Feminism + Fun, Activism + Art, Comedy + Controversy: A conversation with Donna Kaz & Rahne Alexander
2pm Sunday 24 Sept 2017
Baltimore Book Festival
Inner Harbor Stage
Looking behind the mask of one of the famously controversial Guerrilla Girls
UN/MASKED, Memoirs of a Guerrilla Girl on Tour by Donna Kaz AKA Aphra Behn
Donna Kaz was 24 years old when she moved to New York City in the fall of 1977 to pursue a career in theatre. She rented a spacious loft apartment on gritty Fifth Avenue in Chelsea and landed a job serving beers and burgers at the classic bar, Jimmy Day’s, in Greenwich Village. She was on her way until a tall, blonde, handsome actor sat in her station during a lunch shift. That actor was William Hurt who swept Kaz off her feet and carried her to Hollywood and back for a three-plus year love affair that was both fantastical and physically dangerous. It took Kaz fourteen years to begin to admit she had survived domestic violence. Once she realized the extent of the abuse she had been subjected to she pulled a gorilla mask over her head and became “Aphra Behn,” a bad-ass feminist, activist and member of the Guerrilla Girls.
UN/MASKED, Memoirs of a Guerrilla Girl On Tour, follows the unmasked Donna Kaz, and the masked Aphra Behn through their often surprising 25 year journey. In a braided narrative that flips between 1977 and 1997, Donna Kaz describes, with an ironic and humorous voice, what it was like go from being on the arm of William Hurt and an insider on the sets of movies like Altered States and Bodyheat, to an anonymous outsider donning a scary gorilla mask to protest sexism at Broadway’s Tony Awards. Donna Kaz hobnobs with actress Kathleen Turner and director Lawrence Kasden, while Aphra Behn organizes sticker campaigns focused at the big New York City theatres which produce season after season of only plays by white male playwrights. When the Roundabout Theatre’s toilet stalls (in both women and men’s rooms) are plastered with Guerrilla Girls’ stickers stating: In this theatre, the taking of photographs, the use of a recording device and the production of plays by women is strictly prohibited – the Roundabout announces their next season will include two plays by women. Aphra and the Guerrilla Girls take all the credit and go on to create comedic art and theater that blasts the blatant sexism of the theater world while proving feminists are funny at the same time.