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Sunday, August 20, 2017

AUGUST PROTEST ROUNDUP

Eileen Green, Sonia Agron, Michele Davidson

August, 13, 2017. One day after alt right, white supremacist groups organized a demonstration that turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia, injuring many and killing counter protestor, Heather Heyer. One day after President Trump refused to condemn the Nazi flags, Nazi chants and the racism and hatred on display in Charlottesville. On this day citizens across the US expressed their own outrage via peaceful vigils, marches and rallys from New York to Seattle. In New York City, RefuseFascism.org organized a “Take to the Streets” march from Columbus Circle to Trump Tower.” This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America,” posted on their face book page. 

Protesting NYC 
Three friends who stood side by side with me during the NYC Women’s March in January joined me at Columbus Circle with about 200 others to listen to speeches from representatives of Refuse Fascism and Black Lives Matter. We stood next to mothers and their children, young people and old people, all races, genders and one man wearing a yellow holocaust star badge with “Jude” printed on it, as nearby an angry guy held up a pro Trump sign. When one of the speakers announced he had just come from Charlottesville, his voice hoarse from protesting, we huddled closer to hear his report.

After speeches and well organized chants, we walked together down 59th Street, shouting “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA” as tourists and reporters snapped photos, street vendors looked up from grilling hot dogs and hansom cabs waited with their horse drawn carriages for us to stop interfering with their business. It was a short march to Fifth Avenue where we were stopped, prohibited from going beyond 58th street to Trump Tower.


Trump's racism is nothing new. White supremacists who glorify the legacy of slavery and who believe in the oppression of Black people have since been condemned by many including VA Governor Terry McAuliffe, Charlottesville mayor, Michael Signer and Republicans and Democrats alike.

Racist groups have no place in America. Racism is not patriotic. The alt right, white supremacists, Nazi’s must be stopped and stood up to. This is why we all gathered with Refuse Fascism today, to march and chant and hold up signs that said “You can’t repeal and replace Democracy” and “Denounce Domestic White Terrorism.” 

refusefascism.org


UPDATE: President Trump’s statements about the events in Charlottesville began as ambiguous. He initially failed to criticize the white supremacist’s violent behavior. A day later he read a carefully worded statement condemning hate groups, only to reverse himself again during a press conference where he made no distinction between the actions and beliefs of the Nazi’s, alt right and other racist groups and the counter protesters, blaming “both sides.”


Stand up against racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and antisemitism with your voice, your creativity, and your presence. Let us all unite against all forms of hate. Speak up when you hear white nonsense. Call everything like you see it. We are in this together for the long haul.
- APHRA BEHN

Fifth Avenue - Opposite Trump Tower





Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Activist Fatigue - Where do we go from here?

My column in The Clyde Fitch Report has launched!  


The Long Fight, the Big Loss and the Front Lines of Resistance




"Lately, I have felt a great nostalgia for protests, rallies and demonstrations from long ago and not so long ago. And every time I sit down in a theater I find myself yearning for something fresh and fearless. Why isn’t there a constant stream of actions, especially now, addressing issues like immigrant protection, criminal justice reform, pay equity, reproductive rights, gender parity, disability rights, LGBT rights and gun control? Donald Trump is president, for crying out loud. Why is the next big protest not scheduled for tomorrow? Where is the next great musical theater production to reflect these trying times? If a pink-hatted throng is not blocking the streets every day, what are we doing instead?"

READ MORE HERE:

Friday, June 9, 2017

OPED: The Broadway League, Casting Directors and the Tony Awards

Broadway is gearing up to celebrate the best of the season by handing out Tony Awards to directors, designers and performers. Many have argued that casting directors, those savvy women and men who find the talent for Broadway plays and musicals, should be recognized in a new Tony category – Best Casting.  But casting directors are currently seeking another kind of acknowledgment – the right to unionize.

Workers on Broadway have long been member of unions. Actors, stage manager, directors, choreographers, technicians, ushers, and even press agents are represented by 17 Broadway unions. The inspiration for many of these unions came from exploited workers wishing to prevent producers from taking advantage of them. There are now limits to the number of hours an actor can rehearse and who owns the rights to a play or musical a producer helps to develop, all because actors and playwrights are represented by strong unions and guilds.

Casting directors who work in film and television have only recently been provided protection by the Teamsters union which negotiates contracts for them. When a casting director casts a movie they receive benefits like health care coverage, pension plans and a decent wage. About a year ago, 40 Broadway casting directors took a nod from their film and television counterparts to become members of Theatrical Teamsters Local 817. They asked the Broadway League, the bargaining organization that recognizes all of Broadway’s unions, to recognize them. The League declined, stating in a letter that casting directors were “…independent contractors…separate businesses with their own employees and typically work on more than one show at a time within and outside our industry.”

Yet, the Broadway League depends heavily on casting directors who usually become involved in plays and musicals at the critical early stage, when a shows development rests on getting the best actors on the team. Casting directors are the conduit between producers and celebrities, those unionized stars who can guarantee the financial backing of a production.

During the 2016/17 season almost 13 million people attended Broadway shows which grossed almost a billion and a half dollars. It was the highest grossing season in Broadway history and the second-best attended season on record. So why is the Broadway League pushing back against adding the all-important casting directors to the list of unions the League negotiates with?  
  
Right now only 12% of the musicals on Broadway are directed by women - members of the stage directors union. There is just one women out of the eight nominations for a Tony for Scenic Design and two women out of the eight nominations for Best Lighting Design. Broadway designers are represented by United Scenic Artists. There are zero women nominated for Best Orchestrations whose nominees are all members of the Musicians Union. About half of the 40 or so Broadway casting directors seeking recognition from the League are women. In an industry notorious for its lack of women in top positions, it makes sense that the occupation with no benefits and low wages, the casting director, would have 50% women employed. When you think about it, these casting directors are presenting producers with an opportunity to creep towards greater gender parity on Broadway.

The Tony Awards are co-produced by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. As you watch the actors, directors and designers accept their Tony Awards on Sunday night, remember they all have a strong labor association behind them. Perhaps there has never been a Tony for casting because it would force producers to acknowledge the value and input casting directors have on their continued success and, like the other nominees, recognize and negotiate with the union which represents them.   


To support Broadway Casting Directors #fairnessforcasting 
-       


Thursday, June 8, 2017

WOMEN IN THEATRE FESTIVAL NYC

On June 3, 2017 I had the honor of performing ACT LIKE A FEMINIST ARTIST at the 2nd annual WOMEN IN THEATRE FESTIVAL produced by Project Y Theatre. 


Here's more about WIT from PROJECT Y Theatre

In an effort to broaden opportunities for women playwrights, Project Y Theatre Company has commissioned nine female playwrights in two separate productions, Great Againan evening of plays by Crystal Skillman and Chiori Miyagawa, and The Hrosthvitha Project, 7 adaptations of the 10th century female-written play “Dulcitius” written by playwrights Caridad Svich, Pia Wilson, Julienne Hairston, Michole Biancosino, Lia Romeo, Stacie Lents, and Erin Mallon.

How can you not love the fact that PROJECT Y wants to create #GenderParity in theatre by going #BeyondParity and flooding NYC with new plays by women, directed by women, supported by women-led companies, and featuring lots and lots of... yes, women actors! Kudos to co producers Michole Biancosino and Andrew W. Smith. 

With Project Y CO-Producer Michole Biancosino 
Join me in supporting this important festival -- Do not miss Great Again, an evening of plays in two parts: Test by Crystal Skillman (directed by Jessi Hill) and In the Line by Chiori Miyagawa (directed by Kristin Horton and choreographed by Sonoko Kawahara). Both plays were commissioned by Project Y Theatre Company and written as a response to the November 2016 election. Read a recent REVIEW



   For info about other events at the WOMEN IN THEATRE FESTIVAL click HERE OR check out their FACEBOOK PAGE!


            GLAD TO SEE SOME OLD FRIENDS AT #WITFESTNYC
 
With Laura Henry and Tara Rubin 


With fellow SUNY Brockport Alum, Richard Price 

From Los Angeles to Pomona and onward to next season...

And that's a wrap!  

"Act Like A Feminist Artist - a Guerrilla Girl Unmasks" 

2016/17 tour made stops from the US to the UK. 

Audiences from New York to Los Angeles to London to Flagstaff, Arizona found out what it's like to be a feminist masked avenger Guerrilla Girl! 


WRAPPING UP IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 

The 2016/17 tour came to a close in May when I headed to Southern California and had the privilege of speaking to the volunteers at Peace Over Violence in Los Angeles. These are the women and men who answer the LA Rape and Battery Hot Line, lead seminars in ending violence in classrooms and educate via sharing their own personal experiences. It was a very special evening for me to be back where I began my journey - in 1989 I began my training at Peace Over Violence as a volunteer on the Hot Line. You can read about how Patti Giggans of Peace Over Violence was a pivotal influence for me to wind up as an activist artist in UN/MASKED, Memoirs of a Guerrilla Girl On Tour. Thank you Patti and PEACE OVER VIOLENCE!


After Los Angeles I headed east to Cal Poly Pomona for a talk/reading/book signing and a poster making workshop. Feminist energy flowed as the 20 women in the workshop came up with great posters addressing the gentrification of our cities, body image and Trump. 
Cal Poly Pomona Activist/Artists

Here are a few drafts of the Cal Poly Pomona posters




I flew back to New York City just in time for the annual ASJA conference (American Society of Journalists and Authors.) If you write nonfiction, you should check out ASJA. It is an amazing organization with a lot of resources and support for writers. 

 


WHAT'S NEXT?  - "ACT LIKE A FEMINIST ARTIST" will be a part of the Women in Theatre Festival in NYC. For info click here.

NEXT SEASON IS SHAPING UP - Stay tuned - the 2017/2018 Tour will include stops in Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania

I'll be back in June with more announcements: Where you can find my new column on art and politics and the very first stop of the 2017/18 season. 


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ACT LIKE A FEMINIST ARTIST JUNE 3 in NYC

                             WOMEN IN THEATRE FESTIVAL PRESENTS

                             
                 ACT LIKE A FEMINIST ARTIST
                      a Guerrilla Girl Unmasks
                         SATURDAY, JUNE 3 at 3PM
                         
                          Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre
                                     A.R.T./New York Theatres
                        502 West 53rd Street (between 10th and 11th)
                                              New York City
                                       
                                          FREE 
                         Reservations Suggested:  Click here to reserve 

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a feminist masked avenger? Donna Kaz aka 
Aphra Behn, shares the story of her journey from survivor of domestic violence 
to radical activist and member of the Guerrilla Girls: feminist artists who never 
appear in public without wearing rubber gorilla masks and who go by the names 
of dead woman artists in order to uncover and reveal sexism in the performing 
art world. As the Guerrilla Girl Aphra Behn, Kaz created comedic performance art, 
street theatre and visual works that began both a dialogue and a pushback against discrimination in the theater world while proving feminists are funny at the same time. 
“Act Like A Feminist Artist” is an insiders look at what went behind the posters, 
protests, fax blitzes, speak outs and street theatre actions the Guerrilla Girls used 
to attack and expose sexism and racism in theatre. It includes readings from 
passages of Kaz’s new memoir, “UN/MASKED, Memoirs of a Guerrilla Girl On Tour. 
Get the inside scoop from a woman with two personas who takes off her mask and, 
by merging her identities, reveals all.  


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

WORLD BOOK DAY, NEW, INC., FEARLESS GIRL, and upcoming tours to LA and PAMONA!

April 18, 2017

Sunday April 23 is World Book Day! With Guerrilla Girls On Tour’s new foray into the world of books, we hope you will join us as we share why we #LoveToRead. From April 17 to the 23 post about why you #LoveToRead on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Share them here:

All week we will be posting about women authors and updates re UN/MASKED, Memoirs of aGuerrilla Girl On Tour by Aphra Behn


WEST COAST TOUR COMING UP:  Act Like a FeministArtist – A Guerrilla Girl Unmasks” at Cal Poly Pomona – May 3, 2017 at 3PM. Also check our FB page for an update about appearances in LA.
 

NEWS from our lunch at NEW,INC.!
On Friday, April 7th, Aphra Behn joined artist, Sophia Wallace, for an informal talk with the members of NEW, INC.,
founded by the New Museum in 2014 and the first museum-led cultural incubator dedicated to supporting innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship across art, design, and technology. Aphra shared the Guerrilla Girls On Tour’s tactics and herstory with members and mentors of NEW, INC. over lunch including a show-and-tell of the last remaining Guerrilla Girls “Spy Kit” – part of the Guerrilla Girls contribution to the 1999 New Museum’s exhibit UBRAN ENCOUNTERS. The GG “Spy Kit” included projects directed at the theatre world, i.e. a postcard to the  Roundabout Theatre suggesting they must be incredibly embarrassed about their lack of knowledge of women playwrights (because they did not produce any!) FYI, The Roundabout’s record on producing women lags far behind the rest of NYC theatres – out of 9 current plays only two are by women and only one is on their main stage. Sticker campaign anyone?

Guerrilla Girls' SPY KIT for URBAN ENCOUNTERS at the NEW MUSEUM 
The artist, Sophia Wallace, was Aphra’s co-presenter and her presentation of the evolution of her work was amazing, especially her Cliteracy Project. Please check out her web site for info on her and her work. You can watch her TEDx talk here: http://www.sophiawallace.com/tedx

Sophia Wallace and Aphra Behn
√ 

We feel the need to comment on Fearless Girlthe bronze sculpture by Kristen Visbal depicting a girl facing the well-known Charging Bull statue in the Financial District of Manhattan. Fearless Girl was commissioned on the first anniversary of State Street Global’s “Gender Diversity Index” fund, which has SHE as it’s NASDAQ ticker symbol. Next to Fearless Girl is a bronze plaque that reads: Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference. Yes, “SHE” makes a difference not “She” makes a difference. The statue’s placement was an advertisement for SHE. In the weeks that followed Fearless Girl’s installation, the sculptor of the “Charging Bull” statue (Arturo Di Modica) came out to insist she be removed because her presence changes the original intent of the bronze bull. An article by Greg Fallis supports Di Modica’s charge because, as he states in his blog post, Fearless Girl has appropriated the strength and power of Charging Bull.



Well…Fearless Girl may not have started as a work of guerrilla art...it is what it has become. Fallis writes "If it were placed anywhere else, Fearless Girl would still be a very fine statue — but without facing Charging Bull the Fearless Girl has nothing to be fearless to."  Um….yes she does -- Trump, the world, patriarchy are three I can think of off the top of my head. Fearless Girl is facing the symbol of a charging bull and that is what many women feel as thought they have been facing forever. I disagree she has nothing to be fearless to without the bull. She represents the attitude women have adopted to exist. Fearless Girl is a work of art that has morphed from her original intent - it is sort of cool how that happened. And for this reason, if you move her, she will still represent the same thing to many. So go ahead. We will remain inspired by her!

Until next time! Thank you for reading.

Love, Aphra Behn

Thursday, March 30, 2017

ACT LIKE A FEMINIST ARTIST in ARIZONA

Happy Women’s History Month!

March took the “UN/MASKED” tour to Flagstaff Arizona and the annual Women’s Conference at Northern Arizona University where I presented “ActLike a Feminist Artist – A Guerrilla Girl Unmasks.”

This checks Arizona off Guerrilla Girls On Tour’s US State list – we have now been to every state except Mississippi and Alaska.  (Head ups, all Mississippians and Alaskan feminists out there.)

San Francisco Peaks 

If you have never done it, drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff.  The drive takes about two hours and is a gradual gain of 6000 feet of elevation. The saguaro cacti of Phoenix give way as you come over a steep rise and the Bradshaw Mountains appear in the west. On the descent into Verde Valley the snow capped San Francisco peaks come into sight as well as the red rocks of Sedona. Gorgeous.


The NAU Women’s Conference is coordinated by the Associated Students for Women’s Issues and is well attended by the diverse and curious make up of NAU’s faculty and students. Over 100 people assembled in the auditorium of NAU’s Cline Library (one of the largest campus libraries I have ever been in). The stage was set with the traditional Guerrilla Girls On Tour props – water and bananas.  Since I was contractually not allowed to throw the bananas, one savvy theatre major in the third row offered to throw them for me. Thanks a bunch.   


My talk, “Act Like a Feminist Artist” has been morphing into a motivational lecture and the response to this new version was suburb. Kudos to that same theatre major for asking about how to “queer up” the theatre world.  Answer: Look for theatre companies that are already queering it up and go work with them. Example:  Oregon Shakespeare Festival which for the first time in their herstory will present 6 plays by women and a same sex couples version of “Oklahoma.” Then, continue to make the theatre you make and be prepared to endure for the long haul.


How does one act like a feminist artist, you might ask? Well, begin by embracing the truth. The Truth is the heart of good art and good activism. Artists are truth tellers.  We live in a world that is made up of facts and reality. These days, facts and reality are constantly challenged. So accept that there is a long road ahead. Be physically, mentally and emotionally strong. Workout, read, do yoga, drink tea, eat bananas, pour yourself a glass of wine - whatever it takes. Then, make sure you gather evidence. Do the GGOT 10-minute research technique – when you go to a gallery or museum count how many works by women they are presenting. This evidence is your weapon. Use it in your art.

For more tips on how to act like a feminist artist sign up for this blog. 

Thank you to all the fabulous feminists of Arizona who came to hear me speak.  Until we meet again.

LOVE,

Sunday, March 12, 2017

LOPATE, BROAD DESIGNS, BROCKPORT, BARNES and NOBLE

Updates from Aphra Behn and the book tour of “UN/MASKED, Memoirs of aGuerrilla Girl On Tour

Late February was cold and snowy in Manhattan but the news that I would be interviewed on the Leonard Lopate Show brought warmth. My fabulous indie publicist, Michelle Blankenship, accompanied me to the WNYC offices in lower Manhattan. 

With Michelle Blankenship
Armed with my rubber gorilla mask and a banana for Leonard I entered the studio. Lopate immediately took the banana from my hand and tried to talk into it. That put me right at ease. My 20 minute interview flew by. A great conversationalist, Lopate has the knack to flip topics as quickly as the GOP offers up changes to Obamacare. We talked not only on air but before and after the interview.


My favorite subjects were rubber masks, sticker campaigns and getting the opportunity to decry the current lack of plays by women on Broadway.  But do not despair as works by Paula Vogel and Lynn Nottage are coming soon.  Leonard doesn’t say goodbye – his producer has to come in and let him know time is up. Listen to my interview HERE

On the Leonard Lopate Show











February also brought me new friends from down under – the wonderful feminists of the Australian radio show on feminism and design - BROAD DESIGNS - broadcast on  JOY 94.9.  

Jane Connory and Sonja Hammer of BROAD DESIGNS
The funny and sharp (and mask wearing!) Jane Connory and Sonja Hammer talked with me via phone for a broadcast which aired on International Women’s Day.  LISTEN HERE: 

As some of you know, in my book I describe my journey to identifying as a feminist. It was a BOOK that brought me to feminism – “OurBodies, Ourselves” which I picked up at the Main Street Bookstore in Brockport New York, my sophomore year in college.  This week I was featured in the Brockport Alum spotlight. Read it here: 


If you have not been to a new Barnes and Noble lately check them out. Some of the new stores now have a very comfortable and welcoming area as you walk into the store where wine, beer, hot drinks and food are served. Settle down with a donut and a cup of joe as you flip through your favorite newspaper. I was the first author booked to read at the B & N inEastchester - or I should say their first writer who wrote for adults.  Thank you Barnes and Nobel for making your bookstore a place you can spend hours in.
UN/MASKED display at Barnes and Noble Eastchester 
NEXT! The IDES OF MARCH - Aphra Behn mails postcards to Trump and talks on the LIVING WELL SHOW, March 15, 2017.

I will be at Northern Arizona University with ACT LIKE AFEMINIST ARTIST on March 25 at 2PM.  – if you are in the area please attend.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Venus Theatre Lifetime Achievement Award


Deb Randall of Venus Theatre with Aphra Behn 

On February 7, 2017 Aphra Behn presented "Act Like a Feminist Artist" at Venus Theatre in Laurel, MD.  Venus awarded Aphra with their Lifetime Achievement Award. 


DC NOW was a co-sponsor of the evening.

Aphra made a short speech. 
Here is what she really wanted to say....

Dear Deb Randall and Venus Theatre,
I applaud you for keeping the voices of women alive for so many years. I salute your bravery in producing season after season of work by women. I admire your perseverance, your style, your grace. I acknowledge your struggle and the struggle of all the women who have gone before you and remain behind via the love that refuses to die. I promise to keep fighting, to keep enduring and to keep advocating on behalf of women in theatre.  We are theatre. We are.




THANK YOU VENUS