By Kerianne M. Tupac
The U-M Department of Theatre & Drama presents Nobel Laureate Dario Fo’s satirical farce Trumpets & Raspberries in the Arthur Miller Theatre in Ann Arbor.
The performance on Thursday, November 17 at 7:30 PM is sold out. Limited seating remains for the performances on November 18 & 19 at 8 PM and November 20 at 2 PM. U-M Associate Professor of Theatre Malcolm Tulip directs.
An influential Italian theatre artist and political satirist, Dario Fo is one of the world’s most frequently performed living playwrights. From the sensational play Mistero Buffo in 1969, to works including Accidental Death of an Anarchist and We Can’t Pay, We Won’t Pay, Fo has continuously created plays that pair popular entertainment with controversial political commentary.
His works, often subject to censorship, use traditional forms of commedia dell’arte, which include improvisation and audience interaction. In 1997, Fo was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for “[his] blend of laughter and gravity [that] opens our eyes to abuses and injustices in society and also the wider historical perspective in which they can be placed.” Premiering in 1981, Trumpets and Raspberries was based upon the 1978 kidnapping of the left-wing politician Aldo Moro by the terrorist Red Brigades.
The story revolves around a union worker named Antonio who, while rescuing a man from a burning car, finds himself under gunfire from the man’s would-be kidnappers. In escaping, Antonio accidentally leaves his coat behind on the disfigured victim, who turns out to be the wealthy Fiat industrialist Giovanni Agnelli, Antonio’s boss.
When the unconscious Agnelli ends up at the hospital, everyone assumes he’s Antonio – and the plastic surgeons mistakenly reconstruct Agnelli’s face to look like Antonio’s. Mix in Antonio’s emotional, estranged wife; his loving mistress; secret agents; and inept detectives, and the result is reminiscent of Marx Brother’s antics.
Joining Tulip on the creative team is Assistant Professor Christianne Myers as costume designer (Suddenly Last Summer). Two undergraduate students, scenic designer Lisa Griebel, a senior in the Department of Theatre & Drama, and lighting designer Charles Malott, a junior in the College of Engineering studying computer science, make their mainstage debut.
Following the performance of Trumpets & Raspberries on Friday, November 18 will be Curtain Calls, a post-performance discussion moderated by Tulip and featuring members of the cast and creative team. Curtain Calls offer an opportunity for audience members to talk with artists about each production. Sponsored by the Friends of Theatre & Drama, the discussions are free and open to all.