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Columbia University Press
Fo, Dario
1926—, Italian playwright, actor, and director, b. Leggiuno Sangiano. Fo developed a sharp and irreverent satirical farce that is influenced by Bertholt Brecht and Antonio Gramsci as well as traditional commedia dell'arte (although less formal than the latter). Inspired by the circus and carnivals, his theater uses slapstick, puns, ridicule, and parody to explore social and political issues and to criticize authority of all kinds. A long-time member of the Communist party (he was denied entry into the United States in the early 1980s), Fo has often been critical of the policies of the Roman Catholic church, which has termed some of his plays blasphemous. Forceful, wittily anarchic, and often disturbing, his work was impeded by Italian censorship before 1962. In 1968, Fo and his wife, actress Franca Rame, with whom he has frequently collaborated in writing and acting, began presenting plays on contemporary issues. The most famous of these is Accidental Death of an Anarchist (1970), a farce about the alleged suicide of an anarchist in police custody. Among his more than 70 other plays are Mistero Buffo (1969), Can't Pay, Won't Pay (1974), The Pope and the Witch (1989), and The Devil with Boobs (1997). Fo was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1997.