Franca Rame has died in Milan at 84.
She was an Italian theatre actress with a talent for comedy, playwright and an outspoken political activist. She was married to Nobel laureate playwright Dario Fo who dedicated his Nobel Prize to her.
Rame came from a theatrical family in the north of Italy. After making her theatrical debut in 1951, she met Dario Fo and they married in 1954. Their long collaboration started soon after when they founded the Dario Fo–Franca Rame Theatre Company in Milan in 1958. Fo was the director and writer, and Rame the leading actress and administrator.
Later in the 1970s she started writing monologues which were hysterically funny but voiced strong feminist political messages, tackling subjects, especially related to sex, for the first time on stage. They shocked many, especially coming from the mouth of such a glamorous figure as Franca Rame.
In March of 1973, a group of fascists who were reportedly commissioned by high-ranking officials in Milan’s police force, abducted Rame, held her at gunpoint and dumped her in a van. She was raped, beaten, burnt with cigarettes, and they slashed her with razor blades and left her in a park. Demonstrating extraordinary will-power, she returned to the stage after two months with new anti-fascist monologues.
In the 2006 elections she was elected Senator for the Piedmont region.
There was a long applause after her passing was announced in Parliament this morning, followed by a minute’s silence.
Franca Rame – (18 July 1928 – 29 May 2013)
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.