Odyssey Theatre’s play features sex strike to save the environment

Jared Davidson

Located in the heart of Sandy Hill, nestled in the lush greenery of Strathcona Park, is one of Ottawa’s oldest theatre companies. For 32 years, Odyssey has been a staple of the neighbourhood’s summer, offering a unique blend of contemporary adaptations, new plays, and classical theatre. Each year, Odyssey Theatre welcomes Sandy Hill to their stage to enjoy a night of Theatre Under the Stars, their award-winning open-air performances featuring mask, movement, music, and elaborate sets.

This year will be no different. Odyssey’s outdoor stage will be host to a world premiere of Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia, a new comedy by award-winning Toronto writer and director David S. Craig, from July 26-August 26 of this year. The play is inspired by Aristophanes’ Lysistrata which was originally performed in ancient Athens to protest the Peloponnesian war. Lysistrata is one of the oldest plays in Western comedy. It features a well-known and often-imitated plot device: the women of Athens go on a sex strike to convince their partners to stop a war.

David S. Craig’s Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia takes the familiar story in a new direction. In the new play, the women strike, not to stop conflict, but to convince their partners to take environmental issues seriously.

Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia is set in the year 2118, and climate change has made the world inhospitable. The rising oceans are acidic, the air is toxic, and the plants and animals are dying.

But, for the humans of the future, it’s easy to dismiss all of this as “just the weather.” Easy, that is, until an ancient goddess named Gaia appears and threatens to destroy all humanity unless they promise to take better care of the planet. The women agree, the men refuse, and a classic battle of the sexes ensues.

Over a 44-year career, David S. Craig has distinguished himself as a major player in Canada’s theatre world, having written over 30 plays, many of which have toured across Canada and the world. This is Craig’s second time at the helm of an Odyssey production, his first being 2012’s The Fan for which he won the Prix Rideau Award for Outstanding Adaptation.

With an incredible cast, expert direction, and Odyssey’s trademark style, Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia promises to deliver classic comedy with an environmental twist, a recipe for a perfect night out in Strathcona Park.

“We’re so excited to see the neighbourhood,” says Artistic Director Laurie Steven. “We love Sandy Hill. It’s been our home for over 30 years, and we want to give back at every opportunity.”

In addition to Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia, Sandy Hill residents are welcome to join Odyssey in Strathcona Park for Environmental Action Day, August 5th, a day to celebrate the wonderful green space that is Strathcona Park. The event will feature a park cleanup and naturalization, followed by an Eco Fair at which members of local environmental organizations will offer tips and advice to our community.