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The Gospel According to Dario Fo

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 November 2012

Abstract

For over half a century the Italian Nobel playwright and performer Dario Fo (b. 1926) developed a theatre that challenged the authority of hegemonic culture, while promoting the validity and dignity of folk and popular cultures. In his satire of the Catholic Church, Fo presents the paternalistic God the Father as an instrument of suppression, while showing Jesus as being closer to the hearts of the folk. His references to apocryphal gospels – the gospels of early Christianity that were rejected by the Roman Church – play into this schema. In two of his plays, First Miracle of the Christ Child (from Tale of a Tiger and Other Stories) and Johan Padan Discovers America, Fo borrows elements from various apocryphal texts as a basis to underscore his father/son dichotomy, and to contest hegemonic dominance. At the same time, he presents a human Jesus who is more akin to the Jesus of certain apocrypha than to official gospels. Antonio Scuderi is Professor of Italian at Truman State University in Missouri, where he founded the Italian programme. His interdisciplinary articles on Italian performance traditions have been published in leading journals of theatre, folklore and literary studies, and in essays for books. He is the author of Dario Fo and Popular Performance (Legas, 1998) and co-editor of Dario Fo: Stage, Text, and Tradition (Southern Illinois UP, 2000). His latest book, Dario Fo: Framing, Festival, and the Folkloric Imagination (Lexington Books, 2011), examines the influence of concepts derived from folk culture, anthropology, and Gramscian Marxism on the development of Fo's theatrical praxis.

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Research Article
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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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