Two Planks and a Passion Theatre perform Lysistrata at Ross Creek Centre for the Arts

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Ross Creek Centre for the Arts on North Mountain near Canning, Nova Scotia, with its bucolic field surrounded by rustling grasses and croaking frog ponds, provides the timeless setting for Two Planks and a Passion Theatre’s stunning outdoor  performance of Lysistrata, July 14 to August 11. http;//www.twoplanks.ca  Director Ken Swartz’s adaptation of Aristophanes’ classic comedy of women’s non-violent protest for peace during the Peloponnesian war in 460 BC to the American Civil War, amplified with music and lyrics by Allen Cole, takes on elements of farce. The cast of fierce women, costumed in corsets and hooped skirts, led by Lysistrata played by Burgandy Cole, steadily prove themselves as peace warriors against their soldier husbands and lovers.  High praise for everything about this performance, which I saw on July 20, 2012 — the step-perfect tight performances by every member of the cast, the hilarious lyrics, the costume switches from the drawing room to the bunker hay bale barriers — and of course, the idyllic sunny sky as dusk approached.

The programme notes entitled Why Lysistrata? underscore the relevance and resonance of Aristophanes writing for today’s women’s movement.  He knew 2500 years ago that “laughter is a powerful weapon [for social justice] in the right hands.  Women’s protests for peace and social justice since the original Lysistrata mirror her “ingenious plan of [a sex strike] that requires no army, money or power in the traditional sense. She only needs solidarity.”   The program notes cite exemplars through women’s history, beginning with the American Civil War, represented in Margaret Mitchell’s (1935) novel, Gone with the Wind; in 2003, the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, organized by social worker Leymah Gbowee, complete with singing, praying and silent protests that included a sex strike, brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War. (Gbowee won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011); and the Occupy movement that swept cities around the western world in 2011 also features artful, non-violent protest.

So many more exemplars of art for peace and social justice from early generations of modern women’s history could be added — suffragettes and abolitionists and temperance activists, to name just a few.

Submitted by Dorothy Lander

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~ by artpoped on July 26, 2012.

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