[MA Creative Writing] – Lysistrata

Module: Intertextuality: Story, Genre, Craft

PART A: A piece of creative writing in any genre, in response to one or more of the case studies presented in the module (and to individual reading and research following on from the case study materials).  This could be a response to one or more core texts, or an adaptation or ‘version’ of a self-chosen text, as negotiated with the tutor  (3, 000 words) [60%]

PART B: An analysis of the intertextual relationships between your creative writing for Part A and two or more of the literary texts studied, demonstrating an understanding of key concepts introduced in the module, and their impact on your own work.  You should refer to at least one of the Case Studies in detail.  (2,000 words) [40%]


 

PART A: LYSISTRATA

Prior to the performance, a projection screen is lowered Downstage Centre. As spectators take their seats their attention should be drawn to a quote projected onto this screen:

 

“The plot requires us to assume that consensual marital sex was the only kind of sex available to an Athenian Male, or at least the only kind that would give him worthwhile satisfaction; well-known alternatives are simply ignored. – Alan H. Sommerstein”.


 

 Scene 1.

 

The projection screen is lifted to reveal a single shelving unit stocked with 28 varieties of Tomato Ketchup. An Old Man enters pushing a shopping trolley, he stops to browse, an Old Woman follows ticking off a shopping list.

 

Old Man                     The question is: to squirt, or not to squirt?

Old Woman               Ay?

Old Man                     There’s all this talk about squirting these days. I prefer the ol’ glass                            bottles with the screw lid. I like banging on the end of it, you get more                            out. It’s more satisfying that way.

Old Woman               But you always make such a mess dear. Last week you as good as                                             put your back out doing it.

Old Man                     (Distracted.) Oh, look love. Fiery Chilli.

Old Woman               You fool. That’s too hot for you.

Old Man                     Maybe I’d like to spice it up a little. Go for something a bit different?

Old Woman               Oh, bloody hell. What’s wrong with the regular red sauce, the one                                          you’ve always had, the one you’ve had every week at home for the                            past forty years?

Old Man                     Maybe I fancy a change.

 

                                                                                                                                    (Beat.)

 

Old Woman               Choose a bloody sauce.

 

The Old Woman continues with her weekly shop, and wanders offstage.

 

Old Man                     I can’t. There’s too much choice.

 

The Old Man cannot decide between two sauces, he places both in the trolley.

 

Scene.


Scene 2.

Lysistrata’s Apartment. Stereotypical pieces of furniture are used to suggest three different rooms: Downstage Left a bedroom, Downstage Right a Living Room, and Upstage Right a

Kitchen with a door to enter/exit.

 

Husband holds a large overnight bag. He puts on his coat.

 

Husband                    Have fun tonight. Don’t miss me too much.

Lysistrata                  Don’t go.

Husband                    Next weekend I’m all yours, I promise.

Lysistrata                  You say that every weekend.

Husband                    This time I promise, okay?

Lysistrata                  Okay.

 

They kiss each other goodbye. The Husband opens the door. Calonice is on the other side of the door about to knock, holding two heavy shopping bags.

 

Husband                    You alright, Calonice?

Calonice                     Oh, hiya. Working away again, I see?

Husband                    Unfortunately so.

 

Calonice enters and greets Lysistrata.

           

Husband                    (To Lysistrata.) Have fun! See you, Sunday.

Lysistrata                   See you, Sunday.

 

Calonice slams the door shut. She empties her shopping bags immediately, and carries four bottles of wine into the living room.

 

Calonice                     Come on then, spill it.

Lysistrata                  What?

Calonice                     What’s he done, now?

Lysistrata                  He hasn’t done anything.

 

Calonice pours two large glasses of wine and gives one to Lysistrata.

 

It’s just, loving him is such a battle. It’s like we are at war and the                                           peace needs to be restored.

 

Calonice                     He’s a twat.

Lysistrata                  He is. But he’s has been my whole life for the last five years. He was                              the one. He is the one.

Calonice                     Every relationship has its difficulties. You’ll work through it.                                                 You’ll make a truce.

Lysistrata                  He just gives me so much ammunition to use against him. The other                            day we had sex and he just got straight up afterwards and made egg                              and soldiers.

Calonice                     Egg and soldiers?

Lysistrata                  Yep.

Calonice                     And you don’t like egg and soldiers?

Lysistrata                  It’s not that I don’t like egg and soldiers. I do like egg and soldiers. It’s                            just, give me a cuddle or something. Tell me that you love the way                                               my hair gets messy after we shag. Give me something. Anything.                                     Don’t just walk into the kitchen and make egg and fucking soldiers.

 

(Calonice stares at her blankly.)

 

God. Why am I attacking him like this?

Calonice                     You’re allowed to find someone frustrating after five years, you know.

Lysistrata                  It’s more than that. I think he’s falling out of love with me. Like,                                                 sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and I can hear him                                  watching porn in the living room.  I know that it shouldn’t annoy                                      me. I know that everyone does it, but it’s not like I don’t make                                       advances, I do, I make advances, and he retreats. He retreats away                                       from me to those disgusting unobtainable women on a fucking screen.

Calonice                     That’s the issue nowadays, we can have it whenever we want, and                                          however we want it: girl on girl, man on man, BBW, BDSM.

Lysistrata                  But what is sex without love?

Calonice                     Different. Exciting.

Lysistrata                  Wrong.

Calonice                     Wrong makes it exciting.

Lysistrata                  It makes me want to stab his eyes out with a bayonet. When did sex                               become so important?  I just want to talk to him like we used to. We

used to stay up all night and talk about things.

Calonice                     Then don’t have sex with him.

Lysistrata                  Sorry?

Calonice                     Stop having sex with him.

Lysistrata                  Why would I do that?

Calonice                     To see, you know? If, apart from the one time a week you have sex –

Lysistrata                  Two times.

Calonice                     – see if there is anything else left between you two. Force him to talk to                          you. Force him to give you more.

 

Lysistrata contemplates Calonice’s proposal.

 

Scene.


Scene 3.

 

Lysistrata’s apartment, later. Three of the four bottles of wine are empty.

 

Lysistrata                  Sex is no more!

Calonice                     Death to sex!

Lysistrata                  From this day, forth.

Calonice                     Yes.

Lysistrata                  Sex –

Calonice                     Yes.

Lysistrata                  – is –

Calonice                     Yes.

Lysistrata                  – renounced.

 

Calonice cheers.

 

Calonice                     You must take an oath!

 

Calonice goes to the kitchen cupboard. There is the sound of glass breaking. She brings out a large bowl, places it on the table, and pours wine into it. 

 

Repeat after me. I will not allow my husband.

Lysistrata                  I will not allow my husband.

Calonice                     To approach me in a state of erection.

Lysistrata                   To approach me in a state of erection.

Calonice                      And I will live at home in unsullied chastity.

Lysistrata                    And I will live at home in unsullied chastity.

Calonice                     I’ll tease him with sexy underwear from Ann Summers.

Lysistrata                  I’ll tease him with sexy underwear from Ann Summers

Calonice                     But I will never raise my legs towards the ceiling.

Lysistrata                  But I will never raise my legs towards the ceiling.

Calonice                     Or adopt the wheelbarrow position.

Lysistrata                   Or adopt the wheelbarrow position.

Calonice                     And if I abide by this oath, may I drink by this cup.

Lysistrata                  And if I abide by this oath, may I drink by this cup.

 

Lysistrata and Calonice down the wine out of the bowl.

 

Scene.


Scene 4.

 

Lysistrata is tidying up. She puts the wine bottles in the bin. She turns off the lights and goes to bed.  

 

Unable to sleep, she opens her laptop, the light of the screen encompasses the stage.

 

The projection screen is lowered. We see a projection of the laptop screen, as if we have zoomed in.  

 

Lysistrata goes to google.

 

Lysistrata types in Ann Summers, and goes to the ‘most popular’ tab.

 

Scene.


 

Scene 5.

 

The projection screen is still lowered, downstage centre. In the bedroom, Lysistrata poses in front of a mirror in a black corset from Ann Summers. Her laptop is open on the bed. 

 

She puts on a dressing gown.

 

The projection screen illuminates, it shows Lysistrata’s Facebook Page. She is talking to Calonice on ‘Messenger’. 

 

Calonice types: So, is tonight the big night?

 

Lysistrata replies: Yep. The corset is on. He should be home any second now.

 

Calonice sends: (Person raising both hands in celebration emoji) and then types: I can’t believe you have gone a whole month without sex.

 

Lysistrata replies:  Never again. (Weary face emoji, aubergine emoji).

 

A man called Cinesias pops up on ‘Messenger’. His profile picture is of him, his wife, and his child.

 

Cinesias types: Hey Beautiful. Fancy a shag?

 

Lysistrata shuts the laptop.

 

 The projection screen raises. 

 

We hear Husband opening the door with his keys. Lysistrata takes off her dressing gown and stands seductively by the door.

 

The door opens.

 

Husband walks straight past Lysistrata and into the bedroom. He returns and sits on the sofa with his head on his hands.

 

Husband                    We need to talk.

 

Lysistrata walks over to Husband, and starts to kiss his neck.

 

Lysistrata                  I don’t want to talk. We’ve done too much talking.

Husband                    (Pushing Lysistrata away.) Lysistrata, listen. We need to talk.

 

Lysistrata tries to straddle her Husband on the settee, but he pushes her off.

 

Husband                    Stop it. You’re embarrassing yourself.

Lysistrata                   What the fuck is wrong with you?

Husband                    I can’t do this anymore.

Lysistrata                   This? What are you on about, this?

Husband                    This. Us.

Lysistrata                   Don’t be so ridiculous, I –

Husband                     – I’m not being ridiculous. I have gone over and over this in my mind.                           I should have done this a long time ago. I don’t feel the same anymore.                                 I need you to listen to me. I can’t do this anymore.

Lysistrata                   Have I been annoying you? Because that’s normal after five years of                                 marriage. You annoy me. Sometimes –

Husband                    – you’re not annoying me –

Lysistrata                  – I sit there and think, oh god, he eats so loudly, how am I going to be                            with this person for all of eternity when he eats this loudly? But it’s                               fine, because I love you, so I work past it. We just need to work past it.

Husband                    You’re not annoying me.

Lysistrata                   Is it the sex thing?

Husband                    What sex thing?

Lysistrata                  You know, that I stopped having sex with you.

Husband                    You deliberately stopped having sex with me?

Lysistrata                   Well I wanted us to go back to how we used to be. When we talked to                                  each other, and enjoyed each other, and Calonice told me to stop                                     having sex with you to see if that helped.

Husband                    Fuckin’ ell.

 

                                                                                                                                    (Beat.)

 

Lysistrata                   Is there someone else?

Husband                    What? No.

Lysistrata                  Don’t lie to me.

Husband                    There isn’t anyone else.

Lysistrata                  Oh god –

Husband                    – Lysistrata stop making things up, there’s not –

Lysistrata                  – You didn’t even notice that I wasn’t having sex with you, did you?                            Because you were sleeping with someone else. Oh, my god.

Husband                    You’re crazy.

Lysistrata                  All this working away. You haven’t been working away.

Husband                    I have been working away.

Lysistrata                  All this time I thought I was bringing us closer together. That by taking                          the sex away you would speak to me, and we’d fall back madly in love.                                    You need to tell me. Is there someone else?

 

                                                                                                                                    (Beat.)

 

Husband        (He struggles.) Yes.

 

Lysistrata breaks down. 

 

Husband                    I thought that I was losing you. That I’d already lost you. You pushed                                     me away. I wanted someone to love me, to give me attention –

Lysistrata                  How can you do that to me?

Husband                    – I can’t help it. I guess I’m just a product of my environment.

Lysistrata                  Don’t give me that bullshit. I get people asking me to fuck them all                                the time, and here’s a shocking end to that story: I don’t! I tell them no.                                  Even when it’s shit between us. I stay with you. I choose you.

 

Husband                    Should love be a choice?

Lysistrata                  Yes. And you chose me! Five years ago, you chose me.

Husband                    Well, maybe that was a mistake.

 

                                                                                                                                    (beat.)

 

Lysistrata                  Who? How long?

Husband                    Lysistrata don’t ask me this –

Lysistrata                   Fucking answer me. How long?

Husband                    About a month.

Lysistrata                  A month.

Husband                    Four weeks.

Lysistrata                  We’ve been together for five years, and I stop having sex with you for                                    five minutes, and you already feel the need to go off and find someone                          else? Are you eighteen-years-old? Where did you find her, in                                      Macdonald’s car park at one in the morning?

 

                                                                                                                                    (Beat.)

 

Do you love her?

Husband                    I don’t know.

Lysistrata                  Well can you kindly figure it out please, fucking hell?

Husband                    I enjoy her, more than I enjoy you.

 

                                                                                                                                    (Beat.)

 

Lysistrata                  All I can hear is someone telling you to do it, do it, do it. A voice                                                 whispering in your ear, in the dark, telling you which way, and white                                    sheets, and gasping.

Husband                    Look, people split up all the time.

Lysistrata                   Are you fucking kidding me? I’m not worried about the fucking                                                 practicalities. What about the ethics?             What about the love? We are                                             married. You took an oath. You promised to be faithful to me. What                               about the life we have built together? How can you throw all this                                     away?

Husband                    Lys –

Lysistrata                   – Do you still love me? I’ll forgive you. We’ll get past this. Do you still                                   love me?

Husband                    No.

 

Lysistrata breaks down again. 

 

Lysistrata                  Get out.

Husband                    Lys –

Lysistrata                   – Get out.

Husband                    (Walking towards the door.) I’ll come and get my things in a couple of                                 days.

Lysistrata                  What? Are you going to live with her?

Husband                    Yes. Probably.

 

Husband opens the door. Lysistrata runs across the apartment slams it shut, keeping them both inside.

 

Lysistrata                  Don’t leave me.

Husband                    For fuck’s sake. You just told me to go.

Lysistrata                  Please. Please don’t leave me.

Husband                    You need to get off me.

Lysistrata                  I’ll do anything. Please.

Husband                    I’ll be back in a couple of days for my things.

Lysistrata                  No. Don’t do this. Don’t do this to me. I cannot believe that I can feel                              this for you and you feel nothing.

 

The Husband leaves the apartment.

 

                                    Do you feel nothing?

Black out.


Scene 6.

 

Downstage Left: a small mound of logs, as if to start a fire. Downstage Right: An Old Woman sits on a sofa reading a newspaper. There is a bucket of water at her feet.

 

The Old Man walks behind the Old Woman carrying an (unfortunately placed) small log and places it on the pile. He walks back past the settee.  

 

Some moments later, he returns with an (unfortunately placed) medium sized log and places it on the pile. He walks back past the settee.

 

He returns with an (unfortunately placed) large log and places it on the pile. This time he lights the fire and starts to scream in pain having burnt his hand.

 

The Old Woman picks up the bucket of water, goes to the fire and puts it out, soaking the Old Man too.

 

She sits down on the sofa and picks up the newspaper.  

 

Old Woman               Fucking idiot.

 

Scene.


Scene 7.

There is a split stage. Lysistrata has barricaded herself into the apartment by placing furniture in front of the door. She is sitting on a pile of tissues, crying hysterically

 

Husband is in the apartment block corridor, banging on the door.

 

Husband                    Lysistrata, for the last time, open the door.

Neighbour                  (Poking her head out of her apartment.) I’ve called the police, you                                          know! They’re on their way! All this banging, and shouting, and                                      crying, has gone one too long!

Husband                    You need to let me in.

Lysistrata                  You’re not taking your things.

Husband                    Lysistrata, come on.

Lysistrata                  You’re not taking your things.

Husband                    Lysistrata, stop this.

 

A Policeman enters.

 

Policeman                  What’s going on here, pal.

Husband                    My wife has barricaded herself inside of our apartment.

Policeman                  So, you’re trying to get in –

Husband                    No, I’m trying to get my things out.

Policeman                  – does your key not work?

Husband                    Key? She’s got half the fuckin’ furniture against the door.

Policeman                  Alright pal, there’s no need to swear.

(He tries to open the door.)

                                    What’s your wife’s name?

Husband                    Lysistrata.

Policeman                  Lysistrata, are you there? I’m a policeman. Can you let us in,                                                 please?

Lysistrata                  He’s going to take his things. He can’t take his things.

Policeman                  No one is going to take anything from you, Lysistrata.

Husband                    For God’s sake, open the door Lys.

Lysistrata                  No!

 

The Policeman steps to one side.  The Husband slumps down the wall defeatedly.

 

Policeman                  (Communicating with another officer.) You, alright. Yep. I’m at Elgar                           Court. Same old story. Marital break-up. Female has barricaded herself                         in the apartment. Bangin’ of drums and all manner. Can you come                                       down, please? Yes, we’re going to have to use some force to get in.

 

Lysistrata                  (Opening the door slightly.) There’s no need, I’ll open the door.

 

The Husband does not look at Lysistrata as he enters. He goes straight into the bedroom and begins to collect his things.

 

Lysistrata starts to hit the wall violently. The Policeman restrains her, for her own safety.

 

Policeman                  There’s no need to do silly things like that now, is there?

Lysistrata                  How dare you come here! You think you’re so bold coming here and                              looking me in my face. Shamelessness! Shamelessness! What use do I                              have for life? I would find release in death. I would find release in                                             death.

 

Making his way back through the apartment, the Husband trips over some toilet paper and falls into the kitchen counter, knocking the fruit bowl over. Various pieces of fruit fall across the floor.

 

Lysistrata                  (deranged.) That’s it! Take a peach, go on. Eat all the fucking peaches!

 

The Husband looks at Lysistrata worryingly, and then heads out of the door.

 

Black out.


Scene 8.

 

Some months later. Lysistrata’s apartment has some subtle changes (new cushions, flowers in the kitchen etc.). Lysistrata comes out of the bedroom with pyjamas on. She lights a candle and puts the tele on. She lies down on the sofa. She looks content.

 

The doorbell rings. Lysistrata looks at the door.

 

The doorbell rings again. Lysistrata gets up reluctantly and opens the door. It is her husband.

 

Husband                    Hi.

            (beat.)

Can I come in?

 

After some time, Lysistrata reluctantly steps aside.

 

Husband                    (Walking around the apartment.) The apartment looks nice. New                                                 cushions? It’s like I was never here.

Lysistrata                   Why are you here?

Husband                    I was hoping we could talk –

Lysistrata                   Talk about what.

Husband                    – about things. I’m really sorry. I have never apologised to you, and I                            want you to know that I’m sorry.

                                                                                                                                    (beat.)

And that I miss you.

Lysistrata                  Why are you doing this now?

Husband                    I miss you so much. I miss the smile you give me in the morning. I                                               miss your hand reaching out to me for hug. I want you to be mine, and                           always be by my side –

Lysistrata                  Oh god, stop. It’s been months. You haven’t called. You haven’t text. I                           was waiting for you to send me divorce papers. And now you turn up                                     to my house doing this?

Husband                    – we should be together.

 

The Husband begins to kiss Lysistrata. At first, she doesn’t respond, then she does so almost involuntarily.

 

Husband                    I love you Lysistrata. Please, please forgive me?

 

The Husband continues to kiss Lysistrata. He takes her into the bedroom. They get under the covers and begin to have sex. Lysistrata lies with her head on the pillow and looks out towards the audience.

 

Lysistrata                   (Whispering, as if to herself.) I will submit passively, and not thrust                           back. I will submit passively, and not thrust back. I will submit                                                 passively and not thrust back.

Black out.


Scene 9. 

The lights are off in the apartment. Lysistrata can be heard, and seen slightly, as she potters around.

 

She sits down, and opens her laptop. The light from the screen illuminates her face.

 

The projection screen is lowered, Downstage Centre. It displays the laptop screen, as in Scene 5.

Lysistrata opens the web browser, and goes to Google.

 

She types in the search bar: D I V O R C E. The search suggestions should be displayed on the screen as she types.

 

Black out.


 

Word Count: 3295

Grade: 72

 

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