Fo, Dario 1926-
Fo, Dario 1926-
Fo, Dario 1926-
Born March 24, 1926, in San Giano, Lombardy, Italy; son of Felice (a railroad stationmaster) and Pina Fo; married Franca Rame (a playwright and actress), June, 1954; children: three. Education: Attended Accademia di Belle Arti, Milan, Italy.
Home—Milan, Italy. Agent—Michael Imison Playwrights Ltd, 28 Almeida St., London N1 1TD, England; also, CTFR, Corso di Porta Romania 132, 201228 Milan, Italy.
Playwright, director, actor, and theatrical company leader. Has written more than forty plays, many of which have been translated and performed in more than thirty countries, 1953—; performs plays in Italy, Europe, and the United States, and runs classes and workshops for actors, 1970s—. Worked as a member of small theatrical group, headed by Franco Parenti, performing semi-improvised sketches for radio before local audiences, 1950; wrote and performed comic monologues for his own radio program, Poer nana ("Poor Dwarf"), broadcast by the Italian national radio network RAI, 1951; formed revue company, I Dritti ("The Stand-Ups"), with Giustino Durano and Parenti, 1953; screenwriter in Rome, 1956-58; formed improvisational troupe Compagnia Fo-Rame, with wife, Franca Rame, 1958; named artistic director of Italian state television network's weekly musical revue, Chi l'ha visto? ("Who's Seen It?"), and writer and performer of sketches for variety show Canzonissima ("Really Big Song"), 1959; formed theater cooperative Nuova Scena, with Rame, 1968, and La Comune, 1970.
Sonning Award, Denmark, 1981; Off Broadway Award, Village Voice, 1987; Nobel Prize in Literature, 1997; Lusanto Jullare Francesco, 1999.
Teatro comico, Garzanti (Italy), 1962.
Le Commedie, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1966, enlarged edition published as Le Commedie di Dario Fo, six volumes, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1974, reprinted, 1984.
Vorrei morire anche stasera se dovessi pensare che no e servito a niente, E.D.B., 1970.
Morte e resurrezione di un pupazzo, Sapere Edizioni, 1971.
Teatro comico, Garzanti (Italy), 1971.
Ordine!, Bertani (Verona, Italy), 1972.
Ordine! Per Dio, Bertani (Verona, Italy), 1972.
Pum, pum! Chi e? La polizia! (title means "Knock, Knock! Who's There? Police!"), Bertani (Verona, Italy), 1972.
Tutti uniti! Tutti insieme! Ma scusa quello non e il padrone? (title means "United We Stand! All Together Now! Oops, Isn't That the Boss?"), Bertani (Verona, Italy), 1972.
Guerra di popolo in Cile (title means "The People's War in Chile"), Bertani (Verona, Italy), 1973.
Mistero buffo (title means "The Comic Mystery"; first produced in Milan, Italy, 1969; produced on Broadway at the Joyce Theater, May 27, 1986), Bertani (Verona, Italy), 1973, revised, 1974.
Mistero buffo: Giullarata popolare, Bertani (Verona, Italy), 1974, reprinted, Einaudi (Torino, Italy), 2003.
Ballate e canzoni (title means "Ballads and Songs"), introduction by Lanfranco Binni, Bertani (Verona, Italy), 1974, reprinted, Newton Compton (Rome, Italy), 1976.
Non si paga, non si paga (first produced in Milan, 1974), La Comune (Milan, Italy), 1974; adapted by Bill Colvill and Robert Walker, Pluto Press (London, England), 1978; translation by Lino Pertite reprinted as Can't Pay? Won't Pay!, Pluto Press (London, England), 1982, North American version by R.G. Davis published as We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!, Samuel French (New York, NY), 1984.
Morte accidentale di un anarchico (first produced in Milan, December, 1970; produced on Broadway at Belasco Theater, November 15, 1984), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1974, translation by Gavin Richards published as Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Pluto Press (London, England), 1980, published as Morte accidentale di un anarchio [Accidental Death of an Anarchist], Manchester University Press (New York, NY), 1998.
La Guillarata, Bertani (Verona, Italy), 1975.
Il Fanfani rapito, Bertani (Verona, Italy), 1975.
La Marjuana della mamma e la piu bella, Bertani (Verona, Italy), 1976.
La Signora e da buttare (title means "The Old Girl's for the Scrapheap"), Einuadi (Turin, Italy), 1976.
Il Teatro politico, G. Mazzotta (Milan, Italy), 1977.
Dario Fo parla di Dario Fo, Lerici (Cosenza, Italy), 1977.
(With wife, Franca Rame) Tutta casa, letto e chiesa, Bertani (Verona, Italy), 1978, translation published as Orgasmo Adulto Escapes from the Zoo, Bertani (Verona, Italy), 1978, translation by Estelle Parsons, Broadway Play Publishing (New York, NY), 1985.
La Storia di un soldato, photographs by Silvia Lelli Masotti, commentary by Ugo Volli, Electa (Milan, Italy), 1979.
Storia della tigre ed altre storie, La Comune (Milan, Italy), 1980.
Storia vera di Piero d'Angera: Che alla crociata non c'era, La Comune (Milan, Italy), 1981.
Fabulazzo osceno, F.R. La Comune (Milan, Italy), 1982.
L'Opera dello sghignazzo: dalla "Beggar's opera di John Gay" e da alcune idee di mio figlio Jacopo, F.R. La Comune (Milan, Italy), 2nd edition, 1982.
Dario Fo and Franca Rame: Theatre Workshops at Riverside Studios, London, April 28th, May 5th, 12th, 13th & 19th, 1983, Red Notes (London, England), 1983.
Coppia aperta, Tip.-Lit. "La Musica moderna," 1984.
Il Ratto della Francesca: Commedia in due tempi, La Comune (Milan, Italy), 1986.
Dario Fo, dialogo provocatorio sul comico, il tragico, la follia e la ragione con Luigi Allegri, Laterza (Rome, Italy), 1990.
Johan Padan a la descoverta de le Americhe, Giunti (Firenze, Italy), 1992.
(Coauthor) Parliamo di donne: Il Teatro, Kaos (Milan, Italy), 1992.
Abducting Diana: Il Ratto della Francesca, adapted by Stephen Stenning, Oberon Books (London, England), 1994.
Toto: Manuale dell'attor comico, Vallecchi (Firenze, Italy), 1995.
(Illustrator) Una Strega, una pizza e un orco con la stizza, by Bianca Fo Garambois, FATATRAC (Rome, Italy), 1995.
Il Diavolo con le Zinne, G. Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1998.
Federico Fellini & Dario Fo: Disegni geniali, Mazzotta (Milan, Italy), 1999.
La Vera storia di Ravenna, F.C. Panini (Modena, Italy), 1999.
Caravaggio al tempo di Caravaggio: in occasione della mostra "Caravaggio, una mostra impossibile" a Roma, Castel Sant'Angelo, F.C. Panini (Modena, Italy), 2005.
Bello figliolo che tu se' Raffaello, F.C. Panini (Modena, Italy), 2006.
Il Mantegna impossibile, F.C. Panini (Modena, Italy), 2006.
OTHER PLAYS; IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION
(With Franca Rame) Female Parts: One Woman Plays, translated by Margaret Kunzle and Stuart Hood, adapted by Olwen Wymark, Pluto Press (London, England), 1981.
Car Horns, Trumpets and Raspberries (first produced in Milan, January, 1981; produced in the United States at the Yale Repertory Theater as About Face, 1981), translated by R.C. McAvoy and A.H. Giugni, Pluto Press (London, England), 1981, reprinted, 1984.
(With Franca Rame) The Open Couple—Wide Open Even, Theatretexts (London, England), 1984.
The Tale of a Tiger: A Comic Monologue [Storia della tigre], Theatretexts (London, England), 1984.
One Was Nude and One Wore Tails: A One-Act Farce [Uomo nudo e l'uomo in frak], Theatretexts (London, England), 1985.
Elizabeth, Almost by Chance a Woman [Quasi per caso una donna, Elisabetta], translated by Ron Jenkins, S. French (New York, NY), 1989.
About Face: A Political Farce, translated by Ron Jenkins, S. French (New York, NY), 1989.
Archangels Don't Play Pinball [Arcangeli non giocano a flipper], translated by Ron Jenkins, S. French (New York, NY), 1989.
The Open Couple and an Ordinary Day, Heinemann (London, England), 1990.
The Pope and the Witch, Heinemann (London, England), 1993, translated by Joan Holden, S. French (New York, NY), 1997.
(With Franca Rame) Plays, Two (contains Can't Pay? Won't Pay!, The Open Couple, and An Ordinary Day), Methuen (London, England), 1994.
Plays, Methuen Drama (London, England), 1997.
Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2001.
We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! and Other Plays: The Collected Plays of Dario Fo, edited by Franca Rame, translated by Ron Jenkins, Theatre Communications Group (New York, NY), 2001.
Peace Mom (one-woman play), first produced in London, England, 2005.
Also author of The Devil with Boobs.
OTHER PLAYS; PRODUCED ONLY
Il Dito nell'occhio (title means "A Finger in the Eye"), first produced in Milan at Piccolo Teatro, June, 1953.
I Sani da legare (title means "A Madhouse for the Sane"), first produced in Milan at Piccolo Teatro, 1954.
Ladri, manachini e donne nude (title means "Thieves, Dummies, and Naked Women"), first produced in Milan at Piccolo Teatro, 1958.
Gli arcangeli non giocano a flipper (title means "Archangels Don't Play Pinball,") first produced in Milan at Teatro Odeon, September, 1959.
Isabella, tre caravelle, e un cacciaballe (title means "Isabella, Three Ships, and a Con Man"), first produced in Milan at Teatro Odeon, 1963.
L'Anomal bicefalo (title means "Two-Headed Anomaly"), first produced in Milan at Piccolo Teatro, 2003.
Also author of numerous other plays produced in Italy, including Aveva due pistole con gli occhi bianchi e neri (title means "He Had Two Pistols with White and Black Eyes"), 1960; Grande pantomima con bandiere e pupazzi piccoli e medi (title means "Grand Pantomime with Flags and Small and Medium-Sized Puppets"), October, 1968; Fedayn, 1971; Il Fabulazzo osceno (title means "The Obscene Fable"), 1982; and Hellequin, Arlekin, Arlechino, 1986. Other stage credits include an adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera, for Teatro Stabile di Torino and Teatro Il Fabbricone of Prato, and Patapumfete, for the clown duo I Colombaioni.
Manuale minimo dell'attore (title means "Basic Handbook for the Actor"), Einuadi (Turin, Italy), 1987, reprinted, 1997.
The Tricks of the Trade, translation by Joe Farrell, Routledge (New York, NY), 1991.
Marino libero! Marino e innocente!, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1998.
Teatro, G. Einaudi (Turin, Italy)), 2000.
L'Ascensione di Alessandro Magno portato in cielo da due grifoni: Dal romanzo greco dello pseudo-Callistene vissuto ad Alessandria d'Egitto nel IV secolo d.c., illustrated by Rachele Lo Piano, Sinnos (Rome, Italy), 2001.
Cinquant'anni di storia italiana attraverso il teatro: Dario Fo e Franca Rame: Tournee 2001-2002, M. Baroni (Lucca, Italy), 2002.
(With Franca Rame) Il Paese dei Mezaràt: I Miei primi sette anni (e qualcuno in più), Feltrinelli (Milano, Italy), 2002.
The Peasants Bible and The Story of the Tiger, translated by Ron Jenkins, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2004.
My First Seven Years (Plus a Few More): A Memoir, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Il mondo secondo Fo, U. Guanda (Parma, Italy), 2007.
Noted Italian playwright and Nobel laureate Dario Fo began refining his animated method of storytelling as a child, listening to the tales told by the locals in San Giano, the small fishing village in northern Italy where he was born. After leaving Milan's Academy of Fine Arts without earning a degree, Fo wrote and performed with several improvisational theatrical groups. He first earned acclaim as a playwright in 1953 with Il Dito nell'occhio, a socially satiric production that presented Marxist ideas against a circus-like background. His 1954 attack on the Italian government in I Sani da legare, in which Fo labeled several government officials fascist sympathizers, resulted in the cutting of some material from the original script and the mandated presence of state inspectors at each performance of the play to insure that the country's strict libel laws were not violated.
Following a brief stint as a screenwriter in Rome, Fo, together with his wife, actress Franca Rame, returned to the theater and produced a more generalized, less explicitly political brand of social satire. Widely regarded as his best work during this phase of his career, Gli arcangeli non giocano a flipper was the first of Fo's plays to be staged outside of Italy.
In 1968 Fo and Rame rejected the legitimate theater as an arm of the bourgeoisie and, backed by the Italian Communist party, they formed Nuova Scena, a noncommercial theater group designed to entertain and inform the working class. The plays produced by this company centered on political issues and grew increasingly radical in tone. The communist party withdrew its support from Nuova Scena after the staging of Grande pantomima con bandiere e pupazzi piccoli e medi, a satire of Italy's political history in the wake of World War II. The highly symbolic play depicts the birth of capitalism (portrayed by a beautiful woman) from fascism (a huge monster puppet) and the subsequent seduction of communism by capitalism. Through the play Fo demonstrated his disenchantment with the authoritative, antirevolutionary policies of the Italian Communist party, allowing communism to succumb to capitalism's enticement.
Steeped in an atmosphere of political and social unrest, the 1960s proved to be a decade of increased popularity for Fo, providing him with new material and a receptive audience. Mistero buffo: Giullarata popolare, generally considered his greatest and most controversial play, was first performed in 1969. An improvised production based on a constantly changing script, the play is a decidedly irreverent retelling of the gospels that indicts landowners, government, and, in particular, the Catholic Church as public oppressors. Fo based the show's format on that of the medieval mystery plays originally parodied by giullari, strolling minstrel street performers of the Middle Ages. Mistero buffo was written in Italian as a series of sketches for a single actor—Fo—to perform on an empty stage. The playwright introduces each segment of the work with an informal prologue to establish a rapport with his audience. He links together the satiric religious narratives, portraying up to a dozen characters at a time by himself. The sketches include a reenactment of Lazarus's resurrection, complete with opportunists who pick the pockets of the awestruck witnesses; the tale of a contented cripple's efforts to avoid being cured by Jesus; an account of the wedding feast at Cana as told by a drunkard; and an especially dark portrait of the corrupt Pope Boniface VIII.
Writing in American Theatre, Ron Jenkins considered Fo's black humor and "sense of moral indignation" most effectively illuminated in a fable from Mistero buffo titled "The Birth of the Giullare," which explains how the minstrel received his narrative gift. A former peasant, the giullare had been humiliated and victimized by corrupt politicians, priests, and landowners. In his despair, he decides to kill himself but is interrupted by a man asking for water. The man is Jesus Christ who, in kissing the peasant's lips, gives him the facility to mesmerize an audience—and deflate the very authorities that had oppressed him—with his words. Jenkins remarked: "Fo performs the moment of the miracle with an exhilarating sense of musicality…. The triumph of freedom over tyranny is palpable in [his] every sound and movement."
According to Charles C. Mann in the Atlantic Monthly, Fo took pleasure in the Vatican's description of the play, which was taped and broadcast on television in 1977, as "the most blasphemous" program ever televised. Mistero buffo was nevertheless a critical and popular success throughout Europe. The staging of the play in London in 1983 single-handedly saved from bankruptcy the financially ailing theater in which it was performed. Despite the reception of his masterpiece abroad, Fo was unable to perform the play in the United States until 1986 when he and Rame were finally granted permission to enter the country. The couple had been denied visas in 1980 and 1984 because of their alleged involvement in fund-raising activities for an Italian terrorist organization. Fo and his wife dismissed the accusation and maintained their innocence. Through the efforts of civil libertarian and cultural groups in Europe and the United States, Fo and Rame ultimately received visas, and Mistero buffo opened in New York in the spring of 1986. Jenkins termed the play "a brilliant one-man version of biblical legends and church history" whose comedy "echo[es] the rhythms of revolt."
Fo's penchant for justice prompted him to compose the absurdist play Morte accidentale di un anarchico, produced in English as Accidental Death of an Anarchist, in response to the untimely death of anarchist railway man Giuseppi Pinelli in late 1969. Pinelli's death was apparently connected to efforts by right-wing extremists in Italy's military and secret service agencies to discredit the Italian Communist party by staging a series of seemingly leftist-engineered bombings. The railway worker was implicated in the worst of these bombings, the 1969 massacre at Milan's Agricultural Bank. While being held for interrogation, Pinelli fell—it was later shown that he was pushed—from the fourth-floor window of Milan's police headquarters.
In Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Fo introduces a stock medieval character, the maniac, into the investigation of the bombing to illuminate the truth. Fo commented in American Theatre: "When I injected absurdity into the situation, the lies became apparent. The maniac plays the role of the judge, taking the logic of the authorities to their absurd extremes," thus demonstrating that Pinelli's death could not have occurred in the way the police had described. Because of their part in the exposure of the police cover-up, Fo was assaulted and jailed and Rame kidnapped and beaten in the first few years that the play was staged.
Accidental Death of an Anarchist was a smash hit in Italy, playing to huge crowds for more than four years. When officials pressured a theater in Bologna to halt plans for production, the play was alternatively staged in a sports stadium for an audience of more than six thousand people. After receiving rave reviews throughout Europe—John Lahr, writing in New Society, called the show "loud, vulgar, kinetic, scurrilous, smart, [and] sensational…. Everything theatre should be"—and enjoying a thirty-month run in London, Accidental Death of an Anarchist opened in the United States in 1984, only to close a short time later.
Because Fo's plays are often either loosely translated or performed in Italian and center on historical, political, and social events that bear more significance for audiences in Italy than in the States, American versions of the playwright's works are frequently considered less dazzling than their Italian counterparts. For instance, a few critics found the presence of a translator on stage during Mistero buffo mildly distracting. And many reviewers agreed that the English translation of Accidental Death of an Anarchist lacked the power of the Italian production. Frank Rich insisted in the New York Times that adapter Richard Nelson's introduction of timely American puns into the script "wreck[ed] the play's farcical structure and jolt[ed] both audience and cast out of its intended grip."
Fo's 1978 collaboration with Rame, Tutta casa, letto e chiesa, produced in the United States as Orgasmo Adulto Escapes from the Zoo, also "may have lost some of its punch crossing the Atlantic," asserted David Richards in the Washington Post. A cycle of short sketches written for a single female player, Orgasmo Adulto Escapes from the Zoo focuses on women's status in a patriarchal society. Richards felt that, to an American audience in the mid-1980s when the play was produced in the United States, "the women in Orgasmo seem to be fighting battles that have long been conceded on these shores." Still, if not timely, the performances were judged favorably for their zest and honesty in portraying Italian sexism.
The Tricks of the Trade, published in 1991, is a collection of notes, talks, and workshop transcripts by Fo that deal with numerous aspects of the theater and their historical origins and modern roles: mimes and clowns, masks, and puppets and marionettes. Fo also discusses his own plays and his distinctive approach to playwriting and performing. "The Tricks of the Trade offers inspiration for theatre practitioners of all sorts, while celebrating a revival of the power and predominance of the politically inspired clown," remarked James Fisher in Drama Review. Writing in World Literature Today, Giovanni d'Angelo commented that the book "is technically robust and exhaustive" and termed Fo's style "fluent and graceful."
Fo asserted in American Theatre: "My plays are provocations, like catalysts in a chemical solution…. I just put some drops of absurdity in this calm and tranquil liquid, which is society, and the reactions reveal things that were hidden before the absurdity brought them out into the open."
Fo's winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997 caused quite a stir. Italian literature enjoys a long, distinguished history, going back to the fourteenth century to the work of Petrarch and Boccaccio. When Fo won the coveted prize many people were surprised. They thought him "a mere writer and clownish performer of rather buffoonish comedies," wrote Jack Helbig for Booklist. However, audiences who have witnessed his works, continued Helbig, "have seen his anarchistic farces descry serious intent just below their mad comic surfaces." In a statement expressing the reasons for giving the prize to Fo, the academy stated that it was awarded for Fo's commitment to uphold the dignity of the downtrodden in modern society. Upon winning the prize, Fo reportedly telephoned his wife, Rame, referring to her as Mrs. Nobel, acknowledging her lifelong commitment to their shared work.
Fo's Mistero Buffo was the first of his plays to be staged in New York in the spring of 1986. The following year, he and his wife won an Obie Award under the category of special citations. In 2001, a revival of Fo's Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas, was presented at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA. In a review for American Theatre, Jenkins noted that despite the fact that Fo adapted his play from sixteenth-century explorers' diaries, "its sly satirical examination of racism, religious warfare, ethnic cleansing and the mass migration of homeless refugees resonates with today's headlines." In this play, Johan Padan is a stowaway on one of Christopher Columbus's ships. However, when Padan arrives in the New World, he sides with the Native Americans in their fight against Columbus and his men. As Variety reviewer Markland Taylor put it, Johan does so, having learned that "the so-called savages of the Americas are a good deal less savage than the Europeans." Boston Herald theatre critic Terry Byrne found that this particular play "blends Fo's best skills as a traditional storyteller and political satirist." The play was staged in several U.S. cities, including New York, as a fiftieth anniversary celebration of Fo's career on stage with Rame.
The 2001 publication of We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! and Other Plays: The Collected Plays of Dario Fo once again brought Fo's name to the forefront of discussions about drama in the States. Library Journal reviewer Thomas E. Luddy described Fo and Rame as "modern commedia dell'arte entertainers," and claimed that this new study of their collaborative work was "a much-needed critical review." The title of this book comes from one of Fo's most often performed plays. In an article about the titled play, after it was staged back in 1998, Los Angeles Times reviewer Laurie Winer, referred to We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! as a classical example of how Fo earned his Nobel Prize, with the play's main theme of upholding the rights of those less fortunate. Winer wrote that the play "blends wacky kitchen-sink comedy with diatribes on how the workers need to grab power from capitalist crooks."
After decades in the theater, Fo continues to work. As Maureen Paton wrote in an interview with Fo for the London Times, he "still has plenty to rebel against." Despite the fact that he has spent time in jail in Italy for his writing and performance, that his wife has suffered abuse from people who disagreed with the couple's creative material, that his theatre was burnt, and an attempt was made to set his house on fire, Fo has never lacked the courage to express exactly what is on his mind.
Fo was called "a Left-leaning anti-cleric," by Bruce Johnston in London's Daily Telegraph; and "a clown with a tongue that slashed the establishment, including the Vatican," by Boston Herald reviewer Iris Fanger. No matter what he is called, Fo continues to speak in what Winer described as his "anarchic voice," the same one that was heard by the Nobel committee when they awarded him the prize in Stockholm.
If his critics and opponents thought their verbal or physical attacks would intimidate Fo, his scathing 2003 play Two-Headed Anomaly, which was performed at Milan's Piccolo Teatro, proved them wrong. This time, Fo turns his attention to Italy's notorious prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. In the satire, Fo attacks the prime minister for a variety of abuses of power, including passing laws for his own benefit, creating a media monopoly, and censoring journalistic criticism of the government. At one stage in the play, the prime minister, played by Fo, has Russian leader Vladimir Putin's brain transplanted into his head, making him a drunken, confused, Russian speaking, two-and-a-half foot dwarf. Much of the play focuses on the prime minister with his wife, played by Fo's wife, Rame. "These scenes give the play its greatest force. Berlusconi is depicted as a petulant adolescent who is constantly in need of approval while Lario is like a stern mother figure humoring her unruly, mischievous child with patronizing words," wrote Antonion D'Ambroso in the Progressive. D'Ambroso went on to note that the play "represents Fo at his best, placing him in the tradition of Moliere and Ruzzante Beolco, the father of the commedia dell'arte." The play has so outraged some of those in power that Italian senator Marcello Dell'Utri, an associate of the prime minister, brought suit against Fo, asking for 1.25 million dollars in damages. Nick Vivarelli, writing in Variety, quoted Fo as responding, "It's just caricature. Any elements from reality have been widely reported and even written in books. The truth is, this is an attempt to shut us up. But we aren't going to stop." Fo is also author of The Peasants Bible and The Story of the Tiger, in which Fo takes five monologues from various Italian folklore stories and reworks them for his own satirical purposes.
Fo turned to memoir in his 2007 My First Seven Years (Plus a Few More): A Memoir, in which the playwright details his life growing up in the mountains of Italy on the shores of Lake Maggiore, listening to the stories his grandfather and the local fishermen and glassblowers spun at night. Fo goes on to show how this early exposure to narrative as well as his parents' nurturing of his imagination have affected his entire career. Fo also provides glimpses of adventures during World War II when his family, working with Italian partisans, helped to shepherd Jews and escaped Allied prisoners of war out of the country and into neutral Switzerland. Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman praised the "spare comic vignettes" with which Fo tells his story, and further observed that "many of these vignettes, ripe with ironic fun, are perfect for reading aloud." A Kirkus Reviews critic also commended the memoir, calling it a "pleasingly accessible picture of the faraway childhood that molded a modern artist." Library Journal contributor Jan Brue Enright had further praise, noting that "Fo charms the reader with vivid storytelling of his own." Reviewing My First Seven Years (Plus a Few More) for Publishers Weekly, a contributor concluded: "Writing with verve, wit and an imaginative flair, Fo reveals the roots of his caustic satires, his commedia del-l'arte style and his anarchistic attitudes."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Artese, Erminia, Dario Fo parla di Dario Fo, Lerici (Cosenza, Italy), 1977.
Behan, Tom, Dario Fo: Revolutionary Theatre, Pluto Press (London, England), 2000.
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 32, 1985, Volume 109, 1998.
Farrell, Joseph, and Antonio Scuderi, editors, Dario Fo: Stage, Text, and Tradition, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 2000.
Fellini, Federico, Federico Fellini & Dario Fo: Disegni Geniali, Mazzotta (Milan, Italy), 1999.
Fo, Dario, My First Seven Years (Plus a Few More): A Memoir, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Hirst, David L., Dario Fo and Franca Rame, Macmillan (London, England), 1989.
McAvoy, R.C., editor, Dario Fo and Franca Rame: The Theatre Workshops at Riverside Studios, Red Notes (London, England), 1983.
Mitchell, Tony, Dario Fo: People's Court Jester, Methuen (London, England), 1984.
Trussler, Simon, editor, File on Fo, Methuen (London, England), 1989.
Writers & Society in Contemporary Italy, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1984, pp. 167-190.
American Theatre, February, 1998, Ron Jenkins, "The Nobel Jester," pp. 22-24; October, 2001, Ron Jenkins, review of Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas, p. 12; April 1, 2006, "Conquered Fo," p. 14.
Aperture, summer, 1993; Ron Jenkins, "Drawing from the Imagination: The Comic Art of Dario Fo," pp. 12-19.
Atlantic Monthly, September, 1985, Charles C. Mann, review of Mistero buffo: Giullarata popolare.
Biography, January, 2007, Kathy English, review of My First Seven Years (Plus a Few More), p. 130.
Booklist, February 1, 2002, Jack Helbig, review of We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! and Other Plays: The Collected Plays of Dario Fo, p. 917; September 15, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of My First Seven Years (Plus a Few More), p. 16.
Boston Herald, April 19, 1999, Iris Fanger, review of We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!, p. O39; September 10, 2001, Terry Byrne, review of Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas, p. O36.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), November 17, 2000, Bruce Johnston, "Dario Fo Is Tipped As Milan Mayor."
Drama, third quarter, 1985, Phoebe Tait, "Political Clown," pp. 28-29.
Drama Review, September, 1972, A. Richard Sogliuzzo, "Dario Fo: Puppets for Proletarian Revolution," pp. 71-77; June, 1975, Suzanne Cowan, "The Throw-Away Theatre of Dario Fo," pp. 102-113; winter, 1992, James Fisher, review of Tricks of the Trade, p. 171.
Entertainment Weekly, October 27, 2006, Melissa Rose Bernardo, review of My First Seven Years (Plus a Few More), p. 76.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2006, review of My First Seven Years (Plus a Few More), p. 819.
Library Journal, February 15, 2002, Thomas E. Luddy, review of We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!, p. 143; December 1, 2006, Jan Brue Enright, review of My First Seven Years (Plus a Few More), p. 124.
Los Angeles Times, September 3, 1998, Laurie Winer, "Nobel Prize Winner's Anarchic, Loony Tone Comes through in We Won't Pay!," pp. 6, 29.
Modern Drama, June, 1985, Martin W. Walsh, "The Proletarian Carnival of Fo's Non si paga! Non si paga!," pp. 211-222; December, 1989, Mimi D'Aponte, "From Italian Roots to American Relevance: The Remarkable Theatre of Dario Fo," pp. 532-544; March, 1990, Joylynn Wing, "The Performances of Power and the Power of Performance: Rewriting the Police State in Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist," pp. 139-149; spring, 1998, Joseph Farrell, "Variations on a Theme: Respecting Dario Fo," pp. 19-29.
New Society, March 13, 1980, John Lahr, review of Accidental Death of an Anarchist.
New York Times, August 5, 1983, Frank Rich, review of Orgasmo Adulto Escapes from the Zoo; February 15, 1984, Mel Gussow, review of Accidental Death of an Anarchist; November 16, 1984, Frank Rich, review of Accidental Death of an Anarchist.
Partisan Review, 1984, Joel Schechter, "The Un-American Satire of Dario Fo," pp. 112-119.
Progressive, April, 2004, Antonion D'Ambroso, "The Playwright vs. the Prime Minister," review of Two-Headed Anomaly, p. 32.
Publishers Weekly, August 14, 2006, review of My First Seven Years (Plus a Few More), p. 193.
Theatre, spring, 1979, Suzanne Cowan, "Dario Fo, Politics, and Satire: An Introduction to Accidental Death of an Anarchist," pp. 7-11.
Theatre Journal, October, 1993, J.L. Wing, "The Iconicity of Absence: Dario Fo and the Radical Invisible," pp. 303-315.
Times (London, England), May 15, 2002, Maureen Paton, "Still a Worthy Fo: Interview," p. 4.
Times Literary Supplement, June 17, 2005, Laura Collura, review of Always We Kids, p. 9.
Variety, September 17, 2001, Markland Taylor, review of Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas, p. 28; March 24, 2003, Matt Wolf, review of Accidental Death of an Anarchist, p. 36; December 26, 2005, Nick Vivarelli, review of Italy Seeks More Hustle and Fo: Local Heroes Find Export Success, Though the Home Front Stays Stuck in Past, p. 32.
Washington Post, August 27, 1983, David Richards, review of Orgasmo Adulto Escapes from the Zoo.
World Literature Today, autumn, 1992, Giovanni d'Angelo, review of Tricks of the Trade, p. 707; autumn, 1998, review of Manuale Minimo Dell'Attore, p. 813; spring, 1999, Giovanni D'Angelo, review of Libero! Marino E Innocente!
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (April 30, 2007), "Dario Fo."
Nobel Prize Internet Archive,http://almaz.com/nobel/ (July 18, 2002).