Q: "What do toilet stalls and the Tony Awards have in common?"
A: "They only let in one woman at a time."
This dada-esque bon mot comes to you courtesy of the New York-based feminist performance group the Guerrilla Girls. Members "Aphra Behn" and "Lorraine Hansberry" wrote and star in the troupe's first theater piece, the vaudevillian "History of Women in American Theatre: Part I, The Writers," which premieres at UCLA this week.
The Guerrilla Girls formed in 1985 to protest the underrepresentation of women in the visual arts. Its gorilla-masked members eschew real names in favor of monikers that honor pioneering female artists. Their motto: "We could be anyone. We are everywhere." Aphra Behn, named for an English Restoration playwright, explains her induction into the group thusly: "I got a call from 'Gertrude Stein,' who said, 'I hear you might want to be a Guerrilla Girl.' " Other members include "Joan of Arc" and "Lee Krasner," while "Frida Kahlo" helped develop the group's Web site in 1991. Sidewalk protests outside Broadway playhouses during the past year have won them sobriquets such as "Quota Queens" and "Masked Avengers of Broadway" from detractors in the theater community.
So far, no men have been allowed into Guerrilla Girls, but there are male support workers called "Baboon Boys." What's next? It appears to be the film world. The group already has a poster: "The Anatomically Correct Oscar--He's white and male, just like the guys who win!"
"HISTORY OF WOMEN IN AMERICAN THEATRE: PART I, THE WRITERS," A.S.K. THEATER PROJECT'S COMMON GROUND FESTIVAL AT UCLA'S NORTH CAMPUS, 8 P.M., JUNE 22; 7 P.M., JUNE 24. FREE. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. (310) 478-9ASK.