Hi's Eye article on The Lysistrata Project

[from the March 7, 2003 issue of Hi's Eye, the weekly, student-run newspaper at Westfield (NJ) High School]

The Lysistrata Project: WHS participates in global peace reading

by Holly Coleman

     WHS participated in the first ever worldwide theatrical event for peace, with a reading of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata Monday, March 3. English Teacher Mr. Peter Horn and senior Jenise Morgan organized the event, and several students and teachers volunteered to read parts of the ancient Greek, anti-war comedy. All members of the high school community were encouraged to attend the event, regardless of political viewpoint.

     The idea for the worldwide theatrical peace event originated in New York City, co-founded by actresses Sharron Bower and Kathryn Blume. To celebrate the day, many actors and directors read Lysistrata in public places. Approximately 928 plays were scheduled for reading   in 56 countries, and all of the 50 states in the United States. Many of the readings will benefit nonprofit organizations working for peace and humanitarian aid in Iraq. 

     Lysistrata tells the story of women from opposing states in Ancient Greece who come together in a desperate attempt to end the Peloponnesian war. After feeling powerless in their society and not having their standpoint against the war heard, the women decide to use the only tactic they feel is available to them—their sexuality. The women refuse to sleep with their husbands until they agree to stop the fighting.

     The play continues as a back-and-forth struggle between the women regarding their stance on the war, and between the men and women and their series of disagreements. Much of the play contains strong sexual innuendoes, adding a sense of lighthearted humor to the otherwise serious discussion of war. 

     Scheduled readings took place at WHS during periods five and six. Among those who volunteered to read Lysistrata were: Senior Raj Bhandari, Richard Brockway, ,Vivian Futran, David Eisenberg, Ali Jacob, Kate Lechner, Jenise Morgan, Kaitlyn Patella, Trevor Putnoky, and Kathleen Salmon; juniors Hannah Burke and Kim Lam; sophomores Emily Greenberg, Nick Malaspina, Katie Okamoto and Emily Sheehan; with Jacob playing the role of Lysistrata. During period eight, and open reading was held, and any student who wished to read was given the opportunity.

     Eisenberg said, “Lysistrata is an interesting play that hopefully will stimulate discussion in the school about important issues relating to war.” 

     An all-faculty reading took place during period nine. Participants included: English Department Chair Ms. Paula Roy, English Teachers Mr. Corey Walsh, Ms. Aimee Burgoyne, Mr. Marc Silbergeld, Ms. Karen Goller, Ms. Elizabeth Muller, Principal Dr. Robert Petix, Science Teacher Mr. Rudy Scipioni and Latin Teacher Mr. Donal McGay.

     “The Lysistrata Project was an academic approach to opening students’ minds to an important current issue that should be considered and discussed from various perspectives,” said Petix.

     The Lysistrata Project provided an opportunity for members of the WHS community to take a stand for their belief in peace. 

     Said McGay: “I think it’s good to expose everyone to this play. I hope reviving this ancient comedy and its universal themes about war will make everyone think about war in a new light.”

Peter Horn