50’s beach theme brings lighthearted fun to 2,500-year-old play

Lane Riggs

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Lysistrata convinces the other women of Athens to not give into men and sex until their husbands agree to stay home and stop fighting wars. Lysistrata opens March 3 at 7:30 p.m. and closing night will be March 13 at 2:30 p.m. There will be a Meet, Greet, and Eat with the cast of Lysistrata at 5:30 p.m. March 5, held in the Fain Fine Arts Center Lobby before the 7:30 p.m. show. Photo by Rachel Johnson

Lysistrata convinces the other women of Athens to not give into men and sex until their husbands agree to stay home and stop fighting wars. Lysistrata opens March 3 at 7:30 p.m. and closing night will be March 13 at 2:30 p.m. There will be a Meet, Greet, and Eat with the cast of Lysistrata at 5:30 p.m. March 5, held in the Fain Fine Arts Center Lobby before the 7:30 p.m. show. Photo by Rachel Johnson

The theater department will show the first performance of Lysistrata, a comedy penned by Aristophanes, on March 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fain Fine Arts Center Theatre. Cast and crew have been rehearsing since the second week of the spring semester to make this age-old play one that will interest students without intimidating them. Director Karen Dabney has found a solution: photo booths and a 50’s beach theme that she has incorporated into the play.

The humor of a comedy from Greece some 2,500 years ago may lose its humor when presented to a younger audience. Jokes from then are harder to understand for most students of this day and age, if even they are understood at all. With the addition of swimsuits and the photo booth, though, a younger element of humor is presented.

“In the photo booth, we’re going to have props like beach balls,” Dabney said. “I wanted to make it an experience. Hopefully the students will have fun as soon as they come into the building.”

Dabney first started directing campus plays in the fall, and underneath her directions, the upcoming production has changed.

“Because it’s such an old play, the humor isn’t always going to translate,” she said. “So we rearranged the ending, mixed up the order. It makes the production more unique, and there’s more of a focus on relationships instead of war.”

The play features on the battle between the sexes, when leading role Lysistrata convinces the other women of Athens to deny their husbands sex until the ongoing civil war is brought to an end by a peace treaty. The ending Aristophanes wrote concludes with an end to the war, but Dabney has changed the last 15-20 minutes so that it instead ends with a concentration on relationships.

“With our ending, everybody comes to peace. It’s a different way to end it,” she said. “Our focus on relationships with the 50’s theme made the war seem like a turf battle, and that helped to make it light and cheeky.”

Dabney said for students, the twist could make the play more enjoyable. As could the photo booth and the meet-and-greet on March 5 at 5:30 p.m., hosted in collaboration with the Arts and Literature Society. Both will be held in the Fain lobby.

During the meet-and-greet, cast members will talk about the process and interact with students over food provided from Gyros and Kebobs. This will give students a chance to see the finished product at the show immediately following at 7:30 p.m., and also a peek behind-the-scenes. Time permitting, members of the Art and Literature Society may read the lines to provide literary analysis, which could help other students understand the play more when it is later presented with the changes.  

“It’s more relatable with the changes we made,” said Rachel Innes, assistant director and theater sophomore. “It really makes the ending stronger. I hope it gets people excited, because the play is really fun and spunky. It’s Will Ferrell humor.”

With the humor and the new events that are being held, Innes said she hopes that students who have never seen a play before will come, as does Sarah Chong Harmer, theater junior.

“There are a lot of different things to entice people. The theme is the biggest attraction, and I want people to tell their friends to see the play because of it,” Harmer said. “The ending is different, but regardless of the process, it’s the product that matters.”

The product is a different play than any others that the theater department has produced recently, in that, according to Innes, it has more body humor, and so it is more sexualized.

Leading role and theater and performance sophomore Kaylor Winter-Roach said upon reading the play for the first time, the jokes were lost on her; the changes made have helped to fine tune the humor, and explain the aged jokes in a lighter tone.

“I was unsure at first, but now that we rearranged the ending, I feel more comfortable now because it ends smoother,” Roach said. “The twist is more with the time, as well, and so it’s more understandable to a wider audience.”

Roach has performed in plays such as She Kills Monsters and Thread Count, but has not been a leading role until now.

“My last big role was probably in the eighth grade. I’ve never had such a big role,” she said. “I’m constantly helped by other roles if I forget my lines. They save my life.”

As opening night draws closer, finishing touches are being made to costumes and props, and Innes’ said she feels her excitement rise.

“It was a lot of work, but it was very educational. It’s a great experience,” Innes said. “I’m excited for people to see it because it’s something we’ve never done before.”

PERFORMANCES

  • March 3-5, 7:30 p.m.
  • March 6, 2:30 p.m.
  • March 11-12, 7:30 p.m.
  • March 13, 2:30 p.m.
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