Francis the Holy Jester

Hilfield Update Friary  N° 13 December 2013 ‘FRANCIS THE HOLY JESTER’   The opening celebration on the Friday 13th September before our Saturday Stigmata Festival was Mario Pirovano’s performance of Dario Fo’s play. Less a performance than a look through the keyhole at a glimpse of the real Francis – the Francis who could captivate vast crowds as he preached the Gospel, and the Francis who told stories and cared about the impoverished and sick. But he also gave ‘tirades’; yelling, miming, dancing, mimicking, entertaining. Unsurprisingly, all but one of these were tidied away as the myth of holy, humble little Francis was created by the historians! Our packed house was vastly entertained and perhaps provoked by Mario, a great friend of the Nobel prize winning Dario Fo. It was good to be in the company of the real Francis for the evening.   John Reynolds, Friary Bursar

Allegany (USA), 2012 Saint Bonaventure University, 2012 ROUSING PERFORMANCE AT BONA. ITALIAN STAGE STAR DELIGHTS WITH ‘FRANCIS THE HOLY JESTER’ “…The standing ovation Pirovano received wasn’t merely to pay a tribute to his electric, engaging performance, but to thank him for revealing layers of the revered saint so many never knew.” read more by Tom Missel

Detroit (USA), 2012‘FRANCIS THE HOLY JESTER’, A MASTERPIECE OF WIT, SPIRITUAL INSIGHT, AND INSPIRATION “… In Pirovano’s able hands, the audience soaked up lessons about papal history, Biblical stories, and contentious Italian politics, all while sharing heartfelt, collective laughter and the occasional tear. … Pirovano is an excellent actor who brings forth the greatness and the humbleness of Francis all in the same show.”  Read more

Boston (USA), 2012 MARIO PIROVANO BRINGS FRANCIS, DARIO FO TO BOSTON AREA “…Pirovano grimaces, smiles, frowns and laughs-all in just a few seconds. They are all faces and masks he brings on stage while interpreting episodes from the life of St. Francis of Assisi.” read more

New York (USA), 2012 MARIO PIROVANO, UN GIULLARE INTERPRETA SAN FRANCESCO, ALLA ZERRILLI-MARIMO’ “Chi non ha visto Mario Pirovano recitare si perde qualcosa,  il gesto antico del cantastorie, capace di affabulare da solo la platea… Se pensiamo che una trentina di isolati al nord ci sono gli show di Broadway, con le produzioni multimilionarie (tra le migliori al mondo, bisogna dirlo), ti vien voglia di applaudire a questo spettacolo no-Broadway, che fa emergere dal nulla il gesto da cui tutto si originò ( Broadway compreso): il racconto orale.” read more

Harnosand (Sweden), 2012 A GOOD-GIFTED JESTER “…It is a theater that we’re not used to in Sweden, and Pirovano mastered it to the perfection… Warm and dazed I step out into the chilly night of Nordlands, and feel myself as a true friend with both Mario and Francis.” read original article

Littlehampton (UK), 2010 FRANCISCAN MISSIONARY SISTERS “A very special thank you must go to Mario, without his talent and generous spirit the event would not have taken place.”

London, CHURCHES TIMES, 7 August 2009 ‘ADMIRATION FOR A TRUE CHRISTIAN’ “It is true to say that, as performed by Mario Pirovano, with his Italian accent and way of chatting and joking to the audience, the personality and character of Francis, his sincerity, naivety, warmth, and charm are beliavable” read more by Katy Hounsell-Robert

Canterbury, June 16, 2009 ITINERARIUM: THE WORLD IS MY FRIARY “I really had a treat! The actor, Mario Pirovano was electric, and supplemented a manic text with pointed asides (i.e. “It is all allegory: the wolf of Gubbio was a rapacious politician!”). Fo aimed to liberate Francis from the birdbath and unleash some of the Good News in contemporary hearts.” read more by Brother Clark

London, May 2009 “Mario Pirovano’s performance of the Holy Jester was a highlight of our year and a wonderfully uplifting experience that we will never forget. The event brought together a diverse audience of students and staff from across Queen Mary and beyond, all the members of which were visibly invigorated by Mario’s engaging approach. We await his next visit with eager anticipation.” Nigel Relph, Director of Corporate Affairs, Queen Mary, University of London

“On a warm summer evening in London Mario Pirovano transported his audience to medieval Italy, and created an unforgettable encounter with Francis of Assisi. Pirovano’s evocation of history was impeccable, yet the message he conveyed was as fresh as can be: a powerful critique of greed and hypocrisy, and a timely warning against squandering the truly important gifts of life: nature, love and friendship.” Professor Miri Rubin, Department of History, Queen Mary, University of London

Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 5-31 August 2009

‘This production is the most entertaining and funny history lesson you could hope to see, given a captiving performance by the charismatic Pirovano.” David Chadderton ***** British Theatre Guide

“Pirovano’s performance, and his ability, are astounding… I recommend it whole-heartedly and completely.”  Chris Hislop***** Fringe Review

“A charismatic storyteller, brilliant actor, and passionate translator… it was an excellent performance.’” Minka Paraskevova ***** FringeGuru

“…this was a great piece of theatre, it had mediaeval humour, pathos and real unique artistic craftsmanship.”  John Ritchie ***** Edinburghguide.com

“… this wonderful show performed with exquisite timing and exuberance… worth seeing and even giving it a second visit.”  Neil Mc Ewans **** Evening news

“Deeply entertaining theatrical experience. One not to be missed.” Chris Wright **** Three Weeks

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