Livermore performing arts group Encore Players is set to put on an ancient Greek classic with a striking message.
For the first show of 2023, they are presenting "Lysistrata" based on the Greek play by Aristophanes and adapted by San Francisco playwright Will Huddleston.
The story follows Lysistrata, a woman of Athens, who becomes tired of the constant wars in Greece and the surrounding regions. She then devises a plan to unite the women of Greece in protest of the ongoing conflicts: They agree to withhold sex from the men of the nation until a peace treaty is reached.
Martie Muldoon, longtime member of Encore Players, spoke about the play's thematic significance.
"This play highlights the fact that those who are marginalized still hold power, and can use their strengths to better the world," Muldoon said. "Also, that sex is hilarious."
"I love that women take control of the men by taking control of their bodies, and that the men realize if they want peace at home, it will lead to peace between factions," added Muldoon, who is not only a producer of the "Lysistrata" show but acts in it as well.
Initially founded in 2014, Encore Players maintains the goal of providing a more inclusive theater community. While they accept performers from all demographics, Encore Players focuses on including senior performers and creatives.
"Encore has grown to include actors of all ages, but the mission is to choose works that give senior actors more opportunities," Muldoon told the Weekly. "We feel it's important for all of us, as we age, to stay active in the arts. Encore is dedicated to that goal."
Muldoon discussed how the company strives for inclusivity beyond just their productions.
"In addition to our main stage productions usually twice a year, we also partner with the library to produce informative and fun programs, which don't need to be memorized or rehearsed as much," Muldoon said.
The partnership allows Encore Players to create roles for those who aren't comfortable memorizing, have limited mobility or otherwise aren't comfortable performing in a fully staged production.
Director of the play, Diann McCannon, hopes audiences are not only entertained but thought provoked by "Lysistrata".
"War is bad; peace is always what we should strive for. Even though it's a comedy, that's the main thing that I wanted to get across," she said.
McCannon's background stems from performing, although she is an experienced play director. She explained that directing "Lysistrata" has been challenging due to the lack of older performers auditioning.
"We had a hard time casting and finding actors," McCannon said. "In Encore Players, even though they accept all ages, they really try to include senior actors in their productions. I would really like to see more senior actors get involved."
"It's important for this community to include senior actors," McCannon added. "I'm a senior citizen and for me it's something that gives me a purpose or something to do, that brings fulfillment to my life."
McCannon also hopes viewers will walk away with a newfound appreciation for local arts.
"That's something that I really wanted to push, there's good community theater in the Tri-Valley and it needs to be supported," she said.
Newcomer Desty Shoemaker will step into her first role with Encore Players as the lead, Lysistrata.
"This is my first show with this great group of people," Shoemaker said. "I love community theater and am always looking for productions I can be part of that are within my geographics."
"Although it's a comedy, this play takes on some serious issues and shows that when people band together with a common purpose they can make positive change happen," Shoemaker said. "I hope audiences will have a few good laughs during the show and reflect afterward on how important it is to stand up for the things they believe in."
Due to the nature of the storyline, the theater company has recommended that viewer discretion be advised for anyone under the age of 16.
The company will be performing "Lysistrata" from Jan. 28 through Feb. 5 at the Bothwell Arts Center in Livermore, 2466 8th St.
Afternoon shows will play Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. while evening shows are Jan. 28, Feb. 3 and Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or online for $25. For more information, visit Livermorearts.org.