LYSISTRATA--The Front Row Center by Grace Merriman

LYSISTRATA

Posted By Ann Firestone Ungar on Dec 22, 2015

[Rated: 4 STARS]

Review by Ann Firestone Ungar

The Greek playwright Aristophanes was rad 2,426 years ago when he wrote the startling, serious sexual satire Lysistrata.  Its story and characters stand today as a monument of anti-war literature of the highest value and quality, recently revived in New York City as the maiden voyage production of a theater company called Equal Truth Productions.  I congratulate this engaging troupe of skilled actors and their director, Julie Lucas, and wish them well with their next production.  Lysistrata closed as I type this review, and I regret that I could not see and praise it earlier in its short run.

Stay with me, gentle reader.  You need to know what Lysistrata is about, and I have a bit of a surprise ending here for you, with your work assignment.

Lysistrata takes place in ancient Athens.  Athens is at war with Sparta.  The men from both cities have been absent from their homes for long periods of time, and domestic life has suffered tremendously, as it does in all wars.  An Athenian woman named Lysistrata (Grace Merriman) comes up with an extraordinary idea to bring the parties to the peace table.  This she offers to both the women of Athens and Sparta: when your men come home on leave, deny them sex.  Deny them and deny them and promise that that situation will continue until they negotiate a settlement.

At first the women balk at this as impossible. They themselves want and need their conjugal relationships, but Lysistrata is persistent.  Finally all swear an oath to follow her plan.  They take over the Acropolis where the wealth of Athens is stored.  Without gold, there can be no war.  The men immediately react with reasoned arguments, then with belligerence as they try to smoke or burn the women out.  They use all manner of persuasive techniques as they themselves battle with larger and larger painful (and painfully funny) erections.  The women resist, making fun of a magistrate, seducing but denying a desperate husband, threatening fist fights and finally bringing the Athenian and Spartan men to the peace table.  The men agree, “We cannot live with you; we cannot live without you.”  They want “a peace with the whole of Greece.”  The joke here is, as it falls on the audience’s ear, they want “a piece with the hole of Greece.”

The play ends with each warring side taking territory from the other.  The people dance and sing together in thanksgiving to flute music, and at least for a while Lysistrata, “bravest of all women,” has performed a miracle.  She hopes, “we don’t repeat our errors ever.”

Fun in service of reining in bloodshed: this is a worthy piece of drama.  I wondered as I listened to the lucid and witty language (translation by Alan H. Sommerstein) and enjoyed the well-constructed plot if Shakespeare had access to a translation of this play.  Time doesn’t permit me to research this, but it seems to me that Aristophanes, Shakespeare and Molière were cut from the same fine piece cloth.

A nod to theater’s sister art: the movies.  Chi-Raq, a Spike Lee film currently on the screen, is based on Lysistrata.  It expands the story from a sex strike by Chicago’s Southside women to bring their warring gang men to the peace table.  The plot explores the demise of a man known as Chi-Raq, a tragic figure in this torn community.  Chi-Raq is a polemic, a necessary and sympathetic plea for peaceful measures in Chicago and worldwide to quell the violence which is gutting civilization.  It’s a film we need to see and it’s well made, though it could do with some editing for length considerations.

So Lysistrata’s in the air.  It’s good to breathe it in thousands of years after its first performance.  Thank you, Aristophanes.

LYSISTRATA – written by Aristophanes and directed by Julie Lucas

WITH: Marissa Carpio (Stratyllis/Lampito), Lida Darmian (Myrrhine), Adam Donovan (Spartan/Herald/Manes/Policeman), Toussaint JeanLouis (Cinesias/Chorus/Athenian), Liz Leimkuhler (Chorus/Ismenia), Grace Merriman (Lysistrata), Kisha Milling (Calonice), Michael Ring (Male Chorus Leader), Jorge Sanchez (Magistrate, Athenian), Thanos Skouteris (Chorus), Michelle Vo (Chorus/Corinthian Woman)

Audry Bodek (Designer), Rebecca Werner (Stage Manager), Rachel Bryan (Costumes & Props Assistant), Grace Merriman and Sarah Wells (Producers), Zach Terry (Photographer), presented by Equal Truth Productions.  This production ran from December 17-20, 2015 at the 13th Street Repertory Theatre, 50 West 13th Street, New York, NY.  Information: equaltruthproductions.com; email to info@equaltruthproductions.com

Tickets to Equal Truth Productions' LYSISTRATA Now on Sale by Grace Merriman

Tickets to Equal Truth Productions' LYSISTRATA Now on Sale

November 30, 2015

2:17 PM

👤by BWW News Desk

TICKETS for Equal Truth Productions' LYSISTRATA are now on sale through the company's website: www.equaltruthproductions.com.

Performances are December 17, 18, 19 & 20 at 8:00 PM at the 13th Street Repertory Theatre (50 West 13th Street, NYC).

Sick and tired of the constant war in their country, Lysistrata and the women of Greece devise a sneaky, subversive plot: a sex-strike only to end upon the signing of a peace treaty. But during their protest, they are challenged by hot and heavy resistance. Can they abstain in the name of peace?

Directed by Julie Lucas, the cast includes: Marissa Carpio, Lida Darmian, Adam Donovan, Toussaint JeanLouis, Liz Leimkuhler, Grace Merriman, Kisha MillingMichael Ring, Jorge I. Sanchéz, Thanos Skouteris, and Michelle Vo.

Equal Truth Productions was founded by recent NYU Tisch Drama graduate, Grace Merriman, "on the belief that every human being has a unique truth of their own that is worth sharing, and that no one's truth has more value than anyone else's."

Tickets to LYSISTRATA can also be purchased through https://www.artful.ly/store/events/7608 ; for group sales email info@equaltruthproductions.com

Find out more about Equal Truth Productions by following them on Facebook at: http://facebook.com/equaltruthproductions.


Equal Truth Productions Launches in NYC by Grace Merriman

Posted on BroadwayWorld.com:

Equal Truth Productions Launches in NYC

October 26, 2015; 11:32 AM

👤by BWW News Desk

"EQUAL Truth Productions is a theater company founded on the belief that every human being has a unique truth of their own that is worth sharing, and that no one's truth has more value than anyone else's." Thus rings the mission of this brand new theater company run by a small group of artists with big goals.

Founded by Grace Merriman, a recent graduate of the NYU Tisch Drama program, Equal Truth Productions is a passion project born out of what can only be described as a deep rooted need for change.

"I started this company, because I got tired of the pervasive white-washing of the American stage, and I wanted to do something about it. I believe theater should represent the wonderful diversity of the United States of America, and of the World," said Grace Merriman

Their mission also states, "We are dedicated to representing the voices of artists from every race, gender, creed and sexual orientation or identity, and to finding stories that highlight the voices of the unheard, the unheeded, and the under-represented.

"It is our primary goal to create a space in which to foster the creative talent of people and groups whose stories are often overlooked. At Equal Truth we celebrate diversity as well as the individuality of our respective, personal, human experiences."

Their very first show is going to be a production of 'LYSISTRATA' directed by Julie Lucas at 13th Street Repertory Theatre in New York City's Greenwich Village, December 17-20, 2015.

The cast includes: Marissa Carpio, Lida Darmian, Adam Donovan, Toussaint JeanLouis, Liz Leimkuhler, Grace Merriman, Kisha MillingMichael Ring, Jorge I. Sanchéz, Thanos Skouteris, and Michelle Vo.

Find out more about Equal Truth Productions by following them on Facebook at: http://facebook.com/equaltruthproductions.

If you'd like to contribute to Equal Truth Productions you can make a donation to their indiegogo campaign: https://goo.gl/uhO6Y5.