We Won’t Pay!  We Won’t Pay!
by Dario Fo
Directed by Rodney Higginbotham

Fall, 2002

Two young women get involved in a riot to protest the high prices at the local grocery store and find themselves tangled up in a
web of lies told to their husbands that involve hidden groceries and a fake pregnancy.  The antics of these two are very
reminiscent of the escapades of Lucy and Ethel from the original I Love Lucy television series.

CHICAGO –We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay! is the first main stage production of the 2002-2003 theater season at Northeastern Illinois University’s (NEIU) Stage Center Theatre.  The show runs Thursdays through Saturdays, October 10-12, 17-19, and 24-26 at 7:30 p.m. at NEIU’s Stage Center Theatre, Building F, 5500 North St. Louis Avenue in Chicago.

The play, written by Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo, translated from Italian, is a sidesplitting satire.  Hunger is a recurring theme in the author’s comedies and the central characters of We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay! are driven by their hungers to break free of the restrictions in which poverty has confined them.

 The plot focuses on two young women who get involved in a riot protesting the high prices at the local grocery store.  They find themselves tangled up in a web of lies told to their husbands that involve hidden groceries and a fake pregnancy.  Slapstick confusion develops in this rollicking farce.  Rodney Higginbotham, associate professor, speech and performing arts, directs the NEIU production.

The state trooper nabs two suspected supermarket thieves
during the rehearsal.  L to R--David Ropinski, Brian Avis, Mike Wilson
Are they really pregnant overnight or are they hiding stolen groceries under their shirts?  L to R--Anna Zimowska, David
Ropinski, Garrett West.

Cast

Antonia………………………………………….. Garrett West
Giovanni………………………………………… David Ropinski
Margherita……………………………………… Anna Zimowska
Luigi…………………………………………….... Mike Wilson
State Trooper, Police Sargent,………………..… Bryan Avis
Gravedigger, Grandfather


I won't give my consent!
Anna Zimowska, Garrett West, Asma Ali, 
Bryan Avis, Dave Ropinski
What do you expcect? He's a cop!
Anna Zimowska, Bryan Avis, Garrett West
W
We're going to surf Lake Michigan!
Anna Zimowska, Mike Wilson, Garrett West, Dave Ropinski
Weld! Hammer! Drill!
Dave Ropinski, Mike Wilson

Crew
Director………………… Rodney Higginbotham
Assistant Director/Stage Manager….........…Linnea Carrera
Set/Light Designer…… Robert G. Smith
Light Operator………..Linnea Carrera
Sound Designer…………….Jeng Fong
Sound Operator.……….Michelle Lacey
Prop Master…………...Andrea Smela
Prop Crew……….Asma Ali, Eric Steier, Nada Woods
Costumer……. Tina Haglund
Box Office Manager….........Michelle Lange
Publicity Coordinator….……..Heidi Sullivan Lyons
Assistant Publicity Coordinator……..….Sonja Thrush

The Comedy of Hunger by Ron Jenkins:

Hunger is a recurring theme in the comedies of Dario Fo. His characters are not just hungry for food. They are hungry for dignity, hungry for justice, and hungry for love. The protagonists of We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay' are driven by their collective hungers to break free from the constraints in which their poverty has confined them. Their initial challenge to the laws of the "free market" propels them into a comic defiance of the laws of human reproduction. Men get pregnant, women give birth to cabbages, and amniotic fluid becomes the source of a gourmet meal.  The mechanisms of farce become metaphors for liberation. Slapstick confusion begets new ways of under-standing the world.

Although they inhabit a world of spiraling absurdity, Fo's characters are as real as their hunger. A few months after the play's 1974 premiere in Italy several women were arrested for "liberating" food from supermarkets in much the same manner as depicted in We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! The prosecuting attorneys tried to draw Fo into the trial as an accessory for inciting the crime, but the judge overruled the suggestion, apparently agreeing with the writer, who claims that his plays are nothing more than "documentary reflections of a world in which reality has become its own satire."

We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! has been staged in over thirty countries around the world. "It is a mistake," says Fo, "to dismiss these people as crazy Italian caricatures who speak in phony accents, sing corny love songs, and eat pasta on red and white checkered tablecloths. The stereotypes that foreigners have of Italians are full of cliches that keep us at a distance and prevent a genuine understanding of the problems we all share in common." like Chaplin's tramp reduced to eating his shoe in The Gold Rush, Fo's clowns suffer from hungers with which everyone can identify.. Samuel Beckett wrote that "nothing is funnier than unhappiness."  In the comedies of Dario Fo, the same might be said of starvation
_____________
Ron Jenkins, Professor of Theater at Wesleyan University and a former Guggenheim Fellow, is the author of "Dario Fo fa Franca Rame: Artful Laughter" (Aperture Press), and the translator of Fo's collected works. (Theater Communications Group).

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