Without apologies, excuses, or explanations, I hereby reboot Drama, Daily. It’s time, I think.
A thread of my current research involves the feminist zine APHRA, named in honor of the first professional woman writer Aphra Behn (1640-1689). The magazine was launched in the fall of 1969 and appeared quarterly in six volumes until it shuttered in 1976 due to funding issues. Founded by editor Elizabeth Fisher (1925-1982), associate editor Gerry Sachs (about whom I can’t uncover anything), and public relations consultant Jacqueline Ceballos (1925-), a prominent figure in National Organization for Women (NOW), the magazine sought to center female representation and foster female identification. To my knowledge, the existence, let alone significance, of this zine has not yet registered with scholars of Behn. Or perhaps it has, and I’ve missed the reference. Or perhaps it has, and they found it unremarkable because too fringe. Whatever the case, the magazine’s namesake attests to the grass roots recovery Behn was already experiencing when the Women’s Liberation Movement was really just beginning; moreover, it demonstrates the practical importance of historical role models to second wave feminist activists. The magazine features criticism, essays, plays, poetry, prose by women writers, many of whom already had or went on to have noteworthy writing and/or academic careers, including Margaret Atwood, Rita Mae Brown, Myrna Lamb, Joan Larkin, Marge Piercy, Catherine Stimpson, and Alice Walker. ‘APHRA-isms,’ a recurring section in each issue, offers a bricolage of quotes, some old, some new, some frankly feminist, others distinctly anti-feminist, all thought-provoking. The inaugural issue establishes this section’s aim: “To counter the prevailing male viewpoint with the proper hysterical perspective.” The assortment of quotes in the first issue demonstrates the section’s eclectic feminist spirit with excerpts ranging from Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman” speech (1851), John Stuart Mill’s “The Subjection of Women” (1869), and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “Eighty Years or More” (1898) to Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” (1929) and the gender and racial pay gap findings from the 1969 U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Report. As we wade through another moment of feminist crisis, I wonder how Behn and other historic women, LGBTQ, and BIPOC artists will return to inspire us, today’s artists and activists, and to warn us, once again, of history’s disturbing continuities.