A Greek classic about a sex strike, recast and reconsidered in the age of #metoo

David daCosta, Natalia Gracious, Catriona Leger and David Warburton are able to unleash their interpretation of a Greek classic.

Odyssey Theatre / OTTwp

Odyssey Theatre presents:

Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia

Written and directed by David S. Craig

Theatre Under the Stars

When & the place: eight p.m. nightly July 26-Aug. 26, Strathcona Park (no performances Mondays. 2 p.m. matinee on Sundays).

Tickets: Adults $27, college students and seniors, $25, kids beneath 12, $11, at eventbrite.ca. Two-for-one tickets on opening weekend, July 27-29. Fees further.


When Odyssey Theatre’s inventive director, Laurie Steven, despatched a choice of scripts to playwright David S. Craig a few years in the past, the one which grabbed him was Aristophanes’ Lysistrata.

That’s the Greek comedy about ladies who withhold sex in order to pressure the males to cease waging warfare.

Although he discovered the 2,500-year-old story dated, Craig recalled performing it as a teenager and cherished the “wonderful” dramatic trope of a sex strike. But, he puzzled, what would possibly immediate ladies nowadays to make use of the identical persuasive tactic?

“The only thing I could think of is they might go on a sex strike to save Mother Earth,” Craig mentioned in an interview. “But I didn’t have a clear and present danger the way that Aristophanes did so I had to contrive one.”

He determined to set the play 100 years in the future, envisioning a world rocked by local weather change. “The temperature changes hugely hour by hour. Violent storms crop up. The world is much more dangerous because of climate refugees. Everybody wears masks to purify the air,” Craig explains, setting the scene for a play that will likely be carried out outdoor throughout one of Ottawa’s hottest summers at a time when Ontario’s newly elected authorities has determined to tug out of cap and commerce.

The veteran playwright was on a roll together with his thought, and thought he’d be completed in a few months. Then the #MeToo motion started to snowball, and the ladies concerned in the manufacturing weren’t shy about criticizing his feminine characters. In truth, Steven despatched him again to the drafting board.

“I went back and took a look and realized, oh my God, the female characters were in reaction to the male characters,” Craig says. “The male characters were undertaking change, and the female characters were acting in response to that change. It was a very humbling moment for me to realize I had fallen into a stereotype.”

Steven, by the manner, has been investigating feminine archetypes in common tradition, because of a grant from the Ontario Arts Council’s Chalmers Arts Fellowship. Her analysis helped form the questions she posed to Craig about his feminine characters. She says there’s all the time artistic rigidity when a author units out to modernize a classic.

“You want to bring your modern perspective to it but you want to respect the classic,” she mentioned. “I tried to encourage him to go with his own voice, and say what he wanted in the contemporary world, and let the classic inspire him. The more contemporary he got, the more my role was to get him to challenge those contemporary archetypes against the reality of women in the world today.”

The entire course of made Craig look at his personal privilege.

“I’m 66,” he says, “and when I was a young hippie, we were going to solve this equality thing. That was easy. The sisters were going to be the same as the brothers. Bang. But when Jian Ghomeshi hit the scene, and people started coming forward and saying that kind of harassment is business as usual, I was really horrified. The women around my dinner table were not telling me that. I’m super cautious now. I don’t assume I know how things go. I’m checking in a lot more than I ever did.”

Steven, who based Odyssey Theatre 33 years in the past and has remained inventive director, mentioned Craig is a pleasure to work with (he additionally directed Odyssey’s award-winning 2012 manufacturing, The Fan), and it’s all the time a supply of satisfaction when the firm unveils an authentic piece of theatre, which is what their adaptation of Lysistrata has changed into.

“What I find exciting about the play is it makes a very strong point about the environment, and at the same time you laugh all the way through. The other thing David has created is a unique style of work, which is part cabaret, part farce and mixes the ancient and the modern world. It took quite a while to pull all those elements into a cohesive insanity. I think that makes it really unique,” she says. 

It’s additionally a great distance from its historical Greek origins, provides Craig.

“I thought I was writing a satire on humanity’s reaction to climate change, which is to say we’re not doing much of anything. But in fact it’s about men and women. I think the pushback has resulted in a much richer play, a play with much more integrity.”

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