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Friday, March 24, 2017

Writing 'to speak' for your time

“A theatre, a literature, an artistic expression that does not speak for its own time has no relevance.” – Dario Fo

On the same day last October that Bob Dylan was named for the Nobel Prize in Literature, one of the most acclaimed and previously controversial winners, Dario Fo, died at the age of 90.  Fo often said he was “an idiot” who just happened to win the Nobel Prize.  But “brilliant” would be a more fitting description.   An Italian actor, playwright, director, songwriter, and political campaigner he was “arguably the most widely performed contemporary playwright in world theatre” during his lifetime.

A master of satire and irony, he grew up the son of a self-educated writing mother and day-laborer father who also was a traveling actor in the ancient Italian tradition of regional performance that lampooned local politicos and religious figures. “When I was a boy, unconsciously, spontaneously I learned the art of telling ironic stories,” he said.

Whether as an actor, writer or director, Fo, who was born on this date in 1926,  found religion and politics to be “fertile ground” for his works.   “Every artistic expression is either influenced          
 by or adds something to politics,” he once wrote. 

Fo’s writings – translated into 30 languages and performed worldwide – address issues ranging from dictatorial brutality to AIDS, religion, organized crime, and “military actions.”    His satire, he said, can easily be adapted to unjust situations anywhere in the world.    “Satire can always be found everywhere.  A people without love for satire is a dead people.”

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