Lysistrata Project protests war in Iraq

UCSD students showed support against a preemptive military strike on Iraq on March 3 by participating in the “”Lysistrata”” Project, an international theatrical event.

Assembled outside Galbraith Hall, 12 undergraduate and graduate students conducted an open reading of Aristophanes’ “”Lysistrata,”” while people in 1,029 different locations all around the world did the same.

“”We have been united by technology, which is allowing us to maintain our individuality while speaking as a community,”” said assistant organizer Ben Seibert. “”Never before have the people of the world spoken with such a collective voice. Now, more than ever, democracy works.””

UCSD is one of the five sites in San Diego where the play was read, and one of 88 sites in California. Groups in all 50 U.S. states participated in the event, as well as in 59 other countries.

Across the nation, the play was performed in theaters, schools, bars, churches, subway stations and on sidewalks. Bystanders watched while performers and citizens concerned with U.S. foreign policy read the comic play of “”Lysistrata.””

Graduate student Monica Cuoco, the lead organizer of the “”Lysistrata”” Project at UCSD, said her sentiments about the pending U.S. war in Iraq run deep.

“”Terrible things are going on that are not to be ignored,”” Cuoco said. “”There are millions of other ways to absolve our problems with Iraq, and until these ways are tried then, war shouldn’t be the way to go.””

Actors Kathryn Blume and Sharron Bower originated the “”Lysistrata”” Project in New York City. Blume and Bower said they were compelled to start the project due to the personal unease the Bush administration’s military mobilization has caused them.

As posted on Blume and Bower’s Web site, the “”purpose is to make it very clear that President [George W.] Bush does not speak for all Americans. Our message is simple: If you oppose this war, then speak up!””

Aristophanes, the original author of “”Lysistrata,”” lived during another time of war in 400 B.C. He wrote the play to express his anti-war sentiments against the war between Athens and Sparta, known as the Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata, the protagonist, encourages women from both Athens and Sparta to refrain from sex with their men until the men agree to sign a peace treaty. In the end, the women who opposed the war successfully get their men to lay down arms, and peace is made between the two warring countries.