News & Information

'¡No Se Paga!' fights corruption with humor


Are they pregnant or smuggling groceries? Marianne Gaona, left, John Dryden and Layla Oghabian in a scene from "¡No Se Paga!"

The police inspector is trying to decide: Did Margarita’s and Antonia’s pregnancies miraculously turn into groceries, or, faced with layoffs and escalating prices, are they just stealing food under their coats?

That’s one of the situations faced by the characters of ¡No Se Paga! (We Won’t Pay) being staged at Sacramento State’s Playwrights’ Theatre. The play was written by Dario Fo and is directed by Sacramento State Professor Manuel Pickett.

Performances are at 8 p.m., March 3-5 and 11-12; 2 p.m. March 6 and 13; and 6:30 p.m. March 9 and 10. Tickets for the 6:30 performances are $8 general admission and $5 for children. All other performances are $12 general; $10 for students, seniors and Sac State employees; and $8 for children.

When their pay goes down and the food prices go up, the characters face some major decisions. Geraldo was once an activist for farmworkers’ rights. Now he’s a shop steward and reluctant to rock the boat. Meanwhile his wife, Antonia, is inciting riots at the supermarket and sneaking food home, even if it is pet food.

“It’s a play about victims and being caught up in a corrupt society,” Pickett says.

But while the subject matter is serious, Fo approaches it from a satirical point of view. “It’s extremely funny. It has some really hilarious situations,” Pickett says.

The cast is comprised of five actors. Four of them portray the two couples at the forefront of the story. The fifth plays five characters – the police inspector, a trucker, a mariachi, a soldier and the father of one of the other characters.

That multi-role went to John Dryden, a Sac State graduate who returned to work with Pickett again, and because he likes the play. “It’s about working class people and those who are letting a system put them down versus those who protest against it,” Dryden says.

The couples are portrayed by Jose Perales, Marianne Gaona, Erik Meza and Layla Oghabian.

¡No Se Paga! is presented in a mix of English and Spanish, but is understandable to everyone and conveys the background of the characters, Pickett says.

Tickets are available at the University Ticket Office, (916) 278-4323 or More information is available at or (916) 278-3569. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.