Fringe Club Play-Reading Group in Association with The English-Speaking Union (ESU) Hong Kong.

Date: 17th September 2019 (Tuesday)

Time: 7.30pm-9.30pm

Venue: “Colette’s” 2/F, The HK Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong

The Play this time : Accidental Death of an Anarchist - By Dario Fo  

Facilitator: Professor Mike Ingham

Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Morte Accidentale di un Anarchico, 1970) responded to events unfolding in Italy in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Generally, it looked at police corruption and suspicions regarding the government's collusion in such corruption. More specifically, it addresses the actual death of an anarchist who was being held in police custody following the bombing of a Milan bank that killed sixteen people and wounded ninety. It was subsequently proved that anarchists played no part in this bombing and were made scapegoats for it by the police. Ultimately suspicion for perpetrating the bombing fell on far right groups toward whom the police were more sympathetic. The police asserted that the anarchist's death was a suicide, and that the man threw himself from a third-floor window in despair at being found out for his crime. At the subsequent inquest, the presiding judge declared the death not a suicide but “an accident”. Most Italians believed that the death was the result of overly harsh interrogation techniques, if not a case of outright murder on the part of the interrogators.

 Nobel Prize-winning Italian dramatist Dario Fo wrote Accidental Death of an Anarchist as a satirical critique; his method was to mock those who abused their powers and attacked the civil liberties of ordinary citizens. His early career as a mime and comic entertainer stood him in good stead for dealing with more serious issues satirically when he began to write plays about social issues. The  play deals mainly with police corruption, underscored by the play's focus on impersonation, infiltration, and double-talk. A fast-talking major character, the Madman, infiltrates police headquarters. Posing as an investigating judge, he tricks the policemen into contradicting themselves and admitting that they are part of a cover-up involving the death in custody of the anarchist. This biting political satire is one of the most famous plays of the 20th century and been translated into more than forty languages. The version we will read is by British dramatist Tim Supple and renowned actor Alan Cumming, who played the Madman in the first English language production. The play remains as relevant today as when it was written.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance between police lying and brutality in Italy in Fo’s play and in other parts of the world today is purely coincidental

*Certificates will be awarded for Continuous Professional Development credit

**The English-Speaking Union (ESU) Hong Kong is a registered charity under Section 88 of the Hong Kong Inland Revenue Ordinance (charity reference 91/6295) .

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