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IU Theatre to stage adaptation of 'Lysistrata,' host related events

Indiana University Theatre's 2011-12 season continues with Lysistrata. Adapted by playwright Ellen McLaughlin, the play opens Friday, Dec. 2, in the Wells-Metz Theatre.

Ellen McLaughlin

Ellen McLaughlin

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The Department of Theatre and Drama will also host several events inspired by the production and Themester 2011, "Making War, Making Peace," including a Q&A with the playwright and an academic symposium.

Lysistrata, originally written by the Greek comic poet Aristophanes, is a bold and bawdy story with a simple yet powerful premise: women seeking to end a war by withholding sex from their husbands. While the original was penned in 411 BC during the Peloponnesian War, McLaughlin's adaptation was written as part of The Lysistrata Project, which protested American aggression toward Iraq just prior to the March 2003 invasion.

Director Fontaine Syer believes the serious issues at the heart of the play exist in harmony with the racy humor that has made it so popular for centuries, and said McLaughlin's adaptation is accessible to modern audiences while maintaining the integrity of the original play.

"This play has what all great comedies have: a deep and important need that lives beneath the surface," Syer said. "I don't want to say it's going to be really funny, but it's going to be really funny."


Lysistrata (third-year M.F.A. acting student Kristl Densley) ponders the pregnancy of Calonice (junior Nicole Bruce) in the upcoming IU Theatre production of "Lysistrata."

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As her thesis project for her M.F.A. in acting, Kristl Densley will play the title role of Lysistrata, the woman leading the plot to end Athens' longstanding war with Sparta.

Joining Densley in the cast of Lysistrata are Amy Leigh Abelson (Fisherwoman); freshman Maddie Shea Baldwin (Myrrhine); junior Nicole Bruce (Calonice); sophomore Leslie Ann Boyden (Old Woman 1); freshman Sadie Dainko (Woman of Greece); senior Jacque Donahue (Old Woman); senior Katherine Duffy (Woman of Greece); junior Jowi Estava (Ismenia); first year M.F.A. actor Evelyn Gaynor (Chorus Leader); junior Rachel Goldman (Old Woman); sophomore Satsu Holmes (Woman of Greece); senior Kyle Kaminsky (Spartan Delegate); sophomore Matt J. Keeley (Geezer); junior Gabi Knoepfle (Dipsas); junior Jessye Grace Mueller (Belfragia); sophomore Grant Alexander Niezgodski (Spartan Envoy); senior Shanta Parasuraman (Lampito/Circus); freshman Nathan Robbins (Cinesias); senior Hana Slevin (Chorus Leader); third-year Ph.D. candidate Joe Stollenwerk (Magistrate); and senior Elijah Willis (Geezer/Circus).

Syer's creative team includes associate professor of scenic design Fred M. Duer; first-year M.F.A. student Barbara Harvey Abbott as costume designer; first-year M.F.A. student Derek Jones as lighting designer; junior Kevin Carson as sound designer; first-year M.F.A. student Paul Daily as assistant director; and first-year M.F.A. student John Houtler as technical director.

Playwright Ellen McLaughlin
McLaughlin's original plays and adaptations include Days and Nights Within, A Narrow Bed, Infinity's House, Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Tongue of a Bird, The Trojan Women, Helen, The Persians, Oedipus, Penelope, Kissing the Floor and Ajax in Iraq. Her works have been produced at numerous theaters, both nationally and internationally, including Actor's Theatre of Louisville; The Intiman Theatre, Seattle; Almeida Theatre, London; The Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles; the Public Theatre, New York; A.R.T., Cambridge, Mass.; and The Guthrie Theatre, Minn. Her acting career has included work in major theaters both on and off Broadway, as well as regionally.
She originated the role of the Angel in Tony Kushner's Angels in America, and appeared on television's Law and Order. Her most recent publication is The Greek Plays, a collection of her adaptations and interpretations of Greek drama.

Themester 2011 events
Several events will be held around Indiana University Theatre's production of Lysistrata as part of Themester 2011, "Making War, Making Peace."

  • Playwright Ellen McLaughlin will speak about her adaptation work at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec 1, in the Studio Theatre at the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center. The talk is free and open to the public. She will also take part in a Q&A following the Friday, Dec. 2, performance.
  • The IU Department of Theatre and Drama will host "War Making Bodies," a graduate symposium on theater and performance studies, on Dec. 9 and 10. The event will feature academic paper presentations, demonstrations and short plays relating to the effects of war on the human body and the way those bodies are then represented in culture. For more information about the symposium, visit

If you go
Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for students and $20 for senior citizens. Student rush tickets are $10 cash with a valid IU Bloomington student ID on the day of each performance. Call 812-855-1103 or visit to purchase tickets online.