BOESMAN AND LENA by Athol Fugard

DIYAR THEATRE, Bethlehem  
Dar Annadwa Arts Center and tour, 2014.
by Dario Fo

Ambassador Theatre at Flashpoint
Washington DC

Directed by Joe Martin with Danny Rovin
For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances
the freedom of others.
                                                                             Nelson Mandela

People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes
more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
                  Nelson Mandela
Hanna Bondarewska as
Antonia and Moriah
Whiteman as Margherita
in They Don’t Pay? We
Won’t Pay!from
Ambassador Theater
(Photo: Valentin Radev)
Left to right: Peter
Orivetti, Hanna
Bonderewka, Darren
Marquardt, Mitch
Irzinski, and Moriah
Whiteman. The
mural-style vaudeville
curtain created by
With Hanin Tarabay as Lena, Osama al-Jabri as Boesman and Emil Mitri as Outa.
The West Bank premiere of Boesman and Lena,
before the tour, was attended by a full house, and
was followed by a discussion of the play and the way
that living under Apartheid in South Africa or
occupation in Israel-Palestine affect human relations
and the mindset of those subject to arbitrary power of
others without recourse.
DC Theatre Scene

They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!
from Ambassador Theater (review)
March 7, 2016 by Daron Christopher

... Just in time to mark Fo’s 90th birthday, co directors Joe Martin and Danny Rovin’s
latest rendition, presented by Ambassador Theater, seamlessly adapts the action to Great
Recession-era Newark: talk of foreclosures, grumbling over bailed out banks, references
to Ben Bernanke...

With wages depressed and the cost of living ever increasing, a group of women decide to
take direct action by helping themselves to “five finger discounts” at the grocery store.
They include Antonia (Hanna Bondarewska) and Margherita (Moriah Whiteman),
whose capacity for direct action greatly exceeds their husbands, Giovanni (Darren
Marquardt) and Luigi (Mitch Irzinski). The men, ground into exhaustion by the low
pay and tedium of their work, have a longer journey in imagining how to even begin
meaningful rebellion. Giovanni, in particular, would go without food before considering
picking up his wife’s brand of civil disobedience (...)
In politics, the expression “Marxist farce” could well be a slur hurled by some
puerile and petulant presidential hopeful (you never know these days). In theater,
however, the term “Marxist farce”; has a reputable history and legitimate meaning
as the name of a genre. It just doesn’t pop up much. In the economics of
commercial theater, Marxist farce is a rare bird, and it’s no longer much seen
in the U.S. indie theater scene either... Thanks to Ambassador Theater you can
catch this classic work of working-class consciousness in a terrifically witty revival
at Flashpoint.

In They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!, Fo borrows farcical techniques from the
Commedia Dell’Arte and boulevard theater of his native Italy as well as the Theatre
of the Absurd. American audiences unfamiliar with these European traditions might
more likely recognize echoes of Abbott and Costello, I Love Lucy, Martin and
ewis, and Jackie Gleason’s The Honeymooners...

Ambassador Theater’s enjoyable production of They Don’t Pay? We Won’t
Pay! smartly showcases a classic by one of world theater’s most influential political
The production design effectively captures the cramped frustration of the characters’ living
space and makes effective use of the one other setting: a mural on a curtain depicting a
range of ordinary laborers, circa 1930s. It’s the kind of image that evokes the art that
dotted lobbies and corridors in countless buildings during the heyday of the Works
Progress Administration...

As the final moments of They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! allude, most of us who make
our living from wages should see ourselves in these images and stories, even as the
clothing or the language -changes. We let them fade at our collective peril.
DC Metro Theatre Arts

Magic Time! ‘They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!’ at
Ambassador Theater
by John Stoltenberg on March 7, 2016
Productions from the last two decades