Ancient Greek comedy, ‘Lysistrata,’ opens this weekend

It’s 411 BCE. The Peloponnesian War is ongoing. A woman named Lysistrata takes it upon herself to help stop the war by persuading other women to withhold sex from their husbands until the Greek cities stop and make peace. With that, comedy is sure to ensue.

Photo courtesy of UAA Department of Theatre and Dance.
Photo courtesy of UAA Department of Theatre and Dance.

The bawdy play, originally written by playwright Aristophanes and first performed in 411 BC, is about to be on show by UAA’s Department of Theatre and Dance.

“This production is very much a product of the students taking agency in the kind of work that they want to explore. It was suggested in our play selection committee by students and had the eager recommendation of the students behind its nomination,” Ty Hewitt, director, wrote in an email.

“Lysistrata,” the first play of the department’s spring season, started rehearsals in January and is promised to be a “hilarious” performance.

“I think my favorite part of working in this play has been seeing how funny and creative my fellow actors are,” Salem Collins, sophomore theater and pre-veterinary major, said. “They’ve really brought this play to life and some of them are so funny I have a hard time keeping a straight face on stage.”

Collins plays the parts of Calonice, wife A and Reconciliation.

Many of the actors and the director warn audiences that the play is for mature audiences only. There are mature themes, sexual innuendos and crude language.

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“It’s the kind of show that I’m like, ‘hmm, I don’t think my parents will like it’ but I think college students will love it. I think there’s a really good balance of using old text that has something that can be picked up as ‘ooh, that could be controversial today’ but being aware of that and approaching it the right way. [“Lysistrata”] is also the most absurd comedy I’ve got to work on. It’s very fun,” James Kendall said.

Kendall is a senior theater major and playing one of the Men’s Chorus members.

Petra Murray is a member of the Women’s Chorus is senior and some of her favorite parts of working on “Lysistrata” include getting to learn new acting techniques like working with masks, which makes actors rely on body language and not facial expression, and having the liberation to tweak her character.

“The Women’s Chorus is made up of three members who move and speak together as a cohesive unit. When working on our parts early on in the rehearsal process, [Hewitt] gave us the freedom to play with our lines a bit and figure out what lines we wanted to share, if we wanted to repeat certain lines and what kind of personalities we could create for our characters,” Murray said.

Hewitt echoed Murray, saying that many of the “best ideas” came from the students.

“The best moments in the show are a direct result of the actors making bold choices and experimenting with ways to distort and exaggerate — and push the boundaries — within the action of the play,” Hewitt wrote.

The cast and crew have been working hard and rehearsing for opening night on March 1.

The show runs approximately an hour and a half without intermission. The show has a total of six performances, March 1-3 and 8-10. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m. and Sunday’s shows are at 5 p.m. at the Mainstage Theatre in the Fine Arts Building. Tickets can be bought at ArtsUAA.com.

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