Theatre Foreplay Presents a Staged Reading of The Open Couple

This coming Sunday, November 13th, the Actors Repertory Company is presenting the first in its 2011/2012 Annual Theatre Foreplay Reading Series. This year we’re presenting three readings, starting with The Open Couple by Dario Fo and Franca Rame. In preparation for the reading I thought that a blog post with a little information about the play and playwrights will hopefully help to whet your appetite for the reading… the specific details:

The Open Couple
By: Dario Fo & Franca Rame

Sunday, November 13th at 7:30 PM
At Buddies In Bad Times in Tallulah’s Cabaret Space

Directed by Emma Mackenzie Hillier
Performed by Deborah Drakeford and Andre Sills
With a special cameo performance by Brendan McMurty-Howlett

The Open Couple

You want to be sexually liberated? Fine. Just ignore your partner’s neurotics in the corner…

Written in the 80’s, Open Couple is a caustic and furious comedy about marriage, sexual liberation, hypocrisy and identity. How far are you willing to compromise in order to keep your marriage? In the case of Dario and Franca’s play apparently quite far. At the behest of her husband, Antonia agrees to an open marriage only to suffer bouts of nerves, frustration and neglect. When she finally adapts to the situation, the roles are reversed and her husband experiences for the first time how it feels to be ignored and shoved aside.

This could certainly be categorized as a feminist play but more than anything it’s a comedy, a little absurdist and very caustic. The play is a great example of what happens when your expectation is flipped on its head.

A little about the playwrights…

Dario Fo is an Italian satirist, playwright, theater director, actor and composer. His dramatic work employs comedic methods of the ancient Italian commedia dell’arte, a theatrical style popular with the working classes. He currently owns and operates a theatre company with his wife, actress Franca Rame. He was awarded the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature, with the committee highlighting him as a writer “who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden”.

Fo’s works are characterized by criticisms of — among others — organized crime, political corruption, political murders, Catholic policy on abortion and conflict in the Middle East. His plays often depend on improvisation, commedia dell’arte style. His plays — especially Mistero Buffo — have been translated to 30 languages and when they are performed outside Italy, they are often modified to reflect local political and other issues. Fo encourages directors and translators to modify his plays as they see fit, as he finds this in accordance to the commedia dell’arte tradition of on-stage improvisation.
Fo campaigned for mayor of Milan in 2006 – he finished in second place.

Franca Rame is an Italian theatre actress and playwright. She is also the wife of Nobel Prize winning author Dario Fo and the mother of the writer Jacopo Fo.

Franca Rame was born in Parabiago, Lombardy, into a family with a long theatre tradition. She made her theatrical debut in 1951. Shortly thereafter, she met Dario Fo, whom she married in 1954. In 1958, she co-founded the Dario Fo–Franca Rame Theatre Company in Milan, with Fo as the director and writer, and Rame the leading actress and administrator.

Rame continued working with Fo through many plays and several theatre companies, popular success and government censorship. In the 1970s, Rame began writing plays (often stage monologues) of her own, such as Grasso è bello! and Tutta casa, letto e chiesa, which displayed a markedly feminist bent. In 1973, Rame was kidnapped and held by a fascist group commissioned by high ranking officials in Milan’s Carabinieri, the Italian military police. She returned to the stage after two months with new anti-fascist monologues.