So, today, Dario Fo, famous Italian playwright, died at the age of 90. For me, he's one of the best and no one beats him on the stage at satire. "Accidental Death of an Anarchist" is a great play, so is "Mistero buffo". But I have bone to pick with American theatre...
Why don't we stage his works more often in the US? I never once have heard an American who specializes in or loves theatre drop his name, for however much we name drop Miller, Albee, and Tenessee Williams. Is it because his work seems out of step with the times, too old for our 21st-century sensibilities? Or was he simply too Communist? I'm young, so maybe 35 years ago he was more frequently staged and I wasn't around to see it.
It's a shame. I think reading non-English-language literature is really damn important for the development of a multi-cultural society. And it's important for theatre too!
Last edited on Fri Oct 14th, 2016 04:23 am by RTurco
Americans usually don't get Joe Orton. And American directors and actors usually "punch up" their comedy to being circus/clown or go so broad over-the-top stylization it is unbelievable. Audiences think Saturday Night Live is Farce or Satire. It is not. Those are comedic skits. Skits are meant to be short and to end...quickly. Neither dramatic arc nor plot are necessary in a skit.
Even great comedians like Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, whose TV series "The Honeymooners" as brilliant as it was, was not Farce. Though it was based on great Irish characters most notably from "Juno and the Paycock" by Sean O'Casey. (Both of those men were also brilliant actors. Check out Gleason in "The Hustler" with Paul Newman. And Carney won an Academy Award for “Best Actor” working with…of all things… a CAT...in “Harry and Tonto.”
As you know, I am a great fan of your own work. Keep working.
Interesting that Americans might not understand irony and satire. I've heard that before too, and yet, so many shows like The Simpsons and Seinfeld are popular, which make heavy use of this kind of humor, so I'm not so sure that I buy into it.
For that 1984 Broadway production of "Accidental Death", it seems that they wrote a new translation of the text, which could have missed the wit and cutting edge of the original. Translations can make or break the quality of world theatre brought to an American/English audience. Why not use the official translation?
Alan Cumming's production seems like it was right on the nose, from the blurb you linked. Looks it did a good thing by giving it a historical context that resonated with English audiences.
I think that might be why "Accidental Anarchist" flops abroad sometimes: its historical context (the suspicious death of Giuseppe Pinelli) is lost on the foreign public.
The Mark Blanco incident is really ironic. As if Fo himself had wrote it!
Makes you want to write a political farce for our American times, doesn't it?
Fo's scripts are more outlines and are not easily staged as a traditional play.
They require actors with more than just acting training. Mime, dance and even circus skills are also required.
There's a physical theatre company in my town that also adds a lot of puppetry - and by puppetry, I mean puppets 8 to 12 feet tall - as well as music and gymnastics into their shows, as well as creative projections and video. I think they could probably faithfully do one of his scripts.
I definitely agree that Fo demands a lot out of actors. Especially in terms of farce and slapstick. But I feel that a competent director and company could pull it off.
I have read a few of Fo's plays in both the original Italian and English, including Mistero buffo, Archangels Don't Play Pinball, Accidental Death, and Trumpets and Raspberries. I never thought that his plays were outlines, they seem pretty fleshed-out to me.