief.
Victorians are indeed fortunate that a new production of Mistero Buffo is scheduled to premier this month as part of Melbourne's Fringe Festival.
Other works by Fo include: Can't Pay? Won't Pay!, Trumpets and Raspberries, Archangels Don't Play Pinball and The Pope and the Witch.
Fo's companion and collaborator, Franca Rame, is also a renowned playwright loved especially for her works on feminist themes.
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