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Northern Broadsides & York Theatre Royal Present

They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!

by Dario Fo

a new adaptation by Deborah McAndrew

based on a translation by Jon Laskin and Michael Aquilante

Directed by Conrad Nelson
Designed by Jessica Worrall
Lighting by Douglas Kuhrt

Opening venue: York Theatre Royal – 5-13 October 2018 National tour: 16 October –2 Dec 2018

After their recent acclaimed co-production of J.B. Priestley’s timeless comedy When We Are Married, Northern Broadsides and York Theatre Royal will once again join forces to stage They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!, Deborah McAndrew’s new adaptation transposed to Brexit Britain of Dario Fo’s political satire of civil disobedience Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!

Directed by Artistic Director  Conrad Nelson, the new adaptation based on Jon Laskin and Michael Aquilante’s translation, will premiere at York Theatre Royal

They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! tells the story of Anthea who gets mixed up in a riot at her local supermarket and seizes the opportunity to stock her empty cupboards and those of her friend. But what will the two friends tell their law-abiding husbands?

Deborah McAndrew’s plays have included the moving First World War drama An August Bank Holiday Lark for Northern Broadsides and New Vic Theatre which won both UK Theatre Award and Manchester Theatre Award for Best New Play 2014. Her credits for Northern Broadsides include Hard Times (2018), Cyrano (2017) A Government Inspector (2012) and  Accidental Death Of An Anarchist (2008).

Playwright Deborah McAndrew said:

“Dario Fo tackled everything through comedy – no matter how unfunny that might appear to be. In his Italy of the 1970s there are clear parallels with the kind of food poverty we see in 21st Century Britain – with the growth of food banks and holiday hunger projects etc… It’s interesting to note that Fo reworked this play himself in 2010. He updated the references and changed the title from the original Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! but it’s pretty much the same play. In fact, the amendments he made to the ending seem to express a feeling of sorrow that in almost 40 years little has changed.

Like Accidental Death of an Anarchist, which I adapted for Northern Broadsides in 2008, They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! is a great fit for a company with a bold, narrative style and a direct connection to its audience in performance. They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! is fast and funny, but also sharp and relevant – providing countless opportunities to satirise the state of our own politics and the plight of the poorest people in society at a time of sustained austerity policy, Brexit, and ideological infighting on both sides of the Commons.”

Conrad Nelson’s directing credits include the Northern Broadsides productions of The Bells (2004), Vacuum (2006), Blake Morrison’s Lisa’s Sex Strike (2007), Accidental Death of an Anarchist (2008), Canterbury Tales, adapted by Mike Poulton (2010), 1984 (2010) ,Cyrano (2017) and most recently Hard Times (2018). Other directing work includes: Anna of the Five Towns, I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire and Oleanna (New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme) and Ballroom Blitz (Hull Truck Theatre).

Director  Conrad Nelson said:

“We’re delighted to be working with the terrific team at York Theatre Royal on our third co-production. Both companies share similar values and energies in the pursuit of theatre with the highest values of quality and integrity.

Ten years ago, I rebooted Fo’s play, Accidental Death of an Anarchist. The new version coincided with the inquest on the death of Jean Charles de Menezes on the London underground.

Fo’s drama is all about timing and context and our new adaptation gives us the opportunity to bring a fresh and vibrant voice to the work while remaining faithful to the play and the original intentions of the author.

Last year, I shared a performance space with a food bank and a furniture mine. It was a site-specific piece performed on the site of the former Spode ceramic factory in Stoke on Trent.  This year the European exit continues but the good news is that business is booming at the food bank and the furniture mine.

In Deborah McAndrew’s witty new adaptation Fo’s sharp satire and theatrical anarchy is firmly re-located and re-voiced in the Northern Powerhouse of contemporary Brexit Britain. It’s all about the timing. We’re in a mess. You’ve just gotta laugh… haven’t you? “

They Don’t Pay? We Wont’t Pay! is designed by Jessica Worrall (Two Noble Kinsmen, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and When We Are Married, Northern Broadsides and York Theatre Royal) with lighting by Douglas Kuhrt (Pitmen Painters, Live Theatre, West End and Broadway). Casting will be announced shortly.

NEWS:  The new executive team of Conrad Nelson and Kay Packwood are now in post.

Conrad Nelson, Artistic Director and Joint CEO said about his appointment:

“I am delighted to be leading one of the country’s most treasured theatre companies over the next 12 months and onto the next stage of its development. From classical repertoire to new works and adaptations, over the last 26 years Northern Broadsides has been synonymous with producing high quality and award- winning drama, with a strong regional voice. We will continue to support the development of new writing and to bring new voices and artists from diverse backgrounds to the stage.

Kay’s 17 years with Northern Broadsides and her wider experience within the industry has placed her perfectly to lead the Company alongside Artistic Director, Conrad Nelson.

“I am really excited to be joining forces with Conrad in planning the future of Northern Broadsides.  I intend to uphold the company’s core values whilst taking Broadsides to the next generation.” Kay Packwood, Executive Director and Joint CEO


Thank you every penny counts in the Arts!


Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE
Stephanie Cole OBE
Sir Tom Courtenay
Prof Edith Hall
Mike Harding
Roger Harvey OBE
Sir Lenny Henry CBE
Blake Morrison
Mike Poulton
Dame Ingrid Roscoe DCVO, FSA
The Rt. Hon. Lord Shutt of Greetland OBE, FCA
Meera Syal CBE

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