Lysistrata at LaMama E.T.C.

Theodora Skipitares Shows Women How to Strike

By: - Feb 08, 2011

lysistrata lysistrata lysistrate

66 East 4th Street, New York
Cast: Nini Ayach, Rachel Boyadjis, Raquel Cion, Gal Friday, Honey Goodenough, Korina Gougouli, Gabriel Harrell, Daniel Irizarry, Andrew MacClarty, Antonevia Ocho Coltes, Anthony Palocci, Kiku Sakai, Rebecca Leigh Silverman, James Simmons, Minna Taylor, Hakim Williams
Author: Aristophanes
Adapted & Directed By: Theodora Skipitares
Music By: Sxip Shirey
Costumes: Lara de Bruijn
Lighting: Jesse Belsky
Puppets: Jane Catherine Shaw, Theodora Skipitares, Cecilia Schiller
Video: Kay Hines
Dramaturg: Andrea Balis
Stage Manager: Sarah Murphy & Karen Oughtred
Choreography: Angela Harriel
Producer: Skysaver Productions

A rousing production of Lysistrata adapted from Aristophanes, is playing this week at La MaMa  E.T.C.  This version of one of the earliest pieces of chick lit combines the original play with footage of womens’ sex strikes around the world, in Columbia, Kenya and England, protesting men’s violence and the escalation of war. Men learned too. They are shown demonsrating full monty in Mexico.  

Theodora Skipitares has often combined original texts with material she unearths.  In her history of medicine, she used text with the documents revealing that surgeons were allowed to cut open criminals bodies to view the live body in action.  She has also portrayed the abuse of women in the sex trade and in prison.  In Optic Sex she used shadow puppets inspired by Greek vase drawings to evoke tender and passionate sex.  

The Iraq War prompted Skipitares to look back at the Trojan War, and she created three pieces based on Euripides and Homer.  

Lysistrata’s sex strike is relatively light and tender fare for her, the theme of ‘crossing your legs’ to protest extended throughout the world in documentary footage from our times.

The puppets used in Lysistrata are designed by Skipitares, Jane Catherine Shaw, and Cecilia Schiller. Live actors manipulate the puppets’ arms, legs and bodies, and most importantly give voice to the characters. The puppets here are both life-sized mannequins and miniatures, living parasite-like on the bodies of actors.

Skiptaris undermines her puppets’ illusion.  Even though the handlers are dressed in ‘invisible’ black, we can read their expressions, their movements and of course their voices.  The puppets in miniature further destroy the puppets’ illusion.  The leading old woman and old man are actors in mask, becoming centaur-like, half human, half puppet.  Making actors into puppets themselves, with mechanical movements here blended into more human movement.  

The puppets are beautiful, and made expressive by their live manipulators.  Lysistrats’s eyes were often quite wild, as she works to get the women of Athens to join in her plan.  The women, having been cooped up in the Acropolis for five days, get as horny as the men.  Some try to escape.  We are treated to eroticism in many moods, from naïve, to erotic, to ridiculous.  The mutual yearning gives balance to the campaign.

Presumably fatal flaws to audience acceptance of illusion are the keys to success.  The reason is hard to determine,  but surely these slaps at chimeras bring us to attention, and heightened curiosity.  

Sxip Shirey sat stage right with a table full of colorful tin horns, circus music jams music into various tubes and whistles.  Evoking the sounds of an air calliope, Skirey was completely tuned to the movements of the puppet/actors.  

Ellen Stewart,  who founded and ran the La Mama for over fifty years, died last month, but wherever she is, she must have had a hoot watching this production.  It is a play for all women and intelligent men.  Caveat emptor!

Box Office/Info: 212-475-7710
Tickets On Sale Thru: February 13, 2011
Performance Schedule:
Thu at 7:30pm
Fri at 7:30pm
Sat at 7:30pm
Sun at 2:30pm