Food for Thought: Spring Theatre Production Pairs with Boxer Food Share to Talk Food Insecurity and Political Resistance
Pacific University’s Department of Theatre & Dance presents Dario Fo’s political farce They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! March 14-17 in the Tom Miles Theatre on the Forest Grove Campus.
Director Jacob Coleman will work with actors to “create a portrait of real working class humans whose circumstances necessitate explosive physicality, a kind of desperate, delightful clowning.” Coleman is a founding member and co-artistic director of Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble, whose recent productions include Uncle Vanya, Procedures for Saying No, and [or, the whale].
“Dario Fo, and this play in particular, mixes the rhythm of slapstick comedy and farce with a unique form of absurd political theatre,” says Coleman. “So while there are certainly strong political messages in the play, the way they are expressed is through ridiculous gags and chase scenes, a circus of everyday life.”
They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! explores the everyday lives of two couples, Antonia and Giovanni, and Margherita and Luigi. With all of them struggling to make ends meet, Antonia’s sudden haul of groceries made “free” by a riot turns their lives upside down. Pregnant with their loot and concerned their scrupulous husbands will turn them in, the women hatch a plan to hide the food. All the while, their community is in the midst of worker strikes and political unrest.
“The play examines how the chaos and corruption of political systems ends up manifesting in everyday interactions between friends and partners. The sense that national politics and global economic issues are affecting the way we interact with one another day-to-day feels really contemporary, and Fo’s play is a chance to see, and laugh at, moments like the one we are living through,” says Coleman.
The Department of Theatre & Dance will be partnering with the McCall Center for Civic Engagement. The opening night performance, Thursday, March 14th, will be a pay-what-you-will night benefiting the Boxer Food Share program on campus. Boxer Food Share, located on the Forest Grove campus, serves the Pacific University community as a food pantry with nonperishable items and free select hygiene supplies. The department is proud to support ongoing efforts to help students navigate food insecurity. Audience members may bring a nonperishable food item to receive a ticket, or donate money through the purchase of a ticket online or cash at the door.
“Pacific students are passionately concerned with justice, including equal access to opportunities and sustainable lives," says Ellen Margolis, Theatre & Dance Department chair. "This show, while packed with broad comedy, challenges the insanity of a rigged social system.”
Embracing the thrifty nature of the characters’ lives, costume designer Melissa Heller was inspired by a “trickle up theory” to make thrift store finds “into something greater than the sum of their parts.” Scenic designer Tal Sanders built the world of the play around its final image of “The Fourth Estate” by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, pulling in its architecture and stylized painting. The painting, now on display at the Museo del Novocento in Milan, depicts a workers’ strike and was used in many socialist publications before gaining popular acclaim in post-World War II Italy. The painted workers evoke the plight of Fo’s characters and their struggle for a better life.
They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! features an outstanding cast of student actors, including Elliot Lorenc, Trevor Harter, Josh Hauser, Larissa Reynoso and Emily Smith.
The show will have four performances in the Tom Miles Theatre, Warner Hall, at Pacific University’s Forest Grove Campus, running Thursday through Saturday, March 14-16, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 17 at 2 p.m. There will be a conversation with the cast and crew after the Thursday performance. For tickets, please visit pacificu.edu/theatretickets.
For more information, please contact Ellen Margolis at 503-352-2752 or Margolis@pacificu.edu.