Wearing winter coats and hats, University students and Royal Shakespeare Company members collaborated yesterday on staged readings of Aristophanes’s play “Lysistrata.” The readings also served as an anti-war protest, demonstrating support against a potential preemptive U.S. strike against Iraq.

Shabina Khatri
Theater artists from the Lysistrata Project use their creative talents to voice opposition to a war against Iraq. Members of the Royal Shakespeare Company also participated in the event yesterday.

The campus reading was in conjunction with the Lysistrata Project, a national organization that sponsored more than 1,000 staged readings in 59 countries yesterday. The project’s main goal is to stop the war against Iraq.

“Lysistrata,” written by Aristophanes in circa 411 B.C., tells the story of a woman who encourages the other women of Greece to deny their husbands sex in order to cease fighting in the Peloponnesian War. Kathryn Blume, an actress and co-founder of the Lysistrata Project, said she appreciated the humor and peaceful message of the play.

Inspired by the protest group Theaters Against War, Blume and another actress, Sharron Bower, founded the Lysistrata Project in January. Word spread and the project grew into a global movement.

“I’d been watching global developments (towards the war) with trepidation,” Blume said.

“Our other main goal has already been achieved – showing that Bush doesn’t speak for all Americans,” she added. “We’re incredibly excited. It’s so humbling and gratifying to see how people have embraced the project and made it their own.”

Mark Greene, spokesman for the Lysistrata Project said the group’s message is clear. “We are opposed to a preemptive unilateral attack by the U.S.,” Greene said. In addition to performances, many groups are raising money for charities, such as Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders.

LSA senior Corey Triplett and his recently-formed student theater group, Makeshift Theatre Troupe, organized the event, which was performed on the steps of the Michigan Union, in the Diag and outside the Media Union.

Despite the freezing weather, about 10 University students and seven Royal Shakespeare Company actors participated.

Triplett said he organized the event to take part in the global demonstration. “It combines two things I love – theater and activism,” he said.

“We’re getting information out about the anti-war movement that keeps growing across the country.” Triplett added that despite its age, the play’s message is relevant. “Nonviolence and anti-war movements have been an issue since B.C.,” he said.

Members of the Royal Shakespeare Company expressed their enthusiasm at participating in the project.

Kieron Jecchinis, an actor with the company, said the actors were participating because they think the war against Iraq is wrong.

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