Play Reading in English - Can't pay! Won't pay! by Dario Fo


HK English Speaking Union
  • Mon 16-10-2017 7:15 PM - 2 h


Free admission


This month’s play is one of the most internationally acclaimed modern dramas. A political satire written in popular language, Can’t Pay! Won’t Pay! was revived in Washington DC just last year shortly before Fo 's death at age 90. Twenty six years earlier in 1997 Fo was awarded the Nobel prize for literature. His work refers back to the traditional Italian theatre form of commedia del arte with its cast of stereotypical  characters - for example the boastful soldier, the lecherous old man, the cunning servant and the star crossed lovers.

His work also evokes the history of Italian mediaeval strolling players who invented the figure of the slap-stick clown, Zanni, which is the prototype of the English word zany, meaning ‘mad’ or ‘madcap’. This mediaeval comic tradition has a healthy disregard for authority, a  prevalent feature in Dario Fo's dramatic work, particularly in his famous absurd comedy Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Fo’s plays look at modern-day themes of political power, corruption and consumerism among other topics, all of which feature in Can't pay! Won't pay !

The drama begins with a group of strong, determined working-class women who have rebelled against the sharp rise in the cost of living by taking overpriced goods without payment from the supermarket. They then try to conceal their course of action from the police. Interestingly the husband of one of these ladies is strongly opposed to this form of shoplifting, and it is no  coincidence that he is a communist trade union leader. The police equally are satirised in Fo’s dramatic portrait. The dramatist’s reaction to the hysteria and hypocrisy of the Italian press and the political figures of both left and right is to employ the weapon of laughter, even farce, which he firmly believed can open people's minds to receive ideas they might otherwise reject.

Facilitator: Julian Quail (Can’t pay); Co-facilitator: Mike Ingham (Won’t pay)

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