Elaine Magree Asserts Queer History for All!
by Evelyn Arevalo
TheatreFirst’s new project, called “History Keeps Me Awake: Queer Voices in Repertory.” One show is titled “A One Man Show” written and performed by Skyler Cooper.” I saw “PussyGrabbingREVENGE” written and performed by Elaine Magree–with tremendous authenticity and style.
Magree revives queer history in her astounding stories as a dyke activist in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. We learn how radicalism, justice, and resistance can blossom into survival in oppressive times, then and now.
Magree recounts how children were pressured to conform to “correct” gender roles. She was taught that “football” and “penis” both signify “male” for boys.
Like a lingering scent, Magree shows how the past shapes our futures. Surrounded by Trump’s chanting “grab her by the pussy,” she looks tiny and defenseless. But this slim woman, who periodically dons a flower printed apron, is anything but silent. She’s hungry for justice, and gets angry when she relives bad male behavior.
In her raw, visceral solo performance, Elaine Magree describes a childhood where she was tagged as a “little mistake of a girl.” She rejected dolls, refusing to play with a toy kitchen and ironing board. We want to hug her, as her eyes search the audience for compassion for that child from the past.
Magree dishes up hearty sides of humor to nourish us. Her humor, like ‘bad dad’ jokes, hits the mark. Consider this beauty: “What does one saggy boob say to another? If we don’t get support soon, people will think we are nuts.” Magree dares to cross that boundary, too!
This powerful woman uses bitter humor to heal deep wounds. She finds a way to survive–from sexual harassment at work to women being assaulted and raped. The laughter allows us to digest grisly details. Even more astounding, she tells stories of women sharing risk when a man continually harasses a group of tradeswomen.
They gang up on the “man who won’t take no for an answer.” With great ingenuity, the women create an impromptu phone tree to stop this guy’s predatory behavior. One woman calls another five, so in the end the man is confronted by a dozen angry women with power tools!
Magree’s stories span 60 years of queer history. She lets us know that Feminism is an ongoing project. We’re not through rising, yet! Join her movement because the Time is Now!
“PussyGrabbingREVENGE” by Elaine Magree, directed by Susannah Martin, by TheatreFirst, at Waterfront Playhouse, 2020 Fourth Street, Berkeley, through Saturday, March 7, 2020. Info: theatrefirst.com
Cast: Elaine Magree
Banner photo: Skyler Cooper & Elaine Magree