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03.03.03 -- The Lysistrata Project

My weekly look back at the feats The Paradise accomplished.

Tonight I signed the SHUNPIKE fiscal sponsorship contract giving me the opportunity to start producing theatre again in Jefferson County and beyond. For those of you who are not familiar with SHUNPIKE and the great work they do, here is a link to their website:

I plan to pick up where The Paradise left off with the spirit of making theatre that addresses the problems and possibilities of our time. 2019 will be a year of organization and planning. By 2020, I will be the Artistic Director of a new theatre company. I look forward to sharing my work with you.

The name of the theatre and its mission will be revealed at a later date. In the meantime, once a week, on this blog I will share with you details of all of the past productions at The Paradise. I want to recognize the strong foundation I’m building this new venture on and the extraordinary support this community of Jefferson County has given The Paradise since 2003.

Sixteen years ago today, The Paradise Theatre School with Erik Van Beuzekom and myself as Co-Artistic Directors presented its first event -- The Lysistrata Project.

What is The Lysistrata Project?

“The First-Ever Worldwide Theatrical Act Of Dissent. On Monday, 03/03/03, Fifty-nine countries hosted 1,029 readings of Lysistrata, Aristophanes' anti-war comedy, to protest the Bush Administration's unilateral war on Iraq. There was a reading in every single U.S. state.

Readings were held in theatres large and small, schools, churches, libraries, in music halls, homes, cafes, community centers, clubs, subway cars, parks, and on street corners. More than 300,000 people attended readings organized by our 1,029 Lysistrata Project "spearheads." Readings raised an estimated $125,000 for non-profit organizations working for peace and humanitarian aid. Some readings didn’t raise money, but the fact that they occurred at all resonated as a powerful symbol of world citizens united for peace. For example, a secret reading in northern Iraq was organized by members of the international press corps, who had to keep quiet about it or risk losing their jobs. A reading in Patras, Greece was held by Greeks and Kurdish refugees in an abandoned factory. There were secret readings in China and Isreal. A group of activists in Mindanao braved volatility to present their reading.” -- from Lysistrata Project Archive

With a brilliant and hilarious translation by Drue Robinson, we assembled a group of actors from Seattle and Jefferson County including Erik Van Beuzekom, Brian K. Neel, Jim Pargulski, Paul Shipp, Morgain Cole, Gail Bray, Lawrason Driscoll, Richard Claremont, and Diane Roberts. (Have I left someone out?)

We had a full house of friends from Seattle and Bainbridge Island and new friends from Jefferson County. It was the perfect way to begin a decade of provocative theatre the likes of which Jefferson County had not experienced.

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