First Sunday in Lent, Year C
Appalling Paul?

Thoughts on Lysistrata

As part of his greeting at the start of worship this morning, Chris said, "If you're new this morning, you can probably tell by looking around the room at the massive icons hanging from our balcony that we're a bunch of neo-pagans.  Actually, I'm kidding--the props you see around the room are for a play that's being held at our church for the next several weeks.  (Pause.)  Of course, if you are a neo-pagan, we certainly welcome you here too."

It's not every church which begins the Lenten season with a disco ball and three giant-sized puppets of Greek gods hanging from the ceiling of the sanctuary, but then again, KC is not every church.  I've tried to explain this to the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company folks ever since we started talking about their using our building as the location for their winter performance this year.  Everyone I spoke to had one reaction to the possibility--they were delighted to have theater performed once again in Oliver's Carriage House.  There was a theater group here for many years (composed of people from the church and from the community) and we miss it.  The fact that the play to be performed was an adaptation of Lysistrata made not a whit of difference to anyone.

Lysistrata, as I had to explain to some of the Sunday School this morning, is a comedy about Greek women coming together and stopping the wars that raged between Greek cities by witholding sex from their husbands.  The theater folks kept asking--did I understand that the play is about sex?  Did I understand that there would be fart jokes?  Did I understand that it would include "baudy" humor?  I did--we all did--and to be honest we didn't care.

But it was with some anticipation that Dan and I went to see the show on Opening Night this past Friday along with a few other folks from our church.  There was a good crowd, but my main impression of the show was that they had missed their target audience.  They were quite clear that no one under the age of 16 would be admitted, but half way through the first act I leaned over to Dan and said, "Our kids would love this."  I am the proud mother of two middle school boys, and I thought the humor was right at their level.  You know--American Pie level.  Lots of sex-related jokes but somehow the play is never actually very sexy at all.  Just stupid.  And I'm not saying that in a bad way.  Stupid can be very very funny at times.  Especially if you're into fart jokes.

There wasn't a lot of deep meaning to this play.  Even the anti-war message at the heart of the plot was basically dismissed--the women are mostly interested in peace so that their husbands would be home and they could have sex more often.  And to be honest, the most entertaining part of the evening for Dan and me was eavesdropping on the exceedingly awkward first date that was taking place next to us.  The show was a really bad choice for this date--both parties were extremely embarrassed to be there.  At intermission, after a long silence, the guy said to his date, "Well they have some good choreography...."  She managed a weak smile in response.

But there was an aspect of the show that I really liked.  There was a group of maybe 10 women who were the core members of the cast, portraying Greek women from various cities.  They had excellent costumes--short, sexy, playful dresses in different colors, all with a kind of gauzy drape that was a bit reminiscent of a toga.  Each dress was different, and each played up the strengths of the woman who wore it--cleavage, shoulders, legs, backs, whatever they had, they flaunted.  I first saw this as a tribute to the costume designer, but the more I thought about it, the more I appreciated the way in which ten different women with ten different body types all looked great in the show.  And they all stood there and acted in a way that showed you they knew they looked great.

Despite the utter stupidity of this play, these women got a message across:  women can be confident in their bodies, all sorts of bodies, assured that they are beautiful, sensual, powerful.  I can say amen to that.

Comments

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Chris Beyer

"...but then again, KC is not every church"

Amen. Not even close. After listening to our visitor's sharing during the service I realized that I now have a new answer to give folks who ask me what kind of church KC is and why I attend: "It's the kind of place where a stranger can feel comfortable enough to say 'crap' during a service and no one is shocked or offended."

Sorry, I missed the play, but I thought Lysistrata was something to be avoided, usually by cooking to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Ian

Thanks Heather for your description of the play. At CSC, we give tremendous value to "stupid" and thanks for understanding that stupid is not always bad. It was also very important to the production that the group of Greek women be unique and wonderful in completely wonderful ways from each other. Thank you for sharing that observation- and you're so right, the play's not very sexy at all- who would have thought it?

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