Ladies, let's talk racy sex and revolution

2013-03-07T00:00:00Z Ladies, let's talk racy sex and revolutionKathleen Allen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Things weren't quite as racy back in 411 B.C. as they are now.

Which made Aristophanes' "Lysistrata" all the more shocking.

The play had women talking about sex, for goodness' sake.

And they liked it.

But back in those days, talk of sex wasn't the shocker. The Greeks were pretty frank about it.

What was racy was the thought that women were capable of effecting change. They were pretty darn low on the social ladder, rarely given credit for thinking and taking action.

Yet Aristophanes makes them the central figure in his play. And do they ever take action.

Led by Lysistrata, the women agree to withhold their favors from husbands and lovers for one reason: to end the seemingly endless Peloponnesian War.

And they would occupy the Acropolis.

It was a tad scandalous for those times.

In 2013, women's capabilities are acknowledged and given credence (or so we like to think). Back then, not so much.

Still, Aristophanes' play continues to resonate, says Nicole Scott, who is directing the Beowulf Alley Theatre production opening in previews tonight.

"This show faces and brings up a lot of questions we deal with as a community and a society," she says. "It raises questions that are relevant to our society."

Sounds serious. But in reality, "Lysistrata" was a comedy - in fact, a new form of comedy that Aristophanes was evolving. He divided the chorus - men versus women - in the early part of the play, and that had not been done before. And he also eliminated the parabasis - a direct address to the audience - which was a standard in comedies up to that time.

And funny can give serious points impact.

Which may be why the play has been adapted, borrowed from, and staged ever since that first production.

Beowulf's artistic director, Michael Fenlason, adapted this version.

It has contemporary language but is set in ancient Greece, says Scott, who counts "Lysistrata" as one of her favorite Greek comedies. It's the story that speaks to her.

"It's one of the first stories that showcased women, and that showed women can take a position of power to enact change," she explains.

But don't expect to get hammered over the head with a message.

"It's fun and rambunctious," Scott says.

"We want people to leave thinking about the questions raised, but we want them to have a really good time, too."

If you go

• What: Beowulf Alley Theatre's production of "Lysistrata."

• By: Aristophanes, adapted by Michael Fenlason.

• Director: Nicole Scott.

• When: Preview at 6 p.m. today; regular performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, through March 24.

• Where: Tonight's preview is at the Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave. Remaining performances at Beowulf Alley, 11 S. Sixth Ave.

• Cost: Preview $10; regular performances $20, with discounts available.

• Reservations, information: beowulfalley.org or 882-0555.

• Cast: Lucille Petty, Bree Boyd-Martin, Lily Delamere, Meagan Jones, Robin Carson, Josh Parra, Armen Sarrafian, Patrick Baum, Andrew Baughman, Matt Brown and Richard Chaney.

• Run time: 1 hour, 45 minutes, with one intermission.

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at kallen@azstarnet.com or 573-4128.

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