Dario Fo was born on March 24, and during his lifetime was said to be one of the world’s great modern actors, a world renowned mime artist, and an excellent improviser, who regularly used to perform improvised topical skits about political event. As well as this, Fo is seen as the quintessential twentieth century commedia dell’arte creator and performer. However, contrary to commedia’s satirical viewpoints on society itself, his works are a satire of politics and institutions. As a young boy, Dario studied and imitated the gestures and actions of the local storytellers (who were referred to as the fabulatori). He was soon able to tell their tales as well as they could, and was considered by the locals as an expert on the techniques of the fabulatori. The fabulatori were Fo’s first and perhaps greatest influence, as his first works were improvised skits based on the tales he had heard from them. Later in his career, Fo also drew on mime artist Jacques LeCoq’s performances and the Rame family theatre for inspiration in his pieces. Fo believed that the chief quality of acting was souplesse (flexibility). He is quoted as saying “What distinguishes great actors from average actors is their souplesse. This means that they have a great understanding of the technique of acting, and they understand so deeply, and are involved in, what they are performing, they don’t ‘splash about’...They don’t show that they are exerting themselves. They make you forget they are acting.”1 This is widely acknowledged among those interested in, and involved in, theatre in present day too. Those who develop their character and get themselves far enough into their role to have the ability to walk, talk and improvise without breaking the believability of the performance are actors we consider superior in their profession. This stems from Fo’s belief that flexibility is essential in acting. Dario Fo would regularly begin his performances by simply stepping onto the stage from the...
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