1979: We Can't Pay, We Won't Pay (Dario Fo)

Writen by Dario Fo
Text based on the British translation by Lino Pertile, adapted by Bill Colvill & Robert Walker,
and American translations by People's Translation Service & the SFMT, adapted by the SFMT
Directed by the SFMT

WE CAN'T PAY featured

View original playbill

Poster Design: Dina Redman

We Can't Pay, We Won't Pay is set in an economically depressed working class neighborhood in Italy where food prices are skyrocketing. People are resorting to eating "rabbit heads", "Millet for Birds", and succulent "Supermeat Dog Food" instead of their usual gastronomical fare. The very funny physical farce gets rolling when Antonia tries to hide the fact that she smuggled food out of a supermarket during a food riot from her husband Giovanni, who would rather "starve than eat stolen food." In the ensuing complications, which include the appearance of a buffoonish police detective hot on the trail of "food thieves," Antonia's friend Margherita is forced to feign pregnancy (hiding the stolen food up her dress) and inadvertently winds up being taken to the hospital to "deliver" a bag of leaking olives!

Beneath the surface of this energetic social farce, Fo presents serious themes. While stealing is objectionable in a society, is it not more criminal to see prices raised beyond people's ability to pay? In a world which believes that eating is a right and not a privilege, aren't horrible crimes being perpetrated by a society making eating problematical? Beyond the food situation, the play's application to America in light of recent gas, housing and job shortages and runaway inflation is clear. Fo would have us understand that the crisis in the quality of life itself is not adequately being addressed by our present ruling institutions.

Although the Troupe is noted for producing its own collectively developed, socially relevant material, the aesthetic and political similarities between the Troupe and Fo makes this exciting international pairing a natural. The commedia tradition adapts easily to the Mime Troupe's own exaggerated production style.
Production Photo

Honors, Reviews and Articles:

Winner - Special Critics Circle Awards, 1979 - San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critic's Circle

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