Presenting a work written 2,424 years ago to a modern audience is no simple task. Yet that is what the members of All College Theatre did this past week, as they performed Aristophanes’s hit play “Lysistrata” (written in 411 B.C.), and the performers did so admirably.
Working off an adaptation of the play from 2003, ACT members told the audience the story of an Athenian woman, titular character Lysistrata, who sought to end the 20-year long Peloponnesian war by convincing all the women of Greece to band together and deny the men the one thing they knew men could not go without: sex.
The overall theme of the play, despite what the premise may suggest, is one of equality and peace, with several speeches regarding the lousy ways women are treated — both at the time it was originally written and in the present day.
“It feels really good to (play Lysistrata),” said sophomore business management and women’s and gender studies double major Grace Flagler, who portrayed the lead. “I believe in everything the character is saying, and I really feel like a lot of the themes about equality and peace ring true today.”
The themes of the play do indeed carry over from generation to generation. But don’t just take the word of current students at the College — ask those who preceded them.
“This play is absolutely timeless — I mean, written in 411 B.C. and it still works!” said class of ’72 alumna Doris Woscyna, who played Lysistrata in 1970 and “loved the show” as a member of the audience this time around.
As serious and important as the overarching themes of the play may have been, the show itself was, in fact, a comedy, highlighted toward the end of the play with the male cast members. Laughter abounded when the men wandered on stage with, to put it lightly, very noticeable bulges around their midriffs.
As you might imagine, giant fake erections were not always the most comfortable thing for the men of the cast to wear while performing.
“It’s really fun, although a little awkward,” said sophomore political science major Sam Waxenbaum, who performed as two unnamed men in the show. “But after a few instances of ‘I’ve got to watch the way I turn,’ you pretty much come out and know that people are either going to laugh or gasp at your appearance.”
The prosthetics also caused some problems during the production stage of putting on the show.
“When we first got (the giant fake phalluses), all the guys knew it wasn’t going to work,” Waxenbaum said. “So we redesigned them. We basically had a workshop, ‘How to Build a Better Boner.’”
As the cast was quick to point out, however, focusing too much on the pretend playthings was not the intention of the play.
“If you really concentrate on the penis parts, you’re missing the point of the show,” sophomore international business major Adam New said, playing Old Geezer #1. “At the heart of it, it’s really an anti-war message. The rest is just there for laughs.”
With a clever blend of humor and serious discussion, ACT’s production of “Lysistrata” certainly gave the audience a lot to think about.