Fools and Jesters in Literature, Art, and History: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook

By Vicki K. Janik; Emmanuel S. Nelson | Go to book overview

from a female viewpoint. While this dialogue is not substantially different from the old Colombina / Isabella exchange in the scenario quoted earlier, here it is also an ironic treatment of feminist polemic.

Franca Rame has devoted her professional life to creating an essential comic space for a satire that is directed first at social conventions and then is focused more sharply on the unfairness of the economic and political conditions of contemporary society. First known for her 1950s dumb-blond film roles, in the late 1960s Rame became involved with roles that were increasingly politically committed. Since 1977, beginning with Parliamo di donne (Let's Talk about Women) and Tutta casa, letto e chiesa (A Woman All Home, Bed, and Church), Franca Rame openly revealed Fo's and her concern for the condition of women in Italy.

The actors of the original commedia dell'arte were too concerned with their immediate survival to bring forth authentic, socially subversive messages in their plays. Fo simply uses an adaptation or selection of styles from past commedia plays (mostly taken from old scenarios belonging to Rame's family) to bring us face-to-face with contemporary social and political causes of a deep-rooted European theatrical tradition. Accordingly, he proves that commedia dell'arte is an actual language, and that if there is to be a regeneration of the theatrical medium in the next century, it must come via the reempowering of the performer, rather than the continued hegemony of playwright and director.

In conclusion, if we reexamine the term "commedia dell'arte, " we must stress that arte can be translated into English not only as art, but also as craft, and know-how. Dario Fo underlines that it also indicates license: the granting to actors of a professional and therefore protected status. History has not settled on the most accurate locution of commedia dell'arte, according to Dario Fo: "I find correct, in fact, the idea proposed by some scholars of calling this genre instead of Commedia dell'Arte, comedy of the comedians or, more specifically of the actors. The entire theatrical translation rests on their shoulders: The actor as histrion and author, stage manager, storyteller, director" (14-15).


SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPH

Arlequin et ses masques: Actes du Colloque Franco-Italien de Dijon. (5-7, Septembre 1991). Dijon: Publications de l'Université de Bourgogne, 1991.

Beaumont Cyril W. The History of Harlequin. London: Beaumont, 1926.

Cairns Christopher. "Dario Fo and the Commedia dell'Arte." In Studies in the Commedia dell'Arte, ed. David J. George and Christopher J. Gossip. Cardiff: U of Wales P, 1993. 247-265.

Cottino-Jones Marga. "Franca Rame on Stage: The Militant Voice of a Resisting Woman." Italica 72.3 (Autumn 1995): 321-339.

Daniel Howard. The Commedia dell'Arte and Jacques Callot. Sydney: Wentworth, 1965.

Duchartre Pierre Louis. La comédie italienne. Paris: Librairie de France, 1925.

Enciclopedia Garzanti dello Spettacolo. Milan: Garzanti, 1977.

Falavolti Laura, ed. Commedie dei comici dell'arte. Turin: UTET, 1982.

-153-

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