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Dario Fo

Awards: Nobel Prize in Literature-1997. He became both the first Italian to be selected for the award since Eugenio Montale in 1975 and the first Italian playwright to be chosen since Luigi Pirandello in 1934

Nobel Committee in its citation praised Fo as a writer   "who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden"

Born: 24/03/1926 in Sangiano which is around 60 km North-West from Milan, Italy

Citizen: Italy

Language: Italian

Dario Fo, arguably the most widely performed playwright in contemporary world theatre, was born in a middle class family. His father worked in Italian State Railways, a job, that required great deal of travel for the family also. The Senior Fo was an actor also and Dario's mother was also a writer. Thus Dario inherited the trait of writing and acting and story telling from his parents.

  Dario studied in Brera Academy in Milan but the chaos of Second World War ended his studies. He actively helped his father in smuggling allied soldiers and refugees to Switzerland in the disguise of Lombard peasants.

   After the War, he returned to Brera Academy taking up course in Architecture but left his studies before the final examination. This was followed by a nervous breakdown & doctors advised him rest and also told him to do things that relaxed him. Fo took to painting. Fo married Franca Rame of a theatrical family in June, 1954. The couple had a son who also became a writer.

  Fo wrote and acted in plays with a wide spectrum of themes such as abortion, corruption, drug addiction, racism, organized crime, war , sexism etc.He  is also considered as one of the world's most important contemporary playwrights, forging subversive comedy, clowning, unusual linguistic experimentation, and brilliant playwriting into a comedy of complete originality. In a first-person monologue that bends and mutates language and historical fact, Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas is a brilliant, vividly imagined retelling of Christopher Columbus's voyage to America. Told by a last-minute conscript assigned to clean the shipboard pig stalls, who goes on to be adopted by a tribe of Indians and help them fight conquistadors, it posits a riotous alternate history in which the dynamics between native and white, male and female, history and comedy are never what they seem.

Reaction to Fo getting the Nobel Prize was varied. The announcement came as a shock to Italians and non-Italians alike. Umberto Eco expressed delight that the award had been given to someone who "does not belong to the traditional academic world. However,  Italian literary critic Carlo Bo was mystified: "I must be too old to understand. What does this mean? That everything changes, even literature has changed." Fo's fellow Italian laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini expressed bewilderment when asked for her thoughts and wondered if Fo were Italian. Mario Luzi, a poet regarded as a likely next Italian recipient at the time, slammed the phone down on one reporter: "I'll say only this. I've just about had it up to here!" Reaction from the  many English-speaking countries regarding Fo's work was equally fierce  as many regarded his work as unfashionable and outdated, belonging to the 1970s and 1980s

Notable Works: Un morto da vendere  -- Corpse for Sale(1958), Non tutti i ladri vengono a nuocere -- The Virtuous Burglar(1958), Gli arcangeli non giocano al flipper-- Archangels don't Play Pinball(1959),  Morte accidentale di un anarchico-- Accidental Death of an Anarchist(1970), Lettera dalla Cina -- Letter from China (1989) , Il Papa e la strega-- The Pope and the Witch (1989)

Dario Fo

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