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Lysistrata (Λυσιστράτη) is a Greek comedy by Aristophanes (c.446 BC – c. 386 BC)[1].

The original text

A comedy about Lysistrata's campaign to end the Peloponnesian War War by persuading the women of the warring cities to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace.

First performed in 411 B.C., directed by the author.

Translations and adaptations

The play has been translated into numerous languages, and has been adapted in many ways, over the years.

South African examples include:

Translated as Lusistrata into Afrikaans by J.P.J. van Rensburg, published by Human & Rousseau, 1970.

Adapted for the South African context as a bilingual (Afrikaans & English) text called Miss Los Istrata by Robin Malan (1972). The action is set at a contemporary Miss World competition where a “sex strike” for world peace and women’s liberation is led by one of the contenders, the representative of a small South American country.

Lysistrata S.A. by Dermod Judge was based on the South African political situation in the mid-70s and first performed in 1977.

An adapted Afrikaans version of the original play, set in the Cape, was written by Ben Dehaeck, with the title Lucy Strata (1984).

Performance history in South Africa

1952: NTO staged a touring production of the English version, directed by Leon Gluckman with Vivienne Drummond, Anne McMenamin and Lydia Lindeque. Set by Ronald Philip.

1958: The English text by Dudley Fitts was presented by the University of Cape Town Drama Department at The Little Theatre as part of the UCT Arts Festival, directed by Johan de Meester, 3 to 13 September starring Percy Sieff as the magistrate and Elizabeth Bennett in the role of Lysistrata.

1962: Performed in the original Greek in South Africa by the Athens Drama Company, when Leon Gluckman brought them here to perform at the Civic Theatre with direction by Costis Michaelides, starring Aleka Katselis, Maria Moscholiou and Costas Kazakos.

1967: Presented by CAPAB directed by Laurie van der Merwe and taken on tour to Stellenbosch, Paarl, Worcester, George and Oudtshoorn.

1972: The première production of Miss Los Istrata staged by students of the Stellenbosch University Drama Department in the H.B. Thom Theatre from 1 to 16 September. Directed by Robin Malan, with a cast of all the students in the Drama Department, including Tarina Kleyn (Miss Los Istrata), Johann van Heerden (agent 0011CIAMI5KGBSB), Dawie Malan (UK no. 1 & Marlene Dietrich), Tessa Cowan, Elsabe Kok, Sybil Coetzee, Awie de Swardt, Deon Bosman (Boris Itsykrotch Hahvitov), Ilse Treurnicht, Jannie Botes (USA no. 2), Lindy Smith (Miss UK), Chris Truter (USSR no. 3), Chris Visser, and others (all playing various roles). Music by Deon Bosman, choreography by Jacqui Singer, costumes by Elaine Aucamp and lighting by Emile Aucamp.

1974: The Company did a version in the Arena Theatre, wih a text adapted and directed by Barney Simon. The cast included Aletta Bezuidenhout (Lysistrata), Jud Cornell (Kalonike), Sue Kiel (Myrrhine), Janice Honeyman (Lampito), Vanessa Cooke (A Boiotian Woman), Lindsay Reardon (Commissioner), David Eppel (Kinesias), Jon Ossher (Herald) and Danny Keogh ( Ambassador).

1977: Lysistrata S.A. by Dermod Judge performed at The Space (Cape Town), directed by Dorrian McLaren, with music composed by Alan Hayman. The cast consisted of sixteen actors, five musicians and a singer, including Charles Comyn, Fatima Dike, Andrea Fine, Joe Hartzenberg, Merle Lifson, Liza Mbizela, James Mthoba, Thoko Ntshinga, Sam Phillips, Jacqui Singer and others. The musicians were Ko Eckhart, Alan Hayman, Timmy Kwebulana, Ezra Ngcukana, Ray Perkel. Designer: Dimitri Nicolas-Fanourakis.

1980: A production of the Van Rensburg translation was staged by the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department in the Langenhoven Student Centre at Stellenbosch University in May 1980, directed by Johann van Heerden (assisted by Ianette Rossouw), with Hélène Truter (Lusistrata), Wilna Engelbrecht (Kalonike), Niel le Roux (Proboelos), Herman Binge (Kinesias), Theresa Marais (Muurrine), Linda Jacobs (Lampito), Pamela Moag & Sharon Theron (Atheense Vroue), Estrellita Retief & Michelle Botes (Spartaanse vroue), Johan Rademan (Slaaf/Herout), Kobus Hanekom (Athener), Randall Wicomb (Spartaanse Gesant), Peter Holden (Portier) and Ianette Rossouw (Versoening), with a chorus of Old Women and a chorus of Old Men. Décor by Emile Aucamp, costumes by Elaine Aucamp and masks by Marjorie van Heerden, Lyn Lubbe and Elaine Aucamp.

1980: Presented in English by The Hermit Theatre, adapted and directed by Clive Rodel, June to July 1980.

1987: Performed in English by Rhodes University Drama Department directed by Roy Sargeant in May.

Late 1980s: Performed in English by the University of Cape Town Drama Department at the Little Theatre, directed by Marthinus Basson, starring Jennifer Woodburne, Lisa Hall, Sara Matchett, Nazli George, Anita Berk, Wilmien Rossouw, Cheryl Braaf, Judd Millner, Alistair Prodgers, Nigel Maister, Alan Glauber, Christopher Gxalaba. Set designer Reiner Leist, costume designer John Caviggia, lighting design by Anton Burggraaf.

1986: Lucy Strata by Ben Dehaeck performed at the Kellerprinz Drama Festival by the Breughel Theatre Group. Joint winners of the competition.

1990: The Van Rensburg Afrikaans translation staged by the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department in the Langenhoven Student Centre, directed by Johann van Heerden.

2003: The Van Rensburg Afrikaans translation performed in the H.B. Thom Theatre by students of the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department, directed by Marthinus Basson.


Helikon, 1(5):85. 1952.

Voëlvry programme notes, 1967.

Astbury 1979.

Stellenbosch Drama Departmenttheatre programme, May 1990.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Copy of a catalogue (handwritten by various hands) of the F.C.L. Bosman collection held at the Nasionale Afrikaanse Letterkunde Museum en Navorsingsentrum (NALN) in Bloemfontein.

Theatre programme (Rhodes 1987) NELM: [Collection: THEATRE PROGRAMMES]: 2012. 285. 1. 173.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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