A reported two million people watched, Mar. 18, Nobel Prize laureate Dario Fo's latest show Marino libero! Marino e innocente (Marino is free! Marino is innocent) aired by national television channel Rai Due.
The show, recorded Mar. 16 and 17 during two sell-out nights at Milan's Teatro Nazionale, threw strong invective at the Italian judicial system.
Fo, who was joined on stage by his wife, actress Franca Rame, conducted a three-year research on the trial against Adriano Sofri, Ovidio Bompressi and Giorgio Pietrostefani; three members of extreme left wing movement "Lotta continua" who are serving a 22-year sentence for the murder of police officer Luigi Calabresi in Milan on May 17, 1972.
Fo argued that the final sentence of Sofri, Bompressi and Pietrostefani, which became effective only on January 22, 1997, 25 years after Calabresi's death, after six trials and an endless sequence of petitions, was based upon a contradictory and inaccurate statement given in 1988 by Leonardo Marino, himself a former member of "Lotta Continua".
Marino libero! Marino e innocente was Dario Fo's first appearance on stage after he was awarded, last December in Stockholm, with the 1997 Nobel Prize for Literature. The decision, which came as a surprise to most, created a strong debate among Italian intellectuals: many opposed it, claiming that Fo's writing was not 'pure' literature. Dario Fo, 72, is one of the most successful Italian actors and dramatists of the century. During his life-long career he attacked capitalism and government corruption in such plays as Seventh: Thou Shalt Steal a Little Less, and It's Always the Devil's Fault. In 1967 he established his own group, La Nuova Scena, to seek working class audiences and worked mainly inside factories, warehouses and social centres. It was succeeded by the co-operative group La Comune, formed in 1970, for which he wrote the highly successful socialist farces Accidental Death of an Anarchist (performed in London and New York), about a prisoner in custody's fall from a window and We Can't Pay, We Won't Pay. In 1993 Fo wrote a one-man show, Johan Padan a la Descoverta de le Americhe, about the discovery of the American continent from the point of view of a poor sailor from an Italian mountain village who casually joined Columbus' crew. Last summer he directed his new show Il diavolo con le zinne starring his wife Franca Rame and the popular actor Giorgio Albertazzi.
Fo also wrote a number of short one-woman plays with Franca Rame, groups of which were performed in London and New York. His most successful show, however, remains his one-man Mistero Buffo, which he has performed all over the world since 1969 and for which he created "gramelot", an invented language in which he mingled the dialects of Northern Italy with foreign languages, including English and French.
--By Stefano Curti