Critical Context

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Accidental Death of an Anarchist takes a historical incident for its base. In 1969, Giuseppe Pinelli, an anarchist railway worker, was arrested in connection with a bombing in Milan, Italy. During police interrogation, as the official version went, he “fell” from a window in the Milan police headquarters. The official judgment of “accidental” did not account for blatant inconsistencies and absurd contradictions in the police report, however, and subsequent investigations revealed the probable innocence of the worker and extensive police and government corruption. Dario Fo re-creates the investigation, and in doing so exposes the motives and treachery of the police and government.

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Dario Fo and his collaborator and wife, Franca Rame, have been active in Italian and European theater for more than fifty years, performing in more than twenty-four countries, in thousands of venues to what must number in the millions of people. Despite this enormous success and popularity in Europe, it was not until the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that their collaborative works came to the attention of English-speaking audiences. The 1983 London production of Non si paga! Non si paga! (pr., pb. 1974; We Can’t Pay! We Won’t Pay! 1978) and Accidental Death of an Anarchist finally brought these plays critical recognition. Fo’s improvisation, his topicality, and his political engagement, and the commitment both he and Rame have to creating a popular theater account for the importance of the work. Accidental Death of an Anarchist captures the mood and social reality of the late 1960’s, as well as making an ongoing statement about the dangers of power.

Fo won the prestigious Nobel Prize...

(The entire section contains 421 words.)

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