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Funky 1970s version of 'Lysistrata' opens Fine Arts Theatre season

Bobbie Bell directs students during 'Lysistrata' rehearsals.

Seminole State College Professor Bobbie Bell was recently recognized for his 30th year with the College. To celebrate, Bell decided to adapt and direct the Greek comedy “Lysistrata,” a large show that allowed him to work with many student actors, 17 total.  

How is this different from what you usually expect of the classic Greek comedy?

To make ”Lysistrata” accessible to a wide audience, the play has been set in a funkadelic nightclub called the Acropolis. The play opens in the early 1970s with the main character, Lysistrata, a hold out of the hippie generation, while much of the rest of Athens is into the funk/disco era. The set by Professor Eric Craft will be familiar to anyone who was young in that era or witnessed it secondhand in movies like “Saturday Night Fever” or “That's the Way of the World.” Instead of the Greek chorus accompanied by drum and flute, we will be using the music of James Brown, Earth Wind and Fire, The Commodores, Stevie Wonder, The Isley Brothers and Rufus featuring Chaka Khan.

What are some surprises the audience may see?

Along with the musical choices and the funky vibe, the students are putting on a lively, toe-tapping version of this classic comedy about women who stage a sex strike to end a war.

What were some of the challenges of adapting this play?

The hardest part was doing the rough Greek translation – that took most of the summer with a dictionary of Classical Greek in one hand and my old Paine’s Greek grammar in the other. The original work is very graphic and has many classical allusions that would be lost on a contemporary audience. The trick is substituting icons. The imagery, references, and icons are chosen from the 1968-73 era. The other challenge was putting together this large of a play with a 3 ½-week rehearsal schedule. The students here are awesome and rose to the challenge of putting on a play in less time than professional companies in town are allowed, which is usually a minimum of four weeks.

How are students involved in the production?

Other than Professor Samuel Gaustad, who helped with the music, script and is playing the role of Laches, one of the Old Men of Athens, the cast is entirely students with 17 characters. The student stage manager for the production, Chad Mills, runs a tight ship and is a great professional. In addition to the cast, all of the backstage work, other than light design handled by Professor Richard Harmon, is done by students – from building the set to running the show to greeting audiences in front of the house.

Ticket information

“Lysistrata” opens on Friday, Oct. 4, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 13 in Seminole State College’s Fine Arts Theatre in building G on the Sanford/Lake Mary Campus. Tickets are available now by calling 407.708.2040 or by visiting the Fine Arts Theatre Box Office. 

Individual ticket prices for Seminole State productions:

  • Currently enrolled Seminole State students, faculty and staff members: FREE!
  • General public: $10
  • Senior citizens (60+) and students of other schools: $8
  • For more information on Seminole State

For more information on cultural events at Seminole State, please visit the Arts website.



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