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How attitude reached America with Columbus

Italian actor Mario Pirovano in the title role in Dario Fo’s Johan Padan.

Italian actor Mario Pirovano in the title role in Dario Fo’s Johan Padan.

Christopher Columbus may have been out to explore the New World but his crew members had their own agendas.

In Dario Fo’s mind, one of them, Johan Padan, was simply trying to get as far away from the Inquisition as possible.

A first-person monologue that bends and mutates language and historical fact, Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas is being presented today in Valletta.

Inspired by historical figures including Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and Guerriero, the play was written by Fo in 1992 as an alternative to the official commemorations of Columbus’s voyage of 1492.

Told by a last-minute conscript assigned to clean the shipboard pig stalls (who goes on to be adopted by a tribe of Indians and help them fight conquistadors), Johan Padan posits a riotous alternate history in which the dynamics between native and white, male and female, history and comedy are never what they seem.

It also retells early encounters between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, Florida and Mexico.

Johan Padan will be performed by Mario Pirovano, an Italian theatrical actor, storyteller, translator and interpreter of Fo’s monologues.

Johan Padan is being presented as part of the Dario Fo: A Malta Series of Events at The Splendid in Strait Street, Valletta, tomorrow at 8pm. Entrance is free. For more information, visit the Facebook page Dario Fo a Malta.

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