Today I wanted to share a little bit more about a group I mentioned in my last blogpost: Guerrilla Girls On Tour (sidenote: Ever have to spell the word “guerrilla” before? It’s surprisingly difficult). I found Guerrilla Girls through 50/50 in 2020’s facebook page, where they posted the group’s 2011/2012 Girlcott List — a listing of professional theatre companies in our country who are not producing a play — NOT ONE SINGLE PLAY — written by a woman in their 2011/2012 theatre season.
The list is long and a little bit surprising (Stepphenwolf? THE PUBLIC THEATER IN NYC??? REALLY?!?!), though I have to admit I understand the lack of female playwrights produced by the Seattle SHAKESPEARE Company (even though I’m still banking on the “Queen Elizabeth I was Shakespeare” theory, in which case the Shakespeare companies are doing AWESOME!). Whether you want to boycott or not, the Guerrilla Girls are doing a service by not only reminding us how few female playwrights are getting their work produced, but by also pinpointing the theatre companies guilty of leaving them out.
The main goal of Guerrilla Girls On Tour is to travel (thus, “On Tour”) and produce theatre about women’s history and “the current state of women in the performing arts and beyond.” The group, based in NYC, performs anonymously (they wear gorilla masks — gorilla/guerrilla; get it?! — and perform under the names of dead female artists to hide their identities) in the hopes of allowing their audience to focus on the issues being presented, rather than the performers themselves. According to their blog, their performances “use comedic, physical, and vaudevillian-like techniques to prove that feminists are funny.” I have never seen these girls in action, but after reading about them, I sure want to!
One of the questions I often ask is what can we, as dramachicks, do to celebrate the work of female playwrights, to make the world aware of their wonderful work, and to encourage the production of their works on a grander scale? For me, it’s writing this blog and trying to get my own work out there. For others it’s simply supporting local theatres that produce plays by women. For some it’s doing theatre in a gorilla mask. You never know what might make a difference; or, at least, you never know until you try.
Oh, and one last thing…when you check out the Guerrilla Girls’ website, you may want to consider checking the volume on your computer. They have a REALLY catchy jingle. It’s akin to “This is the Song that Never Ends” in terms of how deeply it will be imbedded into your brain. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.