Dario Fo was effusive and smiling at the press conference he gave earlier this week to present tonight’s performance at the Herod Atticus Theater, in which he will appear in a one-man show titled «The Mask and the Theater.» The acclaimed Italian playwright, director and actor is in the capital at the invitation of the Athens Festival, in collaboration with the Cultural Center of the Municipality of Athens, to present a production designed and organized exclusively for celebrations of the festival’s 50th anniversary. Dressed entirely in white and obviously in the mood to share his thoughts, Fo spoke about politics, the Nobel Prize for Literature he received in 1997, the theater and the role of masks in the history of theater – the inspiration for his show. He was accompanied by Franca Rame, his companion in life and in the theater, who also had a few things to say about her gifted partner. «Twenty years ago, I was in Zakynthos for a meeting of academic groups, researchers and folklore groups from all around the Mediterranean. I was shocked when I encountered the local folk tradition; that’s when I realized what theater is,» said Fo about his first visit to the country. «Ancient Greek theater originates in the Dionysian Mysteries and by the rites held to mark the changing of the seasons.» His solo show tonight represents his effort to highlight the «significance of the mask and the way it has influenced the evolution of culture,» he explained. «The mask,» he added, «a tool of ancient drama and the commedia dell’arte, gives the actor the opportunity to make full use of the tonality of his voice. At the same time, it is also a huge disadvantage because it wipes out the face. In order to give it life, we have to use the body,» says the celebrated mime and satirist. «My main role in the performance is that of the prompter,» added Rame. «It is a very special role because when they forget their lines, all great actors blame the promoter.» Rame was also forthcoming about her private life with Fo: «Living with this wonderful man for 51 years has taught me to put up with everything… If you look closely, you will see a halo above my head,» she said, laughing. Even after Fo received the Nobel in 1997, he says, it didn’t change him at all. «If people didn’t remind me of it, I probably would have forgotten I ever got it,» he said. «In the first few months after Dario was awarded and we’d go for holiday to Sicily,» added Rame, «people would stop us on the street to kiss us and say, ‘We got the Nobel with you.’ Those were very touching moments,» she reminisced. Herod Atticus Theater, Dionysiou Areopagitou, Acropolis, tel 210.323.2771. Tickets can be purchased at the theater’s box office.