MAIN STREET THEATER PRESENTS
BY DARIO FO
DIRECTED BY STEVE GARFINKEL
An Italian comedy written by the recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize for
Literature and Italys most popular contemporary playwright.
MARCH 4 APRIL 3, 1999
MAIN STREET THEATER
In the University Village
2540 Times Boulevard
Artistic Director: Rebecca Greene Udden
Managing Director: Lynn McHenry
..JOSEPH E. HUDSON
Scene 1: Rome, Italy Central Police Headquarters, 2nd floor office
Scene 2: The same building, 4th floor office
Later that day
There will be one fifteen-minute intermission
One the night of December 12, 1969, a bomb exploded and killed sixteen people at the
Agricultural Bank in Milan. At the same time, another bomb exploded at a bank in Rome, and
another bomb was discovered at the tomb of the unknown soldier. Milan police arrested an
anarchist, Guiseppe Pinelli, and accused him of the crime. At a certain point in his interrogation, the
anarchist flew out the window of the police station. The same day, another anarchist a dancer by
profession was arrested; he was suspected of being the one really responsible for the bomb in
Something similar occurred in New York in 1921, when the anarchist Salsedo flew out the window
of a police station, about the time that Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested for a crime never proven
against them. Their story has nothing to do with the one we are telling now. But from these stories
we can conclude that many anarchists are obsessed by the urge to jump out of the window,
because they believe they are able to fly. It is an illusion of theirs that when theyre two or three
yards from the ground, they merely have to open their arms and move their feet to fly up again.
Some observers have suspected that anarchists are able to fly, but they are also so underhanded
that they smash themselves to the ground, just to incriminate the police and other state institutions
Anyway, the investigation of the death of the anarchist in Milan was filed away in the archives. The
dancer anarchist was proven innocent after three years in jail. Public pressure has frequently been
exerted on authorities to re-open the investigation of the anarchist Pinellis death in Milan, but they
keep postponing it.
A NOTE ON THE TEXT
Like the police transcripts discussed in the play, the play itself has been altered a number of times
since its first production in Italy in 1970. (The published script used by MST) was first created by
Richard Nelson in 1983 for a production at Arena Stage. His adaptation was based on Suzanne
Cowans literal translation, published in Theater Magazine in 1979. For the Arena Stage
production and the subsequent Broadway production, both directed by Douglas Wager, Nelson
revised the dialogue for the American stage, and added some references to current politics. His
adaptation was approved by Dario Fo. Subsequently, Fo asked him for further changes in the test
which were made by Ron Jenkins and Joel Schechter, in collaboration with Fo and Franca Rame.
The changes include some new political references, and dialogue closer to that of the original Italian
test. These changes were made with the consent of Richard Nelson, who remains credited as the
American adapter of the play. Future productions may require further alteration of political
ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST was first staged on December 5, 1970, in
Varese (Lombardy), Italy. Richard Nelsons adaptation, directed by Douglas Wager, opened at
Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., on February 9, 1984.
-----the Prologue and Notes are excerpted from the published script of ACCIDENTAL DEATH
OF AN ANARCHIST.
HELLO!! ITS THE JEF JOHNSON SHOW !!!
THE OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION OF
ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST
By Theresa Hyde
MARCH 4, 1999
MAIN STREET THEATER Really Knows how to throw a PARTY!!!!!! Especially when its a
DARIO FO Party!!! And especially when its in the Village, the hippest coolest spot in town. The
invitation read, Main Street Theaters Board of Directors and Staff Cordially Invite you to The
Opening Night of Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Nobel Prize-Winning Author Dario Fo.
Thursday, March 4th, 7:30 pm at 2540 Times Boulevard
Please stay for the reception
afterwards with the actors.
(L-R) Jo Alessandro Marks and Shirley Cohen selling tickets for the Gem-Boree
And what a Party Reception it was!!! With champagne to quench your thirst, and the delicious little
turkey, ham and cheese sandwiches and light and airy croissants served up by La Madeleine, one
of our Staple Foods in the weight-conscious University Village.
When Main Street Theater Party-Goer Bijan Imani was asked what he thought of the show, he
comments, I find it very entertaining, funny. Jef Johnson was as good as Jim Carrey, or Robin
Williams." His wife, the beautiful Tara Imani says, "Oh, I totally enjoyed myself. Its an intimate
setting, you feel almost as if youre a part of the play. The acting was superb, especially Jef Johnson
whos a very strong actor. A lot of wordy lines that he had to memorize and he didnt miss a beat.
Hes every bit as good as Jim Carrey and all the Greats. His facial characteristics are extremely
expressive and Id like to see him get up on the big screen. I wish him lots of luck, hes great.
(L-R)Jeff Lane, Kelly Cousins, Joel Sandel and Patrick Reynolds
Richard Laub who runs the Theater called The Little Room Downstairs says, I thought it was a lot
of fun! I couldnt take my eyes off of JEF JOHNSON the whole time (laughs). There were other
things happening, but I couldnt take my eyes off him. Richard has been helping Main Street with
their Marketing this week, And thats how I happen to be here, he adds.
Main Street MainStay Joel Sandel wants everyone to know that, JEF JOHNSON is a genius!!!
DONT MISS THIS PLAY!!! Kelly Cousins agrees, JEF
.you just cant miss his
performance, hes wonderful. What a beautiful set too, by the way. Beautiful set. Jeff Lane
comments, Yes, its a very good performance. I thought JEF JOHNSON did very very well. Its
a good cast all around. Pretty hard hitting. Its very hard humor, very dark. So, if you have a weak
stomach, you have to be prepared. But its a strong play throughout. Lead Actor JEF JOHNSON,
Fantastic Job and a Good Supporting Cast, too. Patrick Reynolds says, Its non-stop fun, you
have a smile on your face throughout the whole thing.
....And Jef Johnson enters the picture
Well, JEF JOHNSON certainly stole the Show. And the Party afterwards. Everybody wanted to
talk to him, everyone craved for his attention, like they knew him personally or something. I kinda
found him intimidating, really, what with his bald head and all. The audience slowly parted as he
came out of the dressing room and strolled through the Party Crowd. He turned his head as he
listened and smiled incredulously as the audience started to chant his name.
Originally from Houston, JEF THE FOOL JOHNSON holds a BA from the University of
Pennsylvania. He has appeared at several MAIN STREET Productions, as well as EARLY
STAGES and the Childrens Theatre Festival, the JCC, Skyline Theatre and Express Theatre.
He runs outside the Theater into the cool, windy night. I finally backed him into the corner as he
closes his palms over his face to light his cigarette. He starts the interview by doing a Daddy
JEF: Actually, First of All, in the Program it says Suspect but the actual title of the Character is
FOOL. What do you wanna know?
(L-R) Richard Laub of The Little Room Downstairs and Leo Boucher, Former Managing Director of Main Street Theater
THYDE: Its amazing, the whole show is about you. Ive already gotten several comments about
how wonderful and how great you are.
JEF: Well (pause), theyre all true (smiles).
THYDE: How did you prepare for this Role?
JEF: Well, I studied a little bit about the author, Dario Fo. I have a background in slapstick
performance. I know a little bit about his comedy some of the styles that Fo specializes in. So the
combination of the research that I did and the Directors (Steve Garfinkel) research and choices
and Artistic Directors (Rebecca Greene Udden) comments put together what you saw. Its a part
thats been done, I mean the play has been performed for twenty-some odd years to big sold-out
houses in Italy and Mexico and South America and other countries. Its been interpreted different
THYDE: Love that Italian accent!
JEF: Its supposed to be a little hoaky because The Fool thinks hes a better actor than he really is.
You gotta talk a little Italian! Its fun, its fun, its a little different, were still practicing getting it to
where we think it will eventually
THYDE: Is this the most challenging role youve ever played?
JEF: Its tough, the lines
..there are so many lines, and were saying them so quickly and
incorporating the Physical Acting. Its tough to breathe and keep on top of things and be
understood. But Ive done a few other plays that are as challenging. I prepared for about six
(L-R) Jef Johnson and Patrick Reynolds
THYDE: Thats all? And you memorized all those lines
JEF: Its a lot of lines (laughs). I did one other part that I probably had more lines and that was the
role of The Duke in Measure for Measure. But this ones a booger.
THYDE: Did you have to shave your head for this role?
JEF: I chose to do it. I talked to my movement coach, Gabriela Villegas whos in Houston and she
was asking me about it. Her ex-husband had performed it in Mexico some years ago. Its real
popular in Latin cultures. They have performed a version of it in Mexico where it ran for like a year,
to sold out audiences. It was originally in Italian, but you know it translates into English, they can
translate into anything. Mostly countries where they have the situation where the
..you know, oppression and so forth
.its very popular, because it speaks to the
And I mentioned to her that I thought of doing it bald, partly because in the beginning we thought of
a lot more character transformation than you saw. That almost everytime you talked, it would be
different. And we would use wigs and so, for instance, when I opened the investigation, I was
kinda immitating a Southern Senator to make a joke for the American audience, we thought Id put
a really bad toupee on, the bald head with the rubber band would look really silly. But we cut all
the wigs and so forth and the idea behind being bald was that the metaphor of him being stripped
down, that everythings put on in this world.
(L-R) Theresa Hyde and John Kaiser
The Fool, of course, is an Anarchist, so hes in there to turn the government on its head. So the
baldness is sort of a symbol. It represents being stripped down, and putting all the layers on top.
Western Culture might see him as a Fascist because they associate skinheads with Right Wing,
when in fact hes really an Anarchist.
THYDE: How much of the show was Ad Lib?
JEF: Everything to the script. The one four-page monologue in the beginning, Im still having some
difficulty getting it word-perfect so, there are times when I forget a word and I have to make
something up to get the sense of it out. But all of its in the script.
THYDE: You were excellent. Ive already gotten comments comparing you to Robin Williams and
JEF: Well, you know people are wacky like that (laughs). I get that a lot from critics that say, well
you know, Jerry Lewis, Lucille Ball. People dont quite know what to say and I think that sure, Im
influenced by all these people but at the same time, Im contemporary with these people you just
mentioned. Youd like to think that someday they might say, Wow, I like what he does and hes
Jef Johnson rather than trying to compare you to other people. Its whats familiar in their mind, I
think, what I remind them of. Im not trying to imitate Robin Williams, hes a genius and Jim
Carreys a goon. Hes talented, hes a rubber band, you know.
THYDE: The last time I saw you was on another Dario Fo play called The Virtuous Burglar. I
found you very good looking then, back when you had all your hair.
JEF: Oh, well, that goes without saying (laughs). All the hippies hang out in my house (more
laughs). I think that theres a shocking quality as the lights coming up, as a lot of the audience
realizes Im gonna be bald.
John Kaiser: MUGSHOT 2000
THYDE: You do plan to grow your hair back, right?
JEF: I dont know
..it makes it easy, I dont have to bathe everyday (laughs). Yeah, I plan
to, for other roles.
THYDE: I go back inside the Theater and approach John Kaiser who plays The Captain.
His recent Main Street Productions are Watch on the Rhine, Hay Fever, The Sisters Rosensweig,
An Enemy of the People, etc. He is taken aback as I stick the tape recorder in his face.
JKAISER: Looks like a scene in the play. Yes?
THYDE: Tell us about the part that youre playing
JKAISER: I really dont know anything about it. Its not like theyre actually people or actual
characters. Its a Farce about Italian politics that none of us really know anything about or
understand. But its more an Action piece for us, than a Character piece. Its not like we have
personalities or lives or inner thoughts. Its just keeping pace with the piece. Its beyond comedic,
its a complete farce. And yet there is kind of a social subtext to it, its a critique of society. Of
course, anything about exposing police corruption is always timely, no matter what country youre
talking about. I mean, in the news this afternoon, Im sure there were several stories about it right
here in town.
John Kaiser as the Police Captain
THYDE: Monica Lewinsky
JKAISER: Well, shes always good for a laugh. But you know, since I watched her last night, I
have a better opinion of her.
THYDE: Dont we all?
JKAISER: I mean, I feel like she had no idea of the scope of what she was involved in, and she still
doesnt have any idea. But we wanted to throw in more local politics. But essentially, its a frame
for political ideas formed in a character story, or a human story. And of course, the Reporter
(played by Ginny Lang) is about the Media who approached me with a tape recorder, very much in
the same way youre doing right now. So you know, you reached right in into the Cast Party.
(L-R) Main Street Artistic Director Rebecca Greene-Udden, Leo Boucher, (Former Managing Director oF Main Street
Theater, now works for Opera), and Robert Leeds
Robert Leeds, who plays the high-pitched Police Chief was having a relaxing drink after the Show.
He has appeared at MST in Leave It To Jane, An American Daughter, The Witlings, Lady Be
Good, Macbeth, etc. Elsewhere he has appeared with the Houston Shakespeare Festival, Stages,
Houston Grand Opera and The Little Room Downstairs. His television commercials include a
feature role for Randalls and an international role for Kelloggs.
THYDE: Hello, how are you doing?
RLEEDS: Fine, good to see you again.
THYDE: Tell us about the part youre playing. I know its hard to describe
RLEEDS: Its real hard to describe. I play of the Chief of the Police Division in Rome. And the
Anarchist comes in and pretty much takes over and demoralizes us. He keeps running circles
around us, and we just try to keep up. And she (The Reporter) is uncovering the graft in the Police
(L-R) John Kaiser and Robert Leeds
THYDE: How did you prepare for this role?
RLEEDS: I learned a lot of lines, an awful lot of lines (laughs). And I just worked my voice up as
high as I could get it.
Ginny Lang, who plays The Reporter, has appeared in numerous productions at MST, including
Everything in the Garden, Its Only A Play, Serious Money. She is the former Artistic Director of
Checkmate Theatricals and is currently president of Comprehensive Community Affairs, her
newly-formed consulting business.
THYDE: Tell us about the part that youre playing
GLANG: Im the reporter who comes in and quizzes the police about the Anarchists death and
tries to find the out truth on how the Anarchist died. And of course, Im totally fooled. I am the only
one onstage who doesnt know that The Fool (that is the part of the Fool), that he is playing
various roles. Im the only one who doesnt know that he isnt the Captain of the Police
Department. So, Im completely taken in.
THYDE: Youre also the only female in the whole play.
GLANG: I am. Im the only female.
Character Actors Extraordinaire: John Kaiser as the Police Captain
and Robert Leeds as the Police Officer
THYDE: How did you prepare for this role?
GLANG: This role was difficult because it is translated out of the Italian. Which means that the
language is often awkward. So it was difficult to memorize, but I have worked in Dario Fo pieces
before so I knew something about the politics and I knew something about the history behind it.
And then, with Steve Garfinkels Excellent Direction, he was very good!!! And told us exactly what
he wanted. But if is JEF JOHNSONs piece.
THYDE: He is the whole show.
GLANG: Ohhh, hes wonderful and it is so difficult not to stop and watch him, you know. He is so
brilliant. Every moment. He is absolutely brilliant. A constant cascade of characters, of voices, and
THYDE: Tell us about your background as an Actor
GLANG: Ive been working at Main Street Theater since, oh probably, 1983 was the first time I
worked here. Im an actor about town. The last role that I did was in Six Degrees of Separation
(she portrayed Louisa Kittredge) here, about a year and a half ago and before that I played the
witch in Into the Woods.
THYDE: Why did you choose Acting?
GLANG: Acting is not something that you choose. Acting chooses you. Like most artists, its
something that you cant NOT do. If its in your blood, and if its something you love to do, you
have to do it. Even if you only get the opportunity to do it every now and then. I have my own
business, and I only get to do it (I used to do it a lot, professionally) every now and then and its a
love that I have no desire to get away from. So I do it whenever I have the opportunity.
Todd Greenfield is the one who plays two roles, The Officer and The Sergeant. He has appeared
on MSTs Main Stage in An American Daughter, The Witlings, Good Housekeeping, and
Hapgood. Mr. Greenfield holds a BA and an MA from the University of Houston at Clear Lake.
THYDE: Tell us about the part youre playing
TODD: The Sergeant is the first part I play, its kind of a little hoity-toity cop. And the second one
is kind of a gum-chewing, not-quite-so-smart simpleton of an Officer. But hes basically happy in
what he does, so hes always in a good mood, just has the gum and chews.
THYDE: How did you prepare for this role?
TODD: Actually it was funny because we didnt really have much of a character for the second
Sergeant for the longest time. I was just kind of standing there not doing much of anything. Once I
got the gum in my mouth, then suddenly, the whole character just went Bing! I know this character
was like, Okay youre alive. The gum was basically It.
THYDE: Tell us about your Acting background
TODD: Well, this is my fifth show here. I started here about two years ago with Hapgood and Ive
also done Good Housekeeping. I was a Theatre Major and I graduated from UH Clearlake about
fifteen years ago. So I actually have been doing Theatre in Houston for about 5 years now, I took
an 8 year break after graduating. And kinda just back into it.
SPARKLE!!! SPARKLE!!! SPARKLE !!!
SUPPORT MAIN STREET THEATRES GEMBOREE
Stop by the table in the lobby and purchase a ticket from an MST volunteer for the drawing to be
held June 4, 1999, during MSTs 24th Birthday Party.
$1,000 I.W. MARKS GIFT CERTIFICATE
HIS & HERS SEIKO WATCHES FROM LEVIT JEWELRY VALUED AT $900
LOIS LADEN DESIGNER NECKLACE VALUED AT $800
PLUS OTHER PRIZES
DRAWING DATE: June 4, 1999 at MSTs 25th season kick-off party. Winners need not be
present to win.
PRIZE: $5.00 per ticket or 3 tickets for $10.00