March to Lysistrata

If you've got a problem with America's impending war with Iraq, speak up or quit your bitching. On the weekend of February 15, 750,000 people took to the streets in London, 500,000 made their voices heard in New York, and 150,000 marched in San Francisco. But in Houston, the fourth-largest city in the nation, only 3,000 people turned out for the protest. Even Dallas had 3,500!

Yes, it was a piss-poor showing. But thanks to Theatre New West, Houstonians have another chance to show their support for the antiwar movement. The theater is taking part in a worldwide peace event called The Lysistrata Project. As of press time, 605 readings of the Greek antiwar play Lysistrata, by Aristophanes, have been planned in 37 countries and all 50 states. The readings will take place on Monday, March 3.

"Everybody involved…believes in the project and its intent as far as opposition to the war," says Joe Watts, Theatre New West's director. Eighteen readers have volunteered for the performance, three without any acting experience. "Since it's a staged reading," says Watts, "I think they'll do beautifully."

The play may be 2,500 years old, but it should entertain modern audiences. Lysistrata is the story of two groups of women whose menfolk have gone to war. Sick of the dying and the misery, women from opposing sides get together to figure out how to stop the carnage. They decide to make use of their most powerful weapon: sex. That's right -- the women refuse to give it up until the men put down their swords.

At one point in the script, the wives tie up their husbands and strip them naked. "Obviously we won't be doing all that," says Watts. "But even though the play does deal with a very serious issue, it's absolutely hysterical as hell."

If enough people attend, Watts says, the theater may do a second show. Come on, Houston. Don't let Dallas show us up again.

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Cathy Matusow
Contact: Cathy Matusow