Italian dramatist and performer known for his controversial political satires. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997.
Born in San Giano, Fo has described himself as a ‘maniac’; his plays, inspired by circus, farce, slapstick, and the surreal as well as by the classical tradition of the commedia dell'arte, have made him a powerful force in the Italian theatre. Forming his first company in 1957, Fo was constrained by state censorship and compelled to premiere his Archangels Don't Play the Pintables (1959) in more liberal Belgium. In 1968 he established a new ensemble, La Nuova Scena, to present his one-man show Mistero Buffo, an idiosyncratic reinterpretation of the medieval mystery plays.
The Piazza Fontana bombing incident in Milan (1969) and the associated death of the anarchist Pinelli inspired Fo's most celebrated play, Accidental Death of an Anarchist (1970), which makes use of black humour to expose the horrors of torture and state oppression. It played in Rome for four years and was subsequently staged in over forty countries. Can't Pay, Won't Pay (1974) is the best known of his other thirty-odd plays, many of which were co-written with his wife, the actress Franca Rame (1929– ), with whom he set up the drama cooperative La Comune in 1970. Although the couple separated in 1988, they continue to work together.
Subjects: Theatre — Literature.