The Jagriti Season 2011-12 opens tonight with the English play Lysistrata. Directed by British director Jeff Teare, this sex comedy shows how a woman solves a never-ending fight
What would men do and not do for sex? Back in 411 BC, the Greek playwright Aristophanes tried to find the answer in his famed play Lysistrata that chronicles how The Peloponnesian War was won not by swords but by an intelligent woman.
Jeff Teare in a workshop
Years later, British director Jeff Teare finds the play as relevant in today's time and space as it was centuries ago. Thus when the performing art space Jagriti asked Teare to direct the opening play Lysistrata for Jagriti Season 2011-12, he could not refuse.
However, Teare realised that he had to present Lysistra in a different way. "I realised I had to adapt it for a modern audience. The original is long, wordy and full of historical Greek references which mean little today," shares Teare.
He adds that his version of the classic play is set in contemporary Bangalore and uses modern cultural references. The original plot of Lysistrata revolves around a time when the war between Athens and Sparta was dragging for too long.
A still from the play
Young men were leaving behind families to fight the battle and many of them never returned. Lysistrata was one such woman, whose husband was away at the battlefield. To make him and other warlords return home, she devices a plan and requests her sisters to declare a sex strike.
The women declare that they will abstain from intercourse with their husbands till peace is declared. "I would describe the play as a serious comedy about war, sex and the war of the sexes.
It asks questions like 'Why is war fought?' and 'how can it be stopped?' in the context of a sex comedy. However the essential situation of a 20- year war between Athens and Sparta is retained, though our Athens and Sparta are hardly in Greece," he reveals.
According to Teare, this version of Lysistrata explores the role of women with reference to the recent developments in the Arab countries. The play features Indian actors who have been intensively trained in voice modulation, western acting methods and aesthetics.
Also, Teare shares that the most important design element in this production are the 'designer versions of modern street/party clothes'. Apart, from a bare black stage, Teare says that there is nothing much in terms of set design.
There are nine masked and nine unmasked characters along with a drummer. Revealing what he expects from the audience on the opening day, Teare says, "This is my tenth visit to Bangalore and I have always enjoyed working here. I sincerely hope the Jagriti crowd enjoys the show. After all, it's meant to be about them."
Where Jagriti Theatre, Ramagondanahalli, Varthur Road,
On till December 18
For Rs 300