Mistero Buffo | Italy

The Comic Mysteries

Mistero buffo is definitely the best known of Dario Fo’s plays in Italy and abroad. It’s also the
most controversial. Words come before gestures. The spoken word is key to this play which
marked an absolute renewal in Italian theatre. In this case Fo re-invented language by
drawing on the 13th to 15th century dialects from the Padova area. The resulting
‘grammelot’ is exhilarating. ‘Mistero’ is a term already used by the Greeks in archaic times,
to define exoteric cults that gave rise to the staging of sacred events: the Dionysian
mysteries. The term was used again by Christians to allude to their own rituals as early as
the 2nd through to the 4th centuries B.C. Mystery as a spectacle, a sacred representation.
‘Mistero buffo’ means the staging of sacred themes, by deploying irony, the grotesque and
satire. It’s the people who invented ‘mistero buffo’ because for them theatre, and
particularly comic-grotesque theatre, has always been their main means of expression, of
communicating, and also their way of provoking and airing controversial ideas. Theatre
actually meant a speaking and dramatized newspaper of the people. In the thirty-five years
since it was first performed in 1969, Mistero buffo has had more than five thousand
performances in Italy and abroad. This very entertaining play has been incredibly successful.
Just like Molière, Fo employs laughter as a weapon against bigots. Irony, sarcasm and
slapstick characterize Mistero Buffo, a perfect comic device that unmasks the hypocrites of
this earth and tells the tale of the unspoken, millennial story of the lower classes. What’s
more, over the years, this political satire of manners hasn’t lost its punch. The birth of the
jester, the invention of grammelot, “the miracle of Baby Jesus”, the miracle of “The Wedding
at Cana”, “The Fable of the Blindman and the Cripple”, “Lazarus being brought back to life”,
“Boniface V111” are tantamount to “secular seasons”, episodes of the script, which
underscore its explosive nature, serving the performer, “a court jester or professional ranter,
whose sense of satire rails against the corruption, miserliness and hypocrisy of the
powerful.” (The New York Times)
Mistero Buffo, by author Dario Fo, provides the best explanation as to why the Swedish
Academy awarded him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997. It’s here that, together with
actor and writer Franca Rame, in the tradition of medieval jesters, he ridicules power and
gives back dignity to the oppressed.


 In collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of Tel Aviv


HaSimta Theatre

Play by:

Dario Fo

performed by

Eugenio de’ Giorgi

The play is in Italian with a live translation to Hebrew.


May 10, 21:00 | May 12, 21:00


approx. 90 minutes without an intermission