archiveauthordonateinfoloadingloginsearchstarsubscribe

Culture. Jacopo Fo: "We are communists and atheists, but my father never stopped talking to my mother and asking for her advice."

In Milan, the last act of a great artist happy not to be a moderate

This is the end. The comedy was amazing, but the last act brought sadness.

Someone remarked on the cleansing power of the rain. It was pouring, and it was perfect. Jacopo Fo, before departing toward the Cimitero Monumentale, greeted the crowd at the Duomo square with an ancient gesture, the clenched fist: “Thanks comrades, thank you.” He said comrades. This is the end of the show. This is what concerns us.

The son cried during the speech, but there was a moment, just one, when he also tried to comfort us with a joke. Like Dario Fo. “We are communists and atheists because my father never stopped talking to my mother and ask for her advice. We are also a bit animists, because you cannot really die, come on! I’m sure they are now together laughing hard.” Communists and atheists. Another thing that concerns us. The facade of the Duomo, swollen with rain, looks bigger than it is.

Thousands of people hiding under umbrellas greeted Dario Fo for the last time. Not too many. The square was not as full as it could have been. Or should have been. Many others have remained hidden at home. Even in death, the Nobel Prize continues to divide and provoke both the right and left. A sign of vitality, an open wound which must be dealt with. The opportunities will not fail. In Milan, it is now the time for monuments to the memory of a genius, albeit posthumously.

The lifelong friend, Carlo Petrini, reminded those present and those absent that no one can afford to separate the artist from the politician. Even people in good faith. “And those subversive of the Swedish Academy, which awarded his Nobel with a perfect synthesis; certainly knew it: following the tradition of medieval jesters, he mocks power by restoring dignity to the oppressed. And we must strongly reaffirm this tight symbiosis between his art and his political commitment. Thinking of Dario without politics is, like they say back home, thinking of a good wine made without grapes.”

The founder of Slow Food called on the crowd to do what his friend would have suggested: namely to stop crying. “We will uncork the bottles, we will sing, we will dance, we will make love, we will find the extraordinary joy of calling each other comrades not only because we share the bread, but also because we share the joy, fraternity and our mutual love, without malice.” The square listened in silence.

Everybody’s cheeks were wet, but some shed a few tears when Jacopo Fo took the stage. He was deeply touched. When he was little, his father used to tell him stories while he was shaving. He told him the story of a people that had a brilliant idea to beat the powerful entrenched in impregnable fortress: Fill it with shit! For sure they will surrender. Here, this is how it is done. We must find an idea. Find it. “It can happen that people without power, who have nothing to lose, can take over power.” This was Dario Fo’s teaching on the edge of the bathtub.

The Band of Brass is an echo that occasionally releases into the air the notes of “Bella Ciao” (a partisan song), but the song of the last act is another: “Stringimi forte i polsi.” A love song Dario wrote to Franca in 1962. On a day like this, the role the child must be the most difficult to sustain: “Despite what had been done to them, they never folded. Their life was on stage, it was not merely histrionic ability. People loved Dario and Franca for this, not because they were good actors, but because they saw someone who was really present.”

The applause was just a rustle as the people cried — a generation struck at the time of the occupation of Palazzina Liberty is mourning. They are now in their 60s and 70s. They are the majority in this square. They still haven’t given up. It never stopped raining. Some people arrived and departed alone.

The young people, at least those who can be called “young” at the funeral of a nonagenarian, did not stop fidgeting and making noise even at his deathbed. This time they missed an opportunity. A Nobel Prize laureate is dead. There was also the excuse of literature. The schools are not there. It would have been a perfect Saturday for a unique and not ritualistic opportunity.

There is no noise or party, however; Dario Fo would be sorry. The Cantiere community center group bears the insignia of the only organized presence. Its banner says: I am not a moderate. That was the manifesto of Dario Fo in 2006, when he presented his crazy candidacy for mayor of Milan.

On the stage, close to Jacopo Fo with his fist still clenched, there stood the new mayors of a new political season which is difficult to swallow for those in the square. Beppe Sala, Chiara Appendino, Virginia Raggi. There was also Beppe Grillo. “Now let’s have a bit of silence for Dario,” said the head of the Five Star Movement.

ilmanifesto-global-default-image

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your weekly briefing of progressive news.

You have Successfully Subscribed!