Rents are rising, food prices are ridiculously high, and now your job is in jeopardy.
Antonia joins the women in her neighborhood in a mass protest at the grocery store.
The women refuse to pay, but when Antonia gets home with the groceries, she must
deal with her outraged conformist husband, Giovanni, who is horrified at what
she has done. Comic farce ensues in this hilarious but important statement about
the working poor, desperation, crooked cops, pregnancy and hunger.
One of the most celebrated of his political comedies, We
Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! demonstrates the comedic genius of Italian
playwright Dario Fo. In this masterpiece it is easy to see why Fo received the
Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997 for "emulating the jesters of the Middle
Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden."
Indeed, Fo has extensively researched the medieval traditions
of comedy when clowns were the voices of oppressed people. Fo's clowning
has been described as "epic clowning" because it goes deeply into
human hungers. Translator Ron Jenkins has written, "Like all great clowning,
he's talking about people who are hungry not only for food but hungry for dignity,
hungry for justice, and his clowning gives you an epic sweep and understanding
of those very deep human hungers."
Rebecca Novick, artistic director of San Francisco's
Crowded Fire, directs this Shotgun Players production with a cast that consists
of Katja Rivera as Antonia and Clive Worsley as Giovanni, with Andrea Day, Ian
Petroni and Kevin Kelleher.
"The Bay Area is something of an American home for
Fo. There's a sensibility here that fits with his politics," says
Novick. "The San Francisco Mime Troup did the American premiere of We
Won't Pay, an adaptation by (resident playwright) Joan Holden. (Berkeley
Repertory Theatre artistic director) Tony Taccone has done a lot of Fo. And ACT's
Carey Perloff , again with a Holden translation, did Fo's The Pope and
the Witch." When Fo won the Nobel in 1997 there was a veritable "Fo
Fest" around the Bay Area.
Working with Fo and his chief collaborator and wife, Franca
Rame, Jenkins penned the new translation, which premiered at American Repertory
Theatre in 1999. He updated the play with contemporary language and references
and restores Fo's original ending, so that he keeps the community in full
revolt against authority without reducing any of its spiraling absurdity. Novick
notes that Fo's language is highly colloquial and she has made several adaptations
to this production to make it about Berkeley.
Why this play now? "It's about people
who don't get depicted that often," Novick says, "people who
work and are hungry among plenty, who must choose between shelter and food. These
are the erased people, the almost homeless." In the high-cost Bay Area,
there are plenty such people, largely unseen.
by Robert Hall for
The Berkeley Daily Planet
Review by Chad Jones for
The Oakland Tribune
by Anna Kaufman for
The Daily Californian
by Lisa Drostova for
East Bay Express
by Robert Avila for
SF Bay Guardian
Directed by Rebecca Novick
Antonia: Katja Rivera
Giovanni: Clive Worsley
Featuring: Andrea Day, Ian Petroni and Kevin Kelleher.
Sept 12th & 13th at 8 PM
Sept 14th at 8 PM
- Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 7pm
October 19 at 7 PM
$10 All Thursdays
$12-$18 All other day
$25 Opening Night
Eighth Street Studio
2525 Eighth St.
between Dwight Way & Parker
for a map.