The Poets’ Theatre March production of Mistero Buffo, at the Modern Theatre of Suffolk University in Boston, was not only a return of Fo’s great, often one-man, show, it was also a celebration and memorial. March 24th of this year was Dario Fo’s 90th birthday, and 2016 is the 30th anniversary of Fo’s original 1986 theatrical collaboration in Cambridge/Boston at the American Repertory Theater, which also marks the 30th anniversary of Fo’s first voyage to the States, as a visa was long refused to the politically subversive dramaturge.
Bob Scanlan and Walter Valeri’s new American translation of the play brings to life, in English―with use of Italian, French, Latin, and, of course, the Boston accent/dialect―Fo’s original Po Valley grammelot. The translators remember what Vladimir Mayakovsky said of his 1918 Mystery-Bouffe: that future artists had to renew it, update it to the very second of performance, make it relevant. They remember that Fo, himself, renewed and revised from medieval counter-cultural jongleur acts for the play’s episodes and from Mayakovsky for the title. Thus, they do not try to translate literally, but relevantly.
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