FEATURES » Franca Rame died aged 84

Franca Rame died aged 84

The Italian icon of cultural and political commitment Franca Rame has died at the age of 84.

Rame, leading actress, playwright and militant leftwing politician was the wife and professional partner of the Nobel prize winner Dario Fo.

Thousands of people paid tribute to the actress in largo Greppi, in front of the Strehler theatre in Milan. It was a triumph of red, the colour which Rame asked women to wear, and many did, together with men holding roses or wearing red scarves. A final communist political statement to remember her fight for freedom and female emancipation.

Franca Rame was born in Parabiagio, Milan from a catholic mother and a socialist militant father working as an actor.
She was a member of the Italian Communist Party and then of the hard left party originated from the former Italian Communist Party. In 2006 she was elected as Senator of the Republic, as part of the “Italy of Values” party, but she resigned due to political disagreements.  

In 1970 Franca Rame and Dario Fo co-founded  their own militant theatre group, La Comune, in the Palazzina Liberty Milan that became a base for Milan's leftist community.

Franca Rame is mostly remembered for her agitprop pieces such as Fedayin (1971), the takings from which went to the Palestinian Liberation Front; her performance in Fo's “Non Si Paga, Non Si Paga!” (Can't Pay? Won't Pay!) as a typical proletarian housewife who leads other women to go looting at the supermarkets. From there on she wrote her own pieces to which Fo collaborated. Her first one woman show was  “Tutta Casa, Letto e Chiesa” (It's All Bed, Board and Church) who become a masterpiece of the feminist theatre.
The Dario Fo–Franca Rame Theatre Company brought life to pieces known all over the world. “Accidental Death of an Anarchist”, is their most famous work. It tells the story of the death of the anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli who mysteriously fell from the fourth floor window of a Milan police station in 1969.

Franca Rame paid for her courage with her own body. After the success of “Accidental Death of an Anarchist”, she was kidnapped, raped and tortured, presumably for political reasons. No one was found guilty for the atrocities. Nevertheless, Franca Rame’s courage didn’t stop there and she shared her appalling experience in a monologue, broadcasted on public television during a family show. It was a very controversial choice which caused a great deal of debate throughout Italy.

Franca Rame will always be remembered for her contribution to the Italian cultural and political scene. 

Giulia Lombardo

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