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Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas

  • Sep 6, 2001 - Sep 16, 2001

  • Loeb Drama Center

  • Run Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes including 1 intermission

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Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas, by the 1997 Nobel Prize-winning Italian dramatist Dario Fo, describes the picaresque journey of a John Doe born in the plains of Lombardy (i.e., Padane) in the second half of the fifteenth century, who ends up living his life in the newly discovered American continent. In love with a beautiful witch, he flees Venice in order not to be charged with heresy himself and arrives in Seville, where the Inquisition is keeping the home stakes burning. Another bout of trouble forces Johan to take the next available boat, which lands him much to his surprise in Santo Domingo, and eventually shipwrecked on the coast of Florida. Here he encounters the local “savages” and finds himself closer in spirit to them than to his Spanish torturers. From being the designated breakfast of cannibals to becoming their leader and demi-god, Johan Padan tells a hilarious tale of discovery and survival, exploring the possibility of a peaceful coexistence between wildly different cultures. This actor’s tour-de-force will feature one of the A.R.T.’s most acclaimed and versatile Company members, Thomas Derrah, who has been hailed as “a clown of genius” and “a one-man circus, an animated cartoon of flesh and blood”—the perfect American counterpart to Fo himself.

Johan Padan is performed in English.

Appearing in New York at The Provincetown Playhouse, September 20–October 7.

Credits

Creative team

by

Dario Fo

The Italian dramatist, actor, and theatrical activist Dario Fo was first invited by the American Repertory Theater to perform in 1986, occasioning his first visit to the United States.

For many years Fo's plays have been performed all over the world, perhaps more than any other contemporary dramatist's, and his influence has been considerable. The A.R.T. produced his We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! in 1999 and the American premiere of Archangels Don't Play Pinball in 1988. Other works in his extensive oeuvre include Mistero Buffo, Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Trumpets and Raspberries, and most recently The Devil with Boobs, a satiric comedy set in the Renaissance.

Fo's strength is in the creation of texts that simultaneously amuse, engage, and provide perspectives. As in commedia dell'arte, where he often draws inspiration, Fo's plays are open to creative additions and dislocations, encouraging improvisation and influencing the audience in remarkable ways. His works have employed topics taken from current news, such as the rise of the Italian workers' movement, revolt in Chile, and the Palestinian situation, and they often include a discussion between actors and audience. As a bridge between popular culture and radical intellectuals, Fo's collective theater occupies a central place in contemporary Italian culture.

In recent years, working with his actress–wife, Franca Rame, Fo has dealt with women's issues in several plays, and together they have established a worldwide reputation for their biting satire in their writing and performances. Corruption in the Catholic Church and the Italian government, police brutality, abuses in the prison system, violations of human rights, the Mafia, rape, the denial of Italian women's access to divorce and abortion: Fo and Rame have made these dangerous political issues the subject matter of their theater. Drawing on traditions ranging from the commedia dell'arte to puppetry, clowning, and storytelling, they have subjected every institution, political party, power broker, corrupt organization, and controversial law in Italy to their formidable satirical powers. Over the years, they have been censored, banned, rebuked, denied visas—and played to packed houses all over the world.

Dario Fo's many international awards and honors include the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature, an honorary doctorate from the University of Westminster, and an Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

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Translated and directed by

Ron Jenkins

Translated and directed by

Ron Jenkins

Ron Jenkins (translator and director of Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas) began his research on Dario Fo in Italy in 1985 with the support of a Sheldon Fellowship from Harvard University. He was recently awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, which will enable him to spend much of the next year translating, directing, and writing about Fo's works. Mr. Jenkins's translations of Fo's plays have been produced by the American Repertory Theater (We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!) and Yale Repertory Theatre, among others. His book on Fo and Rame, entitled Dario Fo and Franca Rame: Artful Laughter, is being published this September by Aperture. The author of Subversive Laughter and Acrobats of the Soul, Mr. Jenkins has written about theater for the Village Voice, American Theatre, the Drama Review, and the New York Times. He has directed plays by Fo in Israel, Lithuania, and the U.S. He is professor, chair, and artistic director of Wesleyan University's theater department.

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Costume coordination by

Karen Eister

Jeannette Hawley

Costume coordination by

Karen Eister

Costume designer Karen Eister's designs at the American Repertory Theater prior to The Marriage of Bette and Boo include An Evening of Beckett, Beckett Trio, Macbeth; the A.R.T. New Stages productions of Silence, Cunning, ExileThe Lost Boys, Claptrap, Two by Korder, and Mrs. Sorkin Presents … ; and for the A.R.T. New Stages premiere and 1987 mainstage production of The Day Room. Ms. Eister earned her MFA in design at New York University. After several years of freelancing for television, fashion, and theater, she returned to Cambridge, where she has been cutting and draping costumes for the A.R.T.

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Costume coordination by

Jeannette Hawley

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Lighting supervision by

John Ambrosone

Lighting supervision by

John Ambrosone

Lighting Designer John Ambrosone has designed over thirty productions for the American Repertory Theater, including Lysistrata, Absolution, Marat/Sade, Othello, Animals and Plants, Mother Courage (2001 Elliot Norton Design Award), The Doctor's Dilemma, Three Farces and a Funeral, Nocturne, IvanovThe Cripple of Inishmaan, The King Stag, Boston Marriage, Charlie in the House of Rue, Valparaiso, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, How I Learned to Drive, Nobody Dies on Friday, Man and Superman, The Old Neighborhood, When the World Was Green (A Chef's Fable), Alice in Bed, Slaughter City, and Buried Child. On Broadway he designed The Old Neighborhood. Work in resident theaters includes the Alley Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, the Coconut Grove Playhouse, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Walnut Street Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, and Arena Stage. Mr. Ambrosone also has designed in Singapore, Moscow, Japan, Brazil, Taiwan, Mexico, Germany, and France.

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Sound supervision by

David Remedios

Sound supervision by

David Remedios

Sound designs by David Remedios have been heard in Sexual Perversity in Chicago/The Duck Variations, Romance, Trojan Barbie, Endgame, The Seagull, The Communist Dracula Pageant, Let Me Down Easy, When It’s Hot It’s Cole, Cardenio, Julius Caesar, Copenhagen, Donnie Darko, A Marvelous Party, No Man's Land, Oliver Twist, Britannicus, The Onion Cellar, The Island of SlavesOrpheus X, Romeo and Juliet, No Exit, Three Sisters (2005), The Keening, Amerika, Olly's Prison, Desire Under the Elms, Dido Queen of Carthage, The Provok'd Wife (original music and sound), The Miser, A Midsummer Night's Dream (2003), Snow in June, Lady with a Lapdog, The Sound of a Voice, Pericles, Highway Ulysses, Uncle Vanya, Lysistrata, Absolution, Marat/Sade, Stone Cold Dead Serious, Enrico IV, Othello, Animals and Plants, The Doctor's Dilemma, Mother Courage and Her Children, Three Farces and a Funeral, Antigone, Nocturne, How I Learned to Drive, and Man and Superman. He has also toured regionally and internationally with the A.R.T.  Other credits include Farragut North and Yankee Tavern (Contemporary American Theater Festival), The Merchant of Venice (Actor’s Shakespeare Project), Ah, Wilderness! (CenterStage Baltimore), The Diary of Anne Frank (New Rep), The Scottish Play (La Jolla Playhouse), Leap (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Daughter of Venus, Action Jesus and Dressed Up! Wigged Out! (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre), Sideways Stories from Wayside School, All of a Kind Family and The Fabulous Invalid (Emerson Stage), Samson Agonistes (92nd St. Y), Our Town (Boston Theatre Works), Far East (Vineyard Playhouse), Only You (Efron Entertainment). Dance soundscapes include works for Concord Academy Dance, Snappy Dance Theater Company, and Lorraine Chapman.  Awards: 2007 Connecticut Critics Circle Award (No Exit, Hartford Stage), 2001 Elliot Norton Award (Mother Courage and Her Children, A.R.T.), seven Independent Reviewers of New England Award nominations.

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performed by  

Thomas Derrah