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Published: Friday, 3/18/2005

Works by classic playwrights still fun, relevant

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
From left, Calonice (Elizabeth Clark of Bowling Green) and Lysistrata (Amanda Clements of Medina) in a scene from Bowling
Green State University s production of Lysistrata. From left, Calonice (Elizabeth Clark of Bowling Green) and Lysistrata (Amanda Clements of Medina) in a scene from Bowling Green State University s production of Lysistrata.
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Two classic playwrights are represented in works coming to the stages of area universities.

The department of theater and film at Bowling Green State University is presenting Lysistrata: A Woman's Translation, adapted by Drue Robinson Hagan from a comedy by Aristophanes that was first produced about 2,400 years ago.

"It's a lot of fun," said director Meredith Flynn, an instructor in BGSU's Chapman Learning Community. "It's also really bawdy and raunchy. The Greek culture of the time was very different from ours. They worshiped sexuality and enjoyed phallic humor."

Lysistrata is also timeless. "The head of the department was watching a rehearsal, and he just offhandedly said, 'It's amazing that we find the same things funny today that people found funny in 411 BC,'●" she said.

When Aristophanes wrote Lysistrata, the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta had been going on for about 21 years. "Aristophanes saw that if they didn't stop fighting, Greece would lose its glory, and to get his point across, he wrote this play. He wasn't seriously proposing that these methods be used, but he was serious about ending the war," Flynn said

The play concerns an Athenian woman, Lysistrata, who unites the women of the two warring factions and gets them to agree to withhold sex from their husbands until peace comes to the land. When the older women see what the younger women are doing, they decide to help, and they storm the Acropolis, take over the treasury, and refuse to fund the war.

"In ancient Greece, women had absolutely no status. They couldn't vote, couldn't own property. Their only roles were to take care of the house and bear children." No one knows whether Aristophanes had an agenda other than stopping the war, but Lysistrata was the first Greek comedy that had a female heroine and the women had power over both sex and money, Flynn said.

The production is not only composed of students, it's composed of first-timers on BGSU's stage.

Once a year, Bowling Green has a newcomer production, presented by students new to the university. Most of them are freshmen, but some are transfer students, and it gives the new students an opportunity to be cast in a play without competing with senior theater majors, Flynn said.

That cast includes Amanda Marie Clements of Medina as Lysistrata, Carrie Williams of Perrysburg as Myrrhine, and Elizabeth Clark of Bowling Green as Calonice. Also performing are Caterina Guinta, Michael Pacetti, Anthony Robinson, and Nick Wilson.

The play is most definitely rated R, Flynn emphasized, and is inappropriate for children.

"Lysistrata" is scheduled at 8 tonight, 2 and 8 p.m. tomorrow, and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Joe E. Brown Theatre in University Hall at Bowling Green State University. Tickets are $7 for adults, seniors, and students, and $5 for children 11 and younger. Information: 419-372-2719.

The 17th-century French playwright Jean-Baptiste Poquelin de Moliere comes to Ohio Northern University in the person of actor Timothy Mooney.

He presents the one-man show Moliere Than Thou at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Freed Center for the Performing Arts.

In Moliere Than Thou, Mooney plays the title character, a genius at lampooning the pretensions and hypocrisy of French society. When the playwright finds himself without a cast, thanks to some bad food at the local pub, he is desperate to avoid refunding the box-office receipts. He decides to put on a "greatest hits" show, performing routines from Tartuffe, Don Juan, The Doctor in Spite of Himself, The Misanthrope, and The School for Wives, among others.

As the hilarity ensues, Moliere takes some deft swipes at his critics as well as explains the creative process.

Mooney, who has been performing the show since about 2001, says there is no doubt Moliere is relevant today. "Every generation seems to find its own Tartuffe in whatever national scandal is going on at the moment."

A graduate of the Southern Illinois University, Mooney taught acting and stage movement at Northern Illinois University, then became artistic director of the Stage Two Theater Company in suburban Chicago, where he began adapting many of Moliere's plays for production.

"Somehow, I feel [Moliere's] sense of humor speaking to me, and it's my task to find the words to make him speak to modern audiences." Mooney said.

Mooney's adaptations were picked up by theaters across the United States and Canada and led to his creation of Moliere Than Thou, which was named best adapted work at the San Francisco Fringe Fest.

"Moliere Than Thou" is scheduled at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Freed Center for the Performing Arts at Ohio Northern University in Ada. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students. Information: 419-772-1900.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6130.



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