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Elizabeth: Almost by Chance a Woman

Elizabeth: Almost by Chance a Woman
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Dario Fo
Translated by: Ron Jenkins
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 120
Pub. Date: 1989
ISBN-10: 0573691363
ISBN-13: 9780573691362
Cast Size: 2 women, 6 men

About the Play:

Elizabeth: Almost by Chance a Woman is a full-length comedy by Dario Fo, in a translation by his close collaborator Ron Jenkins. Lascivious, neurotic and narcissistic, the once stoic ruler Elizabeth I of England is now stark raving mad. Her mind conjures up vivid memories and grandly paranoid conspiracies, first and foremost that William Shakespeare has plagiarized the events of her life in each of his famous plays. A provocative, fast-paced political satire written by Italian playwright Dario Fo, one of the leading figures in modern farce and political drama.

Elizabeth, Almost by Chance a Woman is a hilarious satire against conservative political establishments that takes place in the palace of Queen Elizabeth I of England, the day before the aborted rebellion of her former champion and lover, Robert of Essex. Elizabeth is an aging, forgetful monarch trying desperately to cover up the widening cracks in her royal persona (as well as her face) with the aid of her lady in waiting and personal cosmetic advisor, the wonderfully weird Mama Zaza (in the drag queen role originally played by dramatist Dario Fo himself) who administers secret beauty treatments to ease the Queen's insecurities. Elizabeth is haunted by the headless specter of Mary, Queen of Scots, whose long imprisonment and ultimate execution still weigh heavily the Queen's mind. She is also suspicious of artists such as Shakespeare, who has written a play about some Danish prince which Elizabeth is convinced is really about her indecisive policies. The play is performed for her in a hilarious parody of Hamlet that ridicules selected soliloquies. Drawing on all the energy, spirit and spontaneity of original 16th century Commedia dell'Arte, Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo offers up a modern stage masterpiece which transcends language and culture. Elizabeth, Almost by Chance a Woman is in equal parts a bawdy burlesque, a riotous nose-thumbing of authority, and a surprisingly touching insight into the challenges of womanhood.

Elizabeth: Almost by Chance a Woman premiered in 1987 at Yale Repertory Theatre, the internationally celebrated professional theater in residence at Yale School of Drama in New Haven, Connecticut. This translation, prepared by Ron Jenkins (with assistance by Arturo Corso) in consultation with Dario Fo and Franca Rhame (his wife and creative partner), has been performed in regional and college theatre productions.

Cast: 2 female, 6 male

What people say:

"Dario Fo nails pretension and political chicanery with ridicule, laughter, sarcasm, irony and the grotesque... This being Fo, the play is rich with raunch and scatology, may offend the unwary. But for Fo converts, it's a must, just as it's an ideal introduction to one of the world's funniest theatre satirists." — Variety

"Dario Fo's distinctively styled play about England's virgin queen rears its not-so-subtle satirical head here in Los Angeles, with delightfully shamelessly comic results. It's a streetwise in-your-face political commedia, which works best when rules are broken." — Backstage

About the Playwright:

Dario Fo (1926-2016) was a major figure in Twentieth Century Italian drama as an actor, director and author of over 60 plays. His dramatic work employs comedic methods of the ancient Italian Commedia dell'Arte, a theatrical style popular with the working classes. His work is characterized by criticism of organized crime, political corruption, political assassination, the doctrine of the Catholic Church and the conflict in the Middle East. The Nobel Prize in Literature 1997 was awarded to Dario Fo "who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden". It is also the first time that the Nobel for the literary arts has been awarded to an actor.

Franca Rame (1929-2013) was an Italian theatre actress, playwright and political activist. She was married to Nobel laureate playwright Dario Fo who dedicated his Nobel Prize to her.

Ron Jenkins is a professor of theatre at Wesleyan University and teaches regularly as a visiting professor of religion and the arts at the Yale Divinity School, Institute of Sacred Music. Serving as the chief American translator for the written and on-stage performances of Dario Fo and Franca Rhame, he worked with the couple since the 1980's and has now become one of the pre-eminent scholars on their work.

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