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​Greek theater packing a punch

Theatre | April 22nd, 2015

Courtesy of NDSU Performing Arts

Theatre NDSU brings new flair to comedy ‘Lysistrata’

Dancing, dirty jokes, pop culture references and a party.

This is the recipe for Theatre NDSU’s season closer “Lysistrata,” taking off Thursday through May 2, and giving a modern update to satirist Aristophanes’ 2,500-year-old Greek comedy. With a recent translation contemporizing the text, director Chelsea Pace found her own inspiration from the playwright to further adapt this show for NDSU’s stage.

“It’s still very much ‘Lysistrata,’” she said, “but it’s been updated in the sense that the costumes look like something you might find at a music festival or a Beyoncéconcert, and the music sounds like it’s from those same places as well.”

A sex strike by women against men in the Peloponnesian War leads to the end of the fighting, as the sex-starved males come to their senses.

The original “Lysistrata,” Pace said, concerns war, peace and relationships among men and women.

And that’s not what she wanted to do.

“That’s really heteronormative. That’s really gender-binary. It’s not the world we live in anymore,” Pace said. “What we’re doing instead is we’re taking gender-mixed ensembles and putting them up against each other. It stops being about men versus women and starts being about people versus people.”

With a “huge” cast – 27 students and six community members – ‘Lysistrata’ is ensemble-powered and charged with wild choreography and flashy designs.

From set design to sound design, lighting to costumes and hair and makeup, “Lysistrata” is a piñata of “spectacular” colors, lights and visuals.

“Visually, it’s really striking,” Pace said, adding after a thought, “Yeah. You notice it.”

Hip hop-inspired music gives ground for the rocking choreography, which pulses throughout the show. A 10 p.m. dance party in the Reineke Fine Art Center’s Challey Atrium will follow the opening night performance, and regular Q&A sessions will follow each performance, but these are not talkbacks, Pace said.

“It’s really, really informal … Meet the cast and poke at their costumes.”

Alongside the show’s wild designs and interactions, the updated text has allowed Pace and others to have fun with the 2,500-year-old lines – “finding the bits,” as she said, or finding ways to make “Lysistrata” funny again.

This new take throws out all notions of Greek plays being dry and long – Theatre NDSU’s production is 75 minutes – and wraps up “Lysistrata” in colors, choreography, laughter and lighting.

“It’s a piece of Greek theater, but it’s not going to be what you expect,” Pace said. “At all.”

IF YOU GO

“Lysistrata” 

7:30 p.m. April 23-25, April 29-May 2 

NDSU’s Askanase Auditorium

701-231-7969 

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