Desperate Housewives of Athens

Fools for Tragedy’s “Lysistrata”

Jordan Gwiazdowski, artistic director, has put together a modernized adaptation of the ancient Greek comedy.

By - Mar 12th, 2013 04:00 am

Not many ancient Greek comedies get produced these days, and Lysistrata is especially seldom seen – maybe because its uppity women and frank raunchiness have always made people uncomfortable. But in an age of gender-reversals and anything-goes comedy, Lysistrata‘s time may have come.

So thinks Jordan Gwiazdowski, artistic director of Fools for Tragedy. The company will present a modernized, stripped-down version of Aristophanes’ famous 5th-century B.C tale, about what happens when the women of Athens, fed up with their husbands’ endless war with Sparta, decide to go on a sex strike.

Jen Gaul plays Lysistrata in Fools for Tragedy’s production, representing the seventies’ feminist revolutionaries.

The production imagines Greece as a reflection of current American culture, with Gwiazdowski describing each of the show’s four primary women as representative of a progressive female perspective from the past. Housewife Calonice (Amber Smith) is a strong sixties woman, Lysistrata (Jen Gaul) represents the feminist revolution of the early seventies, Lampito (Laura Holterman) is a tough, butch, eighties rocker/biker chick, and Myrrhine (Michelle White) is a lost generation, nineties grunge girl.

Those broad-stroke characterizations make for great character roles – fully Gwiazdowski’s intention. “There’s a ton of strong female talent in this town, so we’re putting these really rocking strong women onstage,” Gwiazdowski said. “The men might be portrayed slightly oafish; that’s just balancing the scales. The play is written in a time when making women seem strong was done as comedy, so the women get portrayed as slightly overboard caricatures too.”

Like the original, the Fools for Tragedy production will feature some not-for-children humor, appropriate to its subject matter. “I’d say it will be a PG-13, if not R-rated production.” Gwiazdowski said. “The language is a bit racy, and there will be erections onstage. I want to approach it as realistically as possible, so they won’t be four feet long, but they will still be slightly exaggerated and comical.”

Gwiazdowski isn’t just doing this for the laughs, though. He said the production is spinning off the recent debate over women’s rights and the “war on women,” and has a serious relevance in the current political climate. “We talk about equality and giving women choices and a voice, but when they actually take that voice, we demonize them or push it to the side and say their view isn’t really valid. I think we need to realize as a society that it’s not about giving one person more power than the other; it’s just about equality of voice.”

Fools for Tragedy’s production of Lysistrata, also featuring Gwiazdowski, Robby McGhee and Laura McDonald, will be performed March 14 to 23 at Carte Blanche Studios, with a pay-what-you-can performance March 20 to benefit a friend of the theater community in need. Tickets are $10; visit the company’s Brown Paper Tickets page to order.

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