The story and the trick of Columbus's Egg - Greats technologies that have shocked the world

Jacopo Fo tells the story of Columbus's Egg (or Egg of Columbus) for the series "Greats technologies that have shocked the world" of Alcatraz Channel.
An egg of Columbus or Columbus' egg (Italian: uovo di Colombo) refers to a brilliant idea or discovery that seems simple or easy after the fact.
In this video Jacopo Fo reveals us the trick used by Columbus to remain upright egg which is discussed in the story gave birth to this adage.

Mario Pirovano: Johan Padan and the Discovery of America REVIEWS

Mario PirovanoTHE TIMES

June 1, 2002

“It’s clear that Mario Pirovano loves to tell stories. (…) Dressed simply in dark trousers and sweatshirt, with only two tapestry-like paintings by Fo hanging behind him, Pirovano moves energetically across the stage, imitating everything from castanets and fireworks to turkeys, iguanas and surviving a shipwreck by floating to shore clinging to a pig.”
Ian Johns


June 5, 2002

“This monologue from the great italian political farceur Dario Fo offers an exuberant counter-myth to the Western history of Columbus.
Rather than bludgeoning the audience with the horrific realities of Renaissance exploration, Fo instructs with historical irony – seeing Europe from the other side – and the generosity of burlesque. Pirovano is an engaging performer, who chats to the audience before and after the show and hurls himself about the stage to enact, without set or costume, everything from the firing of homemade fireworks to the correct method of taming a wild horse.”


June 5, 2002

“Pirovano is good at button-holing his audience, especially when speaking in his own person, and he brings agreeable roguishness to his mimed. (…) Engrossing stuff, vividly told…”

Mario Pirovano web site

Mario Pirovano english version

Mario Pirovano: Francis the Holy Jester REVIEWS

Mario PirovanoLondon,  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) 

Mario Pirovano web site

Mario Pirovano english version

The Negative Left will bring us to our Doom

I thoroughly enjoyed Roberto Saviano’s speech at the rally for the resignation of the current administration in Milan, during which he stressed that we must start imagining a new world, rather than merely opposing Berlusconi…

I will attempt to explain by way of an example: The situation in Italy is tragic, not only because of B. and because of widespread corruption, but also because of the stifling bureaucratic system which, according to statistics, costs 15 billion euro annually – money thrown down the drain on administrative paperwork. However, this is a one-sided evaluation, which ignores the fact that it takes years to get permission to do anything in Italy, and every year we waste billions of euro on a bureaucracy that suppresses business.

For example, let’s say you want to manufacture a hundred bottles of liquor? That’s a crime. Or perhaps you would like to produce some jam? That’s also a crime. Nobody knows why exactly we are so weighed down by these insane regulations. Don’t be fooled, all these rules do not guarantee the quality of the jam. I could easily produce a jam that is concocted of sugar, frozen fruit, colourings, fungicide, pesticides, flavourings and preservatives, and yet it is legal to do so as long as I adhere to the regulations. It is clear that in such scenarios anyone who is in anyway corrupt would be in their element. In other countries, however, the logic is the opposite: you are not asked for any official paperwork, but should you screw up they will make you pay dearly. In Italy they put countless hurdles in your way from the start, and then if you screw up it could take up to ten years before you are prosecuted and you will most likely end up with two convictions and a fine. This state of affairs is partly the fault of a certain left-wing authoritarian tradition.

We have a striking example right before of our very eyes: a solid agreement between the Right and Left is preventing the construction of almost all large solar photovoltaic (PV) farms. The government is putting a new law into effect that prohibits PV farms which exceed 1000kw, and in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany they are introducing even more restrictive regulations. In practice, we are relinquishing the possibility of building energy farms that would produce more electricity than any nuclear power plant B. could ever imagine, and thousands of potential jobs will be lost as a result.

I know that voicing this will awaken the wrath of many… but my opinion on the matter is a simple one: a) we become dependent on nuclear power or b) we face a disastrous energy crisis. How can we allow large wind and solar energy farms to be outlawed simply because they are not aesthetically pleasing to the eye? It is complete nonsense when people state that the ground will become sterile after 30 years as a result of the shadow cast by solar panels. On the contrary, although the panels are placed roughly 2 metres above the ground, they do not completely prevent the sun’s rays from shining on the earth’s surface (as they do not have a continuous surface), therefore herbaceous plants can be grown beneath the panels in order to regenerate the soil and agricultural land, exhausted from intensive chemical exploitation, can be allowed to lie fallow. It’s rumoured that solar energy farms have to be cemented to the ground, whereas steel posts are in fact all that is needed…

But thinking about the realities of the environmental impact of all this is boring. Better to ban them all. But if you ban them all you are left with nothing. I believe it is better to make proposals that can convince even those who are not environmental enthusiasts. Learn the art of mediation. Only when we can reconcile ecology and the economy can we even attempt to get millions of people on board. At times we have succeeded: for example, thanks to the grants received from the Energy Efficiency Scheme local authorities in certain regions were persuaded to distribute millions of water-flow restrictors to households’ free-of-charge, and only because of this have we succeeded in reducing our excessive water consumption. Some are of the opinion however, that grants such as these, which were established as a result of the Kyoto Agreement, are a load of rubbish because they make a commodity out of our ecology. That may be true, but they do exist regardless of whether we decide to avail of them or not. We decided that we would, and thanks to a successful campaign we can say that we, in Italy, have saved millions of litres of water.

But, despite such results, we are seen as traitors in the eyes of some ecological fundamentalists. The real question is this: are we in favour of taking small concrete steps? The question the progressive movement should be asking is whether the vision of a credible and concrete future generation is enough to drive Italians out of their indecisiveness and rise above politics. We need to work out an inventive means of creating a consensus of ideals and quantifiable interests. We have to recognise that the power of every small action we take today is a step towards a significant outcome for tomorrow.

Translated by Clare Hawkins and Ingrid Clancy, MA in Advanced Language Skills, NUI Galway.


We are a Great People!

Foreigners mock us because they are jealous (Italians do it better!)
I feel a rush of patriotism. It’s all Benigni’s fault. He’s taught me to appreciate the fact that Italians are going through a glorious period in the realm of satire. Luca and Paolo in Sanremo, Grillo, Hendel, Luciana Littizzetto, Paolo Cortellessi, the Guzzantis, Daniele Lutazzi, Paolo Rossi, Albanese, Crozza, Dandini, Vergassola, Benni, Vauro, Staino and even Travaglio, who acted out his crazy set-pieces... they are all producing their very best. No other country  can boast such an army of irreverent comedians.
 Where else would two comedians like Dario Fo and Franca Rame  be able to televise an entire comedy-stint without sound? Remember Atlantide TV? Thanks to  Dell’Utri’s threats, Sky aired one hour and forty-five minutes of silent film, leaving newspapers all over Europe speechless. Foreigners cannot even begin to understand such poetic levels of surrealist satire. It’s what makes us Italians truly different. We exaggerate everything, starting with Art. Benigni was right when he said that we have paved the museums of the world with kilometres of artwork pillaged from us.
Italy is a country where strange currents meet. We’re so exposed in the heart of the Mediterranean. We conquered the world but then we immediately sustained every possible invasion. Even the Normans, who circumnavigated Europe, came to our shores just to try to knock us off our pedestal. We have the sun, we know how to eat, we play music like the gods and no one can outdo us when it comes to making love. It’s all good here - we know how to live.
Now they are taking the piss out of Berlusconi. They should look at their own lousy ancestors! Even I’d give Berlusconi the finger, but you must be joking if you think I’m going to allow an Englishman lecture me on him. They have Blair, who finally admitted the truth: Britain went to war in Iraq not because there were weapons of mass destruction, but rather to keep their prestigious alliance with the United States…and didn’t they make a right mess of it?
As for the French, it would be more beneficial for them to look at their own problems rather than criticize the mere speck that is ours. Why don’t we start talking about France's role in the massacres throughout Africa over the past 30 years? Or we could perhaps mention the cannibal Bokassa who gobbled up left-wing students and later presented Giscard with a gift of diamonds?
Who can tell us what morals to heed? The New York Times? Don’t make me laugh! You who have supported a succession of presidents who have plagued the world, and their own soldiers with depleted uranium, torturing and slaughtering innocent civilians… and who have backed all the world’s fascist dictators.
We have Silvio who screws 24 minors in one session and gets Mubarak to cover for him at police headquarters. So what? We are a thousand times better than you, so much so that we vastly outlive all you French, English and Americans! We even live longer than the Spanish and Germans; at least that’s what the statistics say! Why is it that we live longer?! We are masters of perseverance! The Italian System works the best! The fact that the Prime Minister is up to something new every day entertains us! Reading the newspaper or going onto the internet to see his latest lover in the nude is our way of relaxing…
And yet, Berlusconi’s resoluteness cannot be denied! That’s the Italian spirit: We stop at nothing! We have overwhelming determination. Whatever we do we do to the extreme! The Pyramids of Egypt are nothing compared to what we have achieved. We have built thousands of kilometres of roads and aqueducts all over Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. We are the inventors of the bikini, the helicopter, the submarine, the armored-tank, the aeroplane, Viridian green, Titian red and denim jeans. We discovered electricity, the Pythagoras Theorem, America, the Fibonacci sequence, the Atomic Bomb, the “maggiorata”, the Vespa, pizza, the Russian salad and espresso coffee… We brought silk and rice back from China and translated the scientific texts of the Arabs.
We taught the French how to cook and how to do theatre, and we taught the Germans how to drink beer and eat potatoes. We invented the Mafia and Freemasonry in order to defend ourselves from invaders and from the powerful. We built New York and Buenos Aires. We have our own scheming networks, secret alliances, counterfeiting, illegal trading, smugglers and spine-chilling monetary transactions. We also have the Pope… we were the birthplace of Christianity, of Democracy, of scientific-thought and classical music; and wherever you are in the world you won’t be hard put to find an Italian restaurant.
Therefore, dear foreigners, please tone down on lecturing us for not having driven Berlusconi out yet. We are holding onto Berlusconi because we are in a particular moment in our history. It is only a phase. We have had our ups and downs… and now we are on a low. We already have Berlusconi to make fools of us. But we have to admit that he is unlike any other... He is a genius who descends directly from Julius Caesar, Boniface VIII, Machiavelli, and the Medici and Borgia families. If he were to stand for the next elections in the United States he would be capable of winning! Forget Obama.

Translated by Clare Hawkins and Edward Valentine, MA in Advanced Language Skills, NUI Galway.