chapter  6
Opting out and giving (it) up: The Uncoupling and Lysistrata Jones (2011–12)
Pages 19

In Meg Wolitzer’s 2011 novel, The Uncoupling, the women of Stellar Plains, New Jersey collectively opt out of sex. The female students, staff, and faculty of Eleanor Roosevelt High School join in a chorus of refusal: “all over that town, you could hear the word ‘no’” (21). Their Lysistrata-style strike, however, is not intended to stop a war or even to make a point. They never planned on withholding sex-but all of a sudden they just don’t feel like it. Unlike the women of Aristophanes’ text, Wolitzer’s heroines are overcome by a supernatural force that travels in the form of “a cool wind” and turns women off from their partners one shiver-inducing breeze at a time. As luck would have it, that strange gust blows into town just as the new high school drama teacher begins rehearsals for her rather boldly chosen inaugural show: Lysistrata. At the same time that Wolitzer’s novel of domestic discord started garnering

write-ups in the New York Times and the Washington Post, producers of the off-Broadway hit musical Lysistrata Jones were securing the Walter Kerr Theatre for the show’s official Broadway launch. Having already sold out houses under the title Give it Up at the Dallas Theater Center and later, under its new name at the Judson Memorial Church Gym in New York, Lysistrata Jones’ energetic college basketball setting seemed destined to win over young audiences on Broadway. With previews throughout November 2011 and an opening on December 14, curtains coincidentally rose on the show exactly 86 years to the day after the Moscow Art Theatre brought Lysistrata to Broadway for the first time in 1925.