St. Bonaventure University Celebrates the Work of Dario Fo:  

Writer, Actor, Artist, Director, Designer and Activist

Photo of Dario Fo

This fall St. Bonaventure University will be hosting the North American premiere of "Francis, The Holy Jester" ("Lu Santo Jullare, Francesco") by Dario Fo, Italy's foremost living playwright and 1997 Nobel Prize recipient.  The performance will be by Mario Pirovano, who is a long-time associate of Fo and a translator and performer of Fo's work.  "Francis the Holy Jester" is Pirovano's translation of Fo's work.


Francis the Holy Jester is a one-person play, with the actor assuming the roles of a whole range of characters from 13th Century Italy:  Popes and Cardinals, Dukes and Duchesses, soldiers on the battle field, traders in the marketplace, as well as Francis. Fo reconstructs several episodes from the life of Francis, including his sermon in Bologna, his visit to Pope Innocent III, his encounter with the wolf of Gubbio, and his death, all performed with humor, passion and extraordinary energy.  This is a show without props, without scenery and with the simplest of costume creating an intimate relation between audience and performer.  Much is demanded of the actor who presents Francis as preaching with word, gesture and movement, following the tradition of la commedia dell’arte.  This is a play that relies solely on the considerable skill of a highly experienced performer and the imagination of the audience.


Mario Pirovano translated and performed both English and Italian versions in churches and theaters throughout Italy, UK, France and Africa.  In 2009, he performed the play at the Edinburgh Festival to great critical acclaim:  ‘This production is the most entertaining and funny history lesson you could hope to see, given a captivating performance by the charismatic Pirovano.’ -David Chadderton, British Theatre Guide; ‘a charismatic storyteller, brilliant actor, and passionate translator… it was an excellent performance.’ Minka Paraskevova, Fringe Guru.


"The great revolution of Saint Francis was precisely to laugh, to smile, to be ironic, to play down one's own importance and understand that what matters are the simple everyday things in life."

  Dario Fo


Francis and the Birds by Dario Fo



Samples of Dario Fo's Artwork


Click on a thumbnail below to see a larger sample image.


Francesco drop.jpg (1691080 bytes) screen5.jpg (2199336 bytes) screen3.jpg (2474933 bytes) ruzzante galileo.jpg (1223132 bytes) la ragazza muta.jpg (1615550 bytes)
francispropschurch1.jpg (1970539 bytes) strippingFrancis.jpg (2215896 bytes) francis arms1.jpg (5045092 bytes) francisBirds.jpg (7847755 bytes) untitled red.jpg (1581247 bytes)

Art-Related Links of Interest

Additional Resources

Mario Pirovano's website: Includes Dario Fo's Press release re "Francis" Press Reviews. Mario Pirovano, 2009. Web. 21 Sept. 2012. <>.

Dario Fo - Biography., 1997. Web. 21 Sept. 2012. < fo-bio.html>. 



Fo, Dario, and Matthew Fleury. "Dario Fo: 'L'Arte e Contaminata.'" BOMB 12 (1985): 76-77. JSTOR. Web. 21 Sept. 2012. <>. 


Marenco, Franco. "The Rise and Fall of Irony." World Literature Today 71.2 (1997): 303-08. JSTOR. Web. 21 Sept. 2012. <>. 

Maceri, Domenico. "Jester of the Working Class." World Literature Today 72.1 (1998): 9-14. JSTOR. Web. 21 Sept. 2012. <>.  

Attisani, Antonio, and Jane House. "Franciscan Performance: A Theatre Lost and Found Again." PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 25.1 (2003): 48-60. JSTOR. Web. 21 Sept. 2012. <>.

Fo, Dario, and Paul Claesson. "'Contra Jogulatores Obloquentes': Nobel Lecture 1997." World Literature Today 72.1 (1998): 4-8. JSTOR. Web. 21 Sept. 2012. <>.

Scuderi, Antonio. "Unmasking the Holy Jester Dario Fo." Theatre Journal 55.2 (2003): 275-90. JSTOR. Web. 21 Sept. 2012. <>. 


NOTE: To use these JSTOR links from off-campus, search for our library and login with your SBU login ID and last name as password.  If you are from the community and do not have an SBU login ID, please stop at the reference desk to obtain a copy of an article you wish to read.




Additional Reviews


Hounsell-Robert, Katy. "A Saint for Satirists." Catholic Herald 6 Aug. 2010: n. pag. Print. 

Thicknesse, Robert. "Subversive Intent." The Tablet 25 Apr. 2009: 30-30. Print.



Compiled by Mary Ellen Ash
September 21, 2012