Dario FoDario Fo was born on 26 March 1926 in San Giano, a small town on Lago Maggiore in the province of Varese. His family consisted of: his father Felice, socialist, station master and actor in an amateur theatre company; his mother Pina Rota, a woman of great imagination and talent ; his brother Fulvio and his sister Bianca; and his maternal grandfather, who had a farm in Lomellina, where young Dario spent his childhood vacations.
During Dario's visits, his grandfather would travel around the countryside selling his produce from a big, horse-drawn wagon. To attract customers he would tell the most amazing stories. His satirical and timely chronicles earned him the nickname Bristìn (pepper seed). It was from his grandfather, sitting beside him on the big wagon, that Dario began to learn the rudiments of narrative rhythm.
Dario spent his childhood moving from one town to another, as his father's postings were changed at the whim of the railway authorities. But even though the geography remained in a flux, the cultural setting was always the same. As the boy grew, he became schooled in the local narrative tradition. With growing passion, he would sit in the taverns or the piazze and listen tirelessly to the master glass-blowers and fishermen, who - in the oral tradition of the fabulatore - would swap tall tales, steeped in pungent political satire. In 1940 he moved to Milan to study at the Brera Art Academy. After the war, he begins to study architecture at the Polytechnic, but interrupts his studies with only a few exams left to complete his degree. Towards the end of the war, Dario is conscripted into the army of the Salo republic. He manages to escape, and spends the last months of the war hidden in an attic store room. His parents are active in the resistance. At the end of the war, Dario returns to his studies at the Academy of Brera in Milan while attending courses in architecture at the Polytechnic. 1945-41 he turns his attention to stage design and theatre décor. He begins to improvise monologues. He moves with his family to Milan. In the immediate postwar years, Italian theatre undergoes a veritable revolution, pushed along mainly by the new phenomenon of piccoli teatri ["small theatres"] that play a key role in developing the idea of a "popular stage".
Fo is captured by this effervescent movement and proves to be an insatiable theatregoer. Dario begins to entertain his friends with tales as tall as those he heard in the lakeside taverns of his childhood. In the summer of 1950, Dario seeks out Franco Parenti who is enthralled by the young man's comical rendering of the parable of Cain and Abel, a satire in which Cain, poer nano ["poor little thing"], a miserable fool, is anything but evil. It's just that every time he tries, poer nano,to mimic the splendid, blond and blue-eyed Abel, he gets into trouble. After suffering one disaster after another, he finally goes crazy and kills the splendid Abel. Franco Parenti enthusiastically invites Fo to join his theatre company. Dario starts performing in Parenti's summer variety show. This is when he has his first "encounter" with Franca Rame - not in person, mind, but in the form of a photograph he sees at the home of some friends. He is thunderstruck! For a while he continues to work as assistant architect. But he soon decides to abandon his work and studies, disgusted by the corruption already rampant in the building sector.
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