On March 3, readings of the classic play will be held in every state in America, as well as at multiple locations in 59 countries. All told, more than 1,000 readings will take place. In New York City alone, there are dozens of scheduled gatherings.
The most high profile event will occur at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where, at 7 PM, F. Murray Abraham, Mercedes Ruehl, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, David Strathairn and Kathleen Chalfant are to read the Greek comedy (doors open at 5 PM).
On the west coast, meanwhile, Julie Christie, Alfre Woodard, Christine Lahti, Mary McDonnell, Eric Stoltz and Roscoe Lee Browne will appear in a reading at The Los Angeles Filmmaker Cooperative's Powerhouse Cultural Space.
The world-wide event was the brainchild of Sharron Bower and Kathryn Blume, two young New York-based actresses. The idea was hatched two months ago and, after the creation of a website, soon grew beyond all their expectations.
Lysistrata concerns the title character's plan to bind all the wives of Athens and Sparta in a sex strike in order to force their warring husbands to lay down their arms and come home. The play has been produced throughout the years as a satirical response to the war-mongering factions of society. In London, hundreds of members of the British theatre community met in Parliament Square in the early hours of March 3 "to form a massed Greek Chorus of Disapproval." The chorus, which read a passage from the play, including such people as Caryl Churchill, Alan Rickman, David Hare, Janie Dee, Ian Rickson, Lindsay Duncan, Vanessa Redgrave, and the cast of the Donmar Warehouse's production of Accidental Death of An Anarchist.
The organization's official stance on Iraq read as follows: "Though Lysistrata Project represents many individuals with a range of opinions, we all oppose a unilateral, preemptive attack on Iraq by the United States. We support the continued work of United Nations weapons inspectors."
For information of Lysistrata readings, consult www.lysistrataproject.com.