Anarchy on the stage

By Christopher Wallace

The U’s Studio 115 production of Nobel Prize-winning Italian playwright Dario Fo’s “The Accidental Death of an Anarchist” highlights the struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat with the vivacious satire that permeates Fo’s work.

Based on the 1969 incident of an anarchist railway worker’s controversial death in the custody of police and the subsequent cover-up, the play moulds outlandish comedy into a scrutinizing lens that brings the reality of our political climate into sharp focus.

The play’s director, Sydney Cheek O’Donnell, spent time with Fo in Italy, doing doctoral research regarding his life-long theatrical collaborator Franca Rame and gaining valuable insight into the couple’s socialist philosophy and satirical methodology behind their theatrical performances.

Fo has been writing for the stage since the early ’40s, eventually immersing himself in every aspect of theater, from acting and directing to costume design and set construction. Approaching age 81, he maintains his dedication to political activism and artistic freedom.

Rame was born for the theater. Her family’s ties to the art extend back into the 17th century. Her career in theater began early; she made her stage debut in the arms of her mother when she was eight days old, playing the newborn son of Genevive of Brabant.

Fo and Rame’s career together has been fundamentally defined by their struggle against censorship and dedication to the liberation of values from the dictates of authority. Fittingly, their extensive rsum of performances and innovative body of work is augmented by an equally impressive number of countries in which their works have been censored and banned — 54, from Austria to Zimbabwe.

Performances of “The Accidental Death of an Anarchist” will be held on the first floor of the Performing Arts Building, adjacent to the U Bookstore, in Studio 115.

Evening performances are scheduled for today and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., along with matinees today at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $9 for the general public and $6 for students. For information regarding tickets, call 581-7100 or visit and for general information.