We have lost a teacher and artisitc father. Our hearts go out to all the people Dario Fo touched with his work and his vision of a better world.
When Fo was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1997, the Swedish committee praised his achievement in reviving the traditions of the giullari – the jester-cum-minstrels of the middle ages who improvised their comedy, jibing at the establishment of the times. His greatest achievement as an actor-author was Mistero Buffo (1969), a reworking of medieval mystery plays, which he performed with masterly skill as a one-man show, making exhilarating use of an onomatopoeic language called grammelot and a mixture of dialects.
It was with Mistero Buffo that Fo’s creative progress touched the heights of genius. These stories and parables, including the resurrection of Lazarus and the marriage at Cana, were powered by Fo’s mimicry and linked together by his erudite patter, which left audiences in fits of laughter as he drew parallels between the past and the present. His grotesque interpretation of religious situations, imaginary and real, was considered blasphemous only by the most bigoted of spectators.
For Fo, the church was like a theatre. We are left humbled and inspired to keep learning by his theater.