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Alumni Spotlight - Donna Kaz '76

 

Donna Kaz '76
Donna's major: Theatre
Discover more about Donna.

Donna Kaz ’76 is a College at Brockport alumna who addresses “women’s identity and place in the world” through her talents in writing and theatre. She does this above and beneath the gorilla mask that lies upon her head. A gorilla mask? Yes, the obvious and proud sign of a woman involved in the activist group known as the Guerrilla Girls. Kaz has been passionately involved in issues of gender discrimination and is working to make a positive change in society.

Kaz published a nonfiction memoir titled, UN/MASKED, Memoirs of a Guerrilla Girl on Tour (Skyhorse) in November of 2016. The memoir describes her journey as an artist, activist, and feminist. Using an array of witty humor, Kaz tells many stories about her life as a guerilla girl. Her fateful path toward art and activism had only just begun during freshman orientation at The College at Brockport.

With an affinity for theatre and dance, Kaz enrolled in Brockport’s theatre program during her first semester. Throughout her undergraduate years, she filled several roles in theatre productions at the College and studied under a number of professors who influenced her growth as an artist, including Garth Fagan, who choreographed The Lion King.

She describes the department's innovative operations in an excerpt from her memoir: “SUNY Brockport had almost two hundred theatre majors and in the ’70s was led by Professor Joe Talarowski, a kind and generous man whose office door was always open. Housed in a wing of the Tower Fine Arts Building, the department boasts four slick main-stage productions a year. With a full costume shop, construction shop, black-box theatre, several rehearsal studios, a green room, and a gorgeous four-hundred seat theatre with a fly and wing space, the department is one of SUNY’s best. On the faculty is the acclaimed experimental theatre historian E. T. Kirby.”

After being awarded the Department of Theatre’s highest honor in 1976, the special award for performance, Kaz moved straight to New York City to begin her career. She moved to the big city with the fire to make a change for women in theater. In her memoir, she addresses issues of gender inequality, promising to “push against it” through her work.

Kaz is the author of six plays, has been featured in countless magazines, and created 25 street theater actions, stickers, posters, and performances with the Guerilla Girls, a group she joined in 1997. In 2001, the group split, but she carried on the legacy and became the artistic director of ‘Guerilla Girls on Tour!’ This group focused on addressing social issues with humor, a unique yet successful approach. Kaz wrote and performed in many plays, including Feminists are Funny and Silence is Violence. Kaz and the ‘Guerilla Girls on Tour!’ have performed and presented more than 200 times in 46 states and 17 countries.

Today, Kaz continues to influence social issues as a theatre director and writer — even without her gorilla mask.

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*Alumni spotlights are written by student communication interns in the College's Division of Advancement. With questions, please email aloria@brockport.edu.*