An internationally acclaimed and widely produced political playwright, Dario Fo was born in the small town of San Giano on the shore of Lake Maggiore, Lombardy, in 1926. An outspoken but not doctrinaire Marxist, Fo has often created his dramatic works on the spur of the moment, to be used in specific political situations.
Fo’s father was a railway worker and ardent antifascist. Fo was reared in a rural environment where he learned to appreciate both the traditional peasant culture of his mother and the political fight against fascism. Much of Fo’s childhood was spent listening to the traditional storytellers who could still be found in the remote areas of Lombardy. By the time he was in his teens, he had internalized a vast repertoire of traditional folk narratives. Following a brief time in the army, Fo studied architecture in Milan. Strongly attracted to the theater, however, he dropped out to become first a scene designer and then a performer.
Fo started writing plays at the age of eighteen, yet it was not until 1950 that his professional career began. He had performed for friends and fellow students with success and approached the then famous actor Franco Parenti, hoping to be invited to participate in a stage show Parenti was organizing. Parenti accepted, and a collaboration began that lasted four years. The Italian state radio invited him to do his own comical one-man show, Poer nano (poor dwarf), and in 1952 Fo and his “poor dwarf” took to the stage. Soon after, Fo, Parenti, and the actor Giustino Durano produced the famous revue Il dito nell’ occhio (a finger in the eye). Fo, arguably the most gifted actor-clown of his day, has throughout his career worked as an all-around theater man, writing plays and songs, directing, creating sets, and acting.
After a brief interlude in Rome, where he worked as a screenwriter, there followed years when Dario Fo wrote and starred with his wife,...
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