The Women’s Cranky came to Austin courtesy of the Women’s Street Theater from the Bay Area in 1970. The instructions and graphics were published and distributed by People’s Press in San Francisco, California. The Women’s Street Theater described the cranky this way:
A cranky is a paper movie or cartoon sequence inside a simple wooden frame. The moving paper roll unwinds (is cranked) onto a take-up reel, enabling you to tell a story with a minimum number of words and maximum number of strong images. THIS cranky is a brief history of women’s oppression and struggles. About how the myth of women’s inferiority began and has been perpetuated to oppress us, and about how women are refusing to submit to that HIS-STORY any longer. We, the Women’s Street Theater, wanted to share the script and directions… with all our sisters. …It’s been great at rallies, small meetings, in parks, on the back of flat bed trucks, and on the marble steps of the Pacific Stock Exchange. People love it. They laugh, get involved, and have always been eager to discuss it afterwards.
Here is how the Cranky starts:
In the beginning [Cymbal clash followed by tambourine shake about 5 seconds]
Women were ALWAYS pregnant
The cranky was low-tech media. It took more time to draw the images onto a scroll of butcher paper than it takes to shoot and post a You Tube video. But it was a great device for introducing women’s liberation to a crowd. It was performed in the Student Union at the University of Texas at Austin, at the Oleo Strut GI coffeehouse in Killeen, Texas and many other places. With its compelling graphics and easy script, it made for lively street theater. It only took a handful of women – two to crank the story along, one to read, and the others to produce sound effects with tambourines, pots and pans, and kazoos. It should be remembered for its no-software, no-electricity-required, means of production. It never failed to draw a crowd and get them laughing along with a radical message about women’s liberation.