The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Saturday, March 01, 2003  

Reading -- and Taking Action -- for Peace

The Lysistrata Project is a nonprofit organization seeking political, economic, and social rights and justice for women around the world. Distracted, as we all are, by the Bush administration's mindless campaign for war and destruction everywhere, the Lysistrata Project's long-term agenda temporarily has taken a back seat to opposition to the impending, and apparently unstoppable, war upon Iraq.

As part of the group's contribution to the anti-war effort, the Lysistrata Project is sponsoring a worldwide reading of the Aristophanes masterpiece Lysistrata on Monday, March 3: At last count 919 readings are scheduled in 56 countries.

Although written and first performed more than 2,000 years ago, Lysistrata is a unique and timeless classic work that speaks with force to the current age. In this ancient Greek comedy, women from opposing states unite in an effort to end the Peloponnesian War by withholding intimate relations from their husbands. Eventually, unable to endure the, uh, cold shoulder any longer, the warriors on all sides put down their weapons and launch a diplomatic resolution to the conflict.

Never heard of it? Never read it? Don't feel bad. But you're an adult now, and this is one of the great works of world literature that you've been promising yourself for the last 10, 20, or 30 years that you would eventually catch up on.

So get with the program!

Too lazy to read Lysistrata? Then go out on Monday and have it read to you.

Among the Project's highest-profile readings is that which will take place at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theatre (651 Fulton St., Brooklyn, N.Y.) beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Monday evening. Readers include F. Murray Abraham, Kevin Bacon, Kathleen Chalfant, Kathryn Grody, Delphi Harrington, Bill Irwin, Mercedes Ruehl, Kyra Sedgwick, Lori Singer, and David Strathairn. (Admission is free, but the Project has suggested a $20 donation. Tickets will be distributed on a first come/first served basis. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. The New York reading, like money others, is collecting funds for humanitarian and relief organizations.)

Readings in the Philadelphia area will be held at: HUB South, 1914 S. 7th St.; The Theatre at 2111 Sansom Street, 2111 Sansom St.; the Hermitage Mansion, 700 Hermit Lane; the University of the Sciences, 43rd St. and Woodland Ave.; the Lusty Cup Café, Canaday Library, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pa.; and at Upper Tarble, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa.

To find a reading in a city near you, click here

I'm hoping anti-war bloggers will find their own ways to participate in this unique event. Perhaps anti-war bloggers who cannot join or attend a reading of Lysistrata could find time between now and Monday to read the play and select an excerpt or two to republish on their sites that day.

Due to a series of previous obligations, it is unlikely I will be able to attend any of the readings planned for the Philadelphia area. However, during the downtime at midday that characterizes my regular work schedule, I will be reading Lysistrata here, in my humble abode, out loud, to myself and to Mildred (assuming she's awake).

Does that sound strange to you? Really?

I don't care. Waging a senseless and unjustifiable war upon the people of Iraq and launching the 21st Century Crusades both sound far more bizarre to me. I'd rather talk to myself and my dog for a few hours than read endless lists of the names of the latest dead Americans, Britons, Australians, and Iraqis.

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