Dario Fo’s Best Known Political Satire on Tumanishvili Stage

The recently deceased Dario Fo, an Italian actor, playwright, comedian, singer, theater director, stage designer, songwriter, and painter, is now in the repertoire of the Tumanishvili Film Actors Theater. Michele Panella, Fo’s compatriot, staged Fo’s political satire “Can’t Pay?! Won’t Pay” with a local Georgian cast that premiered in October, at the time of the great maestro’s death.

The script was translated into Georgian by Maia Japaridze, and it is an easy performance to follow if one has read the play or at least the annotations. The designer is famous Georgian artist, Simon Machabeli, and the Georgian dramatist is Manana Antadze.

The life of Michele Panella, director of the performance, was drastically changed when he met the legendary Italian theater worker, director, translator, and entrepreneur Barbara Nativi. He was a successful political scientist, then he got a professional qualification at the Laboratorio Nove Scuola di Teatro, and became the artistic director of Barbara’s famous Theater of Florence “Teatro della Limonaia” and “Intercity festival”. In 2007 and 2008, he received the Il Fiorentino prize for the development of the modern Sesto Fiorentino from the Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi. His debut as a director “Poker – dealer’s Choice,” staged according to the play of the outstanding British Dramatist Patrick Marber, was awarded the Hamlet prize for the best debut by L'Ente teatrale italiano (ETI). In 2003-2004, in collaboration with London Royal National Theater, Michele gave ground to the well-known program of modern dramaturgy, “Connections” which inspired interest among Italian youth in theater and literature.

His latest international production is presented with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, the Tbilisi Center of Cultural Events, the Italian Embassy in Tbilisi, and the Culture Association TRI BOO, Florence. The play opened on September 30, 2016. The performance was triumphantly received by the International Theater Festival GIFT. Since then it has sold out nearly every evening. Extracts from operas by Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Gioachino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti arranged by Michele Panella and Giorgi Khositashvili are presented on a stage adorned with Malevich’s reproductions.

GEORGIA TODAY spoke with Eka Andronikashvili, one of the two actresses playing the role of Margherita.

“I was really thrilled to have the chance to work with the Italian director. However, I quickly realized it was almost the same as working with the Georgian director- probably due to their similar tempers and sense of humor. The only difficulty came with needing translation. Panella differed from the Georgian directors in that he was not nervous or tired of life and therefore was more loyal, favorable and human. I got great pleasure from working with him. It wasn’t our first collaboration with a foreigner as two years ago, we worked on “Animal Farm” with Guy Masterson and took it to Edinburgh.”

Thanks to productive rehearsals Fo’s play premiered just 20 days after preperations began.

“The play has not been altered and bares similarity to the 1990s in Georgia when there was a terrible neediness, no gas, no electricity, etc,” says Andronikashvili. “The repertoire of each theater should have such performances as it is at the same time funny and also leaves a lot to contemplate. It contains revolutionary moments, as well as humor, and everyday riot.”

"Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!” is Dario Fo’s best known play internationally, having been performed in 35 countries around the world. It is a comedy about consumer backlash against high prices. Set in Milan, depicting one of the noisiest adventures of the Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo and his spouse from a different angle, the play centers on a spontaneous demonstration by housewives against rising prices at the local supermarket. It is a very funny physical farce where Antonia (Mzia Arabuli) tries to hide the fact that she smuggled food out of a supermarket during a food riot from her husband Giovanni (Temo Gvalia) by forcing her friend Margherita (Eka Andronikashvili) to feign pregnancy, to the astonishment of the latter’s husband Luigi (Nika Tserediani). Complications ensue, including the appearance of buffoonish police detectives, a grave man, the Pope, politicians, and the director of a factory among others. Many of the roles are played by Gia Abesalashvili and Guga Kakhiani  who manage to change characters masterfully. This energetic social farce presents some serious social and political themes that make us understand that the crisis in the quality of life itself must be addressed not only by ruling institutions, but by each of us, and it reminds us of our responsibility to be involved in social life in the pursuit of happiness, liberty and better living.


WHERE: Agmashenebeli Ave., 164 (next to the German Consulate)

Ticket: Gel 7,10,12,15

Duration: 90 minutes

Maka Lomadze

16 February 2017 18:46