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Adrian’s Latest Play Empowers Women

On February 20-22 at 7:30 P.M., and on the 23 of February, the matinee show will be at 2 P.M.,

Adrian College Theatre Department is hosting the play “Lysistrata.” translated by Sarah Ruden. According to https://www.ancient-literature.com, it’s a bawdy anti-war comedy by the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes, first staged in 411 BCE. It is the comic account of one woman’s extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War, as Lysistrata convinces the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands as a means of forcing the men to negotiate a peace. Some consider it his greatest work, and it is probably the most anthologized.

Lysistrata, a strong Athenian woman with a great sense of individual responsibility, reveals her plan to take matters into her own hands and end the interminable Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. She has convened a meeting of women from various city states in Greece and, with support from the Spartan Lampito, she explains to the other women her plan: that they are to withhold sexual privileges from their menfolk as a means of forcing them to bring an end to the war.

The women are dubious and reluctant at first, but the deal is sealed with a long and solemn oath around a wine bowl, and the women agree to abjure all sexual pleasures, including various specifically mentioned sexual positions. At the same time, another part of Lysistrata’s plan (a precautionary measure) comes to fruition as the old women of Athens seize control of the nearby Acropolis, which holds the state treasury, without which the men cannot long continue to fund their war. The word of revolt is spread and the other women retreat behind the barred gates of the Acropolis to await the men’s response.

A chorus of men arrive, intent on burning down the gate of the Acropolis if the women do not open up. However, before the men can make their preparations, a second chorus of women arrive bearing pitchers of water. An argument ensues and threats are exchanged, but the women successfully defend their younger comrades and the men receive a good soaking in the process.

A magistrate reflects on the hysterical nature of women and their devotion to wine, promiscuous sex and exotic cults, but above all he blames the men for the poor supervision of their womenfolk. He needs silver from the treasury for the war effort, and he and his constables try to break into the Acropolis, but are quickly overwhelmed by groups of unruly women with long, strange names.

Lysistrata restores some order after the fracas, and allows the magistrate to question her about her scheme and the war. She explains to him the frustrations that women feel at a time of war, when the men make stupid decisions that affect everyone and their wife’s opinions are not listened to. She expresses pity for the young, childless women, left to grow old at home during the best years of their lives, while the men are away on endless military campaigns, and she constructs an elaborate analogy in which she shows that Athens should be structured as a woman would spin wool. To illustrate her points, Lysistrata and the women dress the magistrate up, first as a woman and then as a corpse. Eventually, he storms off to report the incident to his colleagues, and Lysistrata returns to the Acropolis.

To find out what happens at the end, catch the Adrian College theatre department on February 22-23.

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