|Internationalt Lysistrata Project: let's make
love, not war.|
Have you ever heard of "International Lysistrata Project"? On March 3,
2003, fifty-nine countries hosted 1,029 readings of Lysistrata,
Aristophane's anti-war comedy,
to protest the Bush Administration's unilateral war on Iraq.
Readings were held in theatres large and small, schools, churches,
libraries, in music halls, homes, cafes, community centers, clubs, subway
cars, parks, and on street corners. More than 300,000 people attended
readings organized by the 1,029 Lysistrata Project "spearheads."
Readings raised an estimated $125,000 for non-profit organizations
working for peace and humanitarian aid. Some readings didn't raise money,
but the fact that they occurred at all resonated as a powerful symbol of
world citizens united for peace. For example, a secret reading in northern
Iraq was organized by members of the international press corps, who had to
keep quiet about it or risk losing their jobs.
Lysistrata Project participants earned the news coverage they received. The Project was
featured on multiple CNN news programs, PBS' Lehrer News Hour, and many
network and local news programs. Dozens of radio programs featured stories
about the project, including NPR's All Things Considered and Dutch,
French, German, Canadian, Japanese and Greek stations.
Voice of the Lysistrata
The idea for Lysistrata Project was hatched in early January 2003, when New York
actresses Kathryn Blume and Sharron Bower were inspired by Theaters
Against War (THAW) to actually do something about their feelings regarding
the war on Iraq.
Kathryn Blume says that the purpose of the Lysistrata Project is not
education, but expression, and above all, "to make it clear that President
Bush does not speak for all Americans."
"Though we are not necessarily suggesting these tactics be used to end
this war, Lysistrata provides a humorous entree into a healthy
community dialogue: What CAN the women do on a local level to stop
"diplomacy by violence" in our world?"
Interviewed on NPR in January, Blume said the worldwide act of
theatrical dissent aims to engage participants and audiences in antiwar
dialogue. One of the hopes is to provide an alternative to the constant
stream of war talk issuing from the White House and dominating the mass
media. About the play
Lysistrata, a comedy by Greek dramatist Aristophanes (447 -
385 BC), tells the story of a group of women from opposing states who
unite to end the Peloponnesian
After matronly stormtroopers take over the building where public funds
are kept, the women rise to end the war by withholding sex from their
mates -- Until, desperate for intimacy, the men finally agree to lay down
their swords and see their way to achieving diplomatic peace.
The original Lysistrata was performed to a war-weary audience
that had already endured two decades of civil war and still had seven more
to go. The Athenians' army was decimated, their economy was in ruins, and,
as they didn't have enough problems, they had recently undertaken a
disastrous invasion of Sicily that wiped out nearly their entire fleet.
But Aristophanes knew how to please an audience; like all his
theatrical works, Lysistrata is a fantasy and a happy one at
that. Lysistrata helps negotiate a truce between Athens and Sparta and
peace is restored across the land. The men lay down their swords,
Lysistrata and her sisters open their arms (and their legs) and the
bedrooms of Greece echo with the moans and sighs of conjugal bliss. Not so
far out, really, when you think about it.