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Dario Fo: The function of the madman in Morte accidentale di un anarchico. Discuss with reference to the text.

Dario Fo: The function of the madman in Morte accidentale di un anarchico. Discuss with reference to the text.

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This is an analysis of Dario Fo's work Morte accidentale di un anarchico with specific reference to how Fo uses the character Il Matto to argue his philosophical and ideological position.
This is an analysis of Dario Fo's work Morte accidentale di un anarchico with specific reference to how Fo uses the character Il Matto to argue his philosophical and ideological position.

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Sep 01, 2012
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10/27/2013

 
Dario Fo: The function of the madman in “
 Morte accidentale di un anarchico
”.Discuss with reference to the text:
Dario Fo is an intellectually complex character who believes in the power of popular culture toeffect social and political change, if not revolution. His artistry is grounded in the rich traditionaltechniques of the
 giullare, commedia dell’arte
, and the
 fabulatori
traditions. His philosophical andideological position and his theatrical expression demonstrate many influences including Brecht,Shakespeare, Gramsci, Totò, and Franca Rame’s popular theatrical tradition of 
commedia dell’Arte.
Fo is utterly grounded in Italian theatrical history (the strolling minstrel, the street jester, theimprovising harlequin) even though as a playwright he deals with up to the minute contemporaryissues.Brecht’s influence on Fo may be summarised in terms of what Brecht perceived to be the goal of theatre in the modern era, namely to educate – to expose hidden contradictions in society. Brechtdeveloped the notion of the epic theatre, anti-cathartic in nature, which causes the audience toreflect and think about the issues presented to them perhaps provoking a desire to effect change. Heemployed ‘alienation effects’ (breaking down of the fourth wall; addressing the audience directly)to achieve his objectives. Fo’s theatrical model is loosely based on this theatrical methodology.
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Fo applied this methodology by adopting and adapting the medieval model of theatrical performance, the
 giullare
, in order to produce ’spectacle’. The
 giullare
(pre-commedia) was amedieval strolling player who performed to the peasants of medieval Europe in a form which wasgrotesque and full of irony. The oral tradition of the
 giullare
served to express, communicate, andspread current and topical ideas. The
 giullare
was often on the run from persecution by theauthorities or trying to avoid censorship of their subversive often anarchic ideas or assimilation intothe courts which partially became the ‘official’ tradition of the commedia dell’arte. For Fo, the
 giullare
was a modern entertainer who expressed in satirical and comic forms the feelings of thecommon people which they themselves found difficult to express.Another dominant influence on Fo was the
 fabulatori
who told stories while they worked, makinguse of grotesque irony, wild exaggeration, and rude wit in their tall tales. The focus was always onthe plot, the story, and the narrative momentum holding the listeners’ attention. Fo’s drama isfounded on this narrative momentum of endlessly changing situations; Fo’s theatre is a storyteller’stheatre in which the plot always takes precedence over the character – this is in direct conflict withthe Stanislavsky tradition.Another seminal influence on Fo was Gramsci who was imprisoned under Mussolini. Fo read hisPrison Notebooks which advocated the primacy of culture as a determinate of human action becauseculture conditions and determines expectations. If people were to be liberated they had to be
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liberated from false expectations. Fo saw an opportunity for cultural change through theatre. Thisis in part why Fo has persisted with his grotesque, popular, comic, traditional, non-cathartic theatre – to effect revolutionary change. All of these influences are evident in
 Morte accidentale di unanarchico”.
In December 1970, almost exactly a year after the Piazza Fontana bombs, Fo’s play “
 Morteaccidentale di un anarchico”
opened in Milan. This play was conceived as a work of counter information following the actions of the police in blaming anarchists, not right wing terrorists, for the bombing of the bank in Milan. It is based on the Pinelli case: a Milanese anarchist railwayworker was charged with placing bombs in the Milan railway station in 1969, and then charged withthe bombing in Piazza Fontana, which killed 16 people. On December 15
th
1969 Pinelli died after “falling” from a fourth floor window of the Milan police station where he was being interrogated.Fo’s plot involves an investigation by a madman,
 Il Matto
, with a genius for disguise, conducted inthe fictional offices mirroring the real ones where Pinelli fell to his death. Fo, brilliantly establishesa continuity with the past (Italian popular theatre), while trying to effect change in contemporaryItaly, with a view to creating a new Italy.The play opens with
 Il Matto
discussing his record of impersonation and establishes his‘credentials’ as a certified madman who enjoys a fool’s licence to state the truth because he is a
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