“In the name of Cyprus, repeat solemnly: / No husband, no lover, no nookie for me.” So swear the women of Athens near the beginning of Drue Robinson Hagan’s new translation of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, as they vow to withhold sex until their men put an end to the Peloponnesian War. “My shapely legs I will keep shut tight,” they continue. “And though he’ll try splitting them night after night / I’ll not give in when he starts to pant / Nothing but nothing will I to him grant.”

“It’s a supersaucy play,” says Greasy Joan & Company member Tanera Marshall. “And this translation is particularly contemporary and bawdy….What I like about it is that it’s a rhyming verse version. It’s sort of Seussical. And funny.”

On Monday, March 3, Greasy Joan will be one of over 750 groups in 43 countries staging readings of the play as part of “The Lysistrata Project: A Theatrical Act of Dissent.” Initiated by New York actors Kathryn Blume and Sharron Bower early this year, it was originally intended as a local undertaking, but the idea spread quickly through the international theater community.

“I first heard about it through the E-mail grapevine,” says Marshall, who coordinated the Greasy Joan event. “There were, at the time, two cities hosting readings–New York and San Francisco. And I thought, Well, Chicago certainly should get involved.” Marshall didn’t have the time to take on all the administrative footwork, but after Laura Scott Wade, an actor with the European Repertory Company, stepped up as the citywide organizer, Marshall jumped on board, enlisting noted local actress Hollis Resnik to play the title role.

Chicago now has 19 readings scheduled–more than any other city. Some groups are using Robinson Hagan’s text; others have chosen more traditional translations. “I think we’re all perhaps participating for various reasons,” says Marshall. “Some of us are actually pacifists….Some of us perhaps do feel that Saddam Hussein’s regime needs to be addressed, but question the motives of our government doing so at this time. So we’re not a ‘singular’ voice in this project, but we’re here for the same reason.”

Greasy Joan & Company perform Lysistrata at 7:30 PM at the Viaduct Theater, 3111 N. Western (773-296-6024); reservations are recommended. Information about the international Lysistrata Project is available at www.lysistrataproject.com. For information on other local readings see the Theater listings. All events are free, but donations will be accepted for the antiwar organization Not in Our Name.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Saverio Truglia.