See article in its original context here by Kathy Evans for The Age.
Dario Fo’s rollicking satire on New World encounters conveys a timely message about people power
Take Christopher Columbus, sailing the ocean blue and making friends with the natives amid a lush tropical setting. Six centuries later he’s embalmed as a hero of the Western World with his own national holiday, but Italian dramatist Dario Fo’s subversive play, Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas, casts him in an altogether much greyer light.
Using vivid wordscapes, the Nobel prize-winning satirist and playwright paints the New World as a place of ostracism, brutality and oppression where conquering Spaniards enslave, maim and kill the local “savages” with relish. They, in turn, think white man, with his God-fearing ways and suppressed desires, is much more interesting as a mouth-watering breakfast.
“It’s a big story, so hard to put into a nutshell,” says Melbourne actor Steve Gome, who is performing the one-man play with a cast of thousands for independent theatre company, Hoy Polloy at fortyfivedownstairs.
Gome first fell in love with Fo’s controversial play over a decade ago when he saw it performed at the Melbourne International Festival. “The colour, sounds and tastes are so evocative and I just became fascinated by it,” he recalls. An industrial officer at United Voice by day and actor by night, he spent many an evening poring over translations of the script, committing sections at a time to memory.