Greece It 

Get some play at Calvin Simmons


For a 2,400-year-old comedy, Aristophanes' antiwar classic Lysistrata has had a lot of play in the last couple years, which is funny because it's all about not getting play. Fed up with twenty years of war against Sparta, the titular Athenian heroine organizes a sex strike, declaring that the women of Athens will stop putting out till the boys put their swords away and promise to play nice. The antiwar sentiment rang true for a lot of Athenians when the play first appeared in 411 BC during the Peloponnesian War, not long after Athenian forces had been shattered in Sicily, and it's no less timely today, when we're waging war left and right on the thinnest of pretexts. Last year's Lysistrata Project organized 1,029 staged readings in 59 countries and all fifty states on the same day, March 3. Now, the National Theater of Greece, founded by King George I in 1900 and last seen in the Bay Area with last year's highly acclaimed Medea at the Greek Theater, gets into the act with this production, adapted and directed by Kostas Tsianos and starring prominent Greek actress Lydia Koniordou and a thirty-member cast. For those whose ancient Greek is a little rusty, the text has helpfully been translated into modern Greek. Oh, and there are English supertitles if you're into that sort of thing.

Lysistrata's two-show stint this weekend at Oakland's Calvin Simmons Theater is the production's US debut and only West Coast appearance, after which New York City gets sloppy seconds for a weeklong run at City Center. If the Olympics made you curious what that whole Greek culture thing was all about, you can check out these Greeks' theatrical gifts Friday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., with preperformance talks with the director an hour before each performance, at the Calvin Simmons Theater, 10 10th St. Tickets cost $35-65, or $100 for great seats and entrance to a VIP gala party. Get 'em all by visiting or calling 866-468-3399. -- Sam Hurwitt

Sat 10/2

Au Naturel

Verdant Verse

"It's too nice a day to read a novel set in England," David Berman writes. "We're within inches of the perfect distance from the sun/the sky is blueberries and cream/and the wind is as warm as air from a tire." At the ninth annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival this Saturday (noon-5 p.m.) at Berkeley's Civic Center Park, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Hass, Pattiann Rogers, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Peter Warshall, Lucille Lang Day, Kirk Lumpkin, Susan Kelly De-Witt, and many other poets (but not Berman) will pine for pines and moon over moons. Musicians, naturalists, and environmental activists will be there, and the Anima Mundi Dance Company will perform selections from Maxine Hong Kingston's The Fifth Book of Peace. Free. 510-526-9105, -- Stefanie Kalem


Songs and Secrets

What don't men tell? Don't ask us -- for some reason we couldn't get too many straight answers. But Laterras R. Whitfield might have an answer or two with his gospel-driven stage play,What Men Don't Tell , at the Paramount Theatre this weekend. Starring gospel star Dottie Peoples and well-known R&B singers Chanté Moore, Kenny Lattimore, Lenny Williams (Tower of Power), and Gary Jenkins (Silk), WMDT tells the story of three men obsessed -- one with power, another with money, and the third with sex -- and how God changes their hearts. Performances Thursday, Friday, at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. $24.50-$32.50., 510-465-6400 -- Stefanie Kalem


Veni Vidi Venom

For its first production since arriving in California from Chicago, theatre Q chose to present David Marshall Grant's Snakebit at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Now the company -- dedicated to promoting a positive sense of what it means to be gay today -- comes down from the mountain, landing at Walnut Creek's Dean Lesher Center for another go-round with Grant's tale. Michael, a social worker with a recently broken relationship, a new move, and friends in town from New York, has to deal with what happens when things don't work out as planned. Snakebit runs Fridays through Saturdays at 8:15 p.m. and Sundays at 2:15 p.m. Tickets: 925-943-7469. -- Stefanie Kalem


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