February 17, 2003
Literature professor links Santa Cruz to international
theater event for peace
By Scott Rappaport
On March 3, Santa Cruz will join hundreds of cities around the world
in hosting a staged reading of Aristophanes ancient Greek antiwar
|The ancient Greek play Lysistrata
tells the story of women from opposing states who come together
to end a war by refusing to sleep with their husbands.
The local play reading is part of the international Lysistrata Project,
the first-ever worldwide theater event for peace. As of mid-February,
380 readings have been scheduled in 31 countries to protest against
a possible war with Iraq.
The Santa Cruz reading will take place on Monday, March 3, at 7 p.m.
at the Louden Nelson Center, 301 Center Street, in downtown Santa Cruz.
The local event is being organized by UCSC assistant professor of literature
Jody Greene. Admission is free.
"I heard about it on NPR and I decided I wanted to do it here,"
Greene explained. "Theyre doing it in Iceland, Tel Aviv,
Athens, Juneau, Alaska--theyre doing it all over the world. Theyre
even having simultaneous readings on the web."
The ancient Greek play tells the story of women from opposing states
who come together to end a war by refusing to sleep with their husbands.
Desperate for intimacy, the men eventually agree to lay down their swords
and achieve peace through diplomacy.
The cast of 22 at the Santa Cruz reading will include six UCSC faculty:
Deanna Shemek, associate professor of Italian and comparative literature,
Rob Wilson, professor of literature, Jennifer Gonzalez, assistant professor
of art history, Farnaz Fatemi, lecturer in writing, Carla Freccero,
professor of literature, and K. Silem Mohammed, visiting assistant professor
of literature. It will also feature graduate students and undergraduates
from Greenes UCSC class Reading the Traditional Canon,
as well as a local high school student in the title role.
"We are putting on the play not to advocate a sex strike, but
to suggest that we need to get more creative in response to the threat
of going to war," Greene said. "Really, its a call for
creativity. Because marching through the streets with placards is not
working. Its a playful way to get people thinking of how to communicate
their vision of a better future."
"Its also about using alliances--really unlikely alliances--and
getting together groups that dont usually align together to protest,
such as isolationists and people on the left," Greene added. "Thats
The Lysistrata Project was founded by New York actors Kathryn Blume
and Sharron Bower, who originally e-mailed their friends and put up
a web site to voice opposition to a war in Iraq. The response was enormous
and soon evolved into an international grassroots peace movement, uniting
theater artists throughout the world.
In addition to readings in cities such as London, Paris, Beirut, Berlin,
and Jerusalem, groups from nearly every state in the United States are
planning events in this groundbreaking, worldwide theatrical act of
dissent. In New York City alone, dozens of teams of actors and directors
will stage readings in public spaces throughout the day, culminating
in an evening reading by an all-star cast. Greene noted that San Francisco
also has six different readings scheduled to take place throughout the
At the Santa Cruz reading, the audience will be given the opportunity
to donate funds to benefit the School for Peace in the small Israeli
village of Neve Shalom/Wahat Al Salam. Located halfway between Tel Aviv
and Jerusalem, the village is a place where Israeli Palestinians and
Jews have chosen to live together as an integrated binational and bilingual
Additional information about the Lysistrata Project is available on
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