Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Iconic queer theater duo Split Britches returns for timely show

La MaMa in association with Split Britches, the legendary pairing of Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw, presents the New York premiere of Last Gasp: A Recalibration.

In early 2020, Shaw and Weaver, two icons of lesbian-feminist theatre, set out to present Last Gasp, a live performance questioning demise: the demise of aging bodies, civil conversations, and a sustainable planet. The pandemic arrived and knocked the breath out of us, as did a period of civil unrest that marched under the banner of ‘I can’t breathe.’ The ironies were not lost as the duo locked down, stayed in and continued their investigations resulting in a Zoom recording, Last Gasp WFH.

Photos: Nas Simsek

Last GaspA Recalibration lands somewhere between the realms of the live and the virtual, present and absent, between staying home and venturing out, the piece combines spoken word, movement and Zoom technology to respond to the world we now find ourselves in. It gathers us in the same room but not as the same people. Reworking Last Gasp WFH for the physical stage, Shaw and Weaver unpick what it means to be in a theatre, and what it means to perform. With episodes entitled ‘The Trump in Me’ and ‘How to Set a Table in an Emergency’, the legendary performance duo brings us together to recalibrate – we are not coming to an end but finding strategies for moving on.

The show is on from October 14 – 30, 2022 at the Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa, 66 E. 4th Street, NYC. Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for students and seniors, and the first ten tickets for every performance are $10. There will also be a special event featuring cocktails and an intimate discussion moderated by theatre scholar Benjamin Gillespie (Baruch College, CUNY) on October 18 at 6pm. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call 646-430-5374.

Last Call: Cocktails and Conversation with Split Britches 

Introduced and moderated by Benjamin Gillespie, Tuesday, October 18, 2022 | 6-9pm 

Join Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver and their collaborators for cocktails and an intimate discussion about the duo’s latest performance, Last Gasp: A Recalibration. The evening will include a presentation from the current book project anthologizing more than a decade of work by Split Britches. 

Last Gasp: A Recalibration  was created in collaboration with Lois Weaver, Peggy Shaw, Nao Nagai, Vivian Stoll and Morgan Thorson.

About the Artists

Lois Weaver is an artist, activist and Professor of Contemporary Performance Practice at Queen Mary, University of London. She is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow and a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow for 2016-2018. Lois was co-founder of Spiderwoman Theater, WOW Theatre in NYC and Artistic Director of Gay Sweatshop in London. She has been a writer, director and performer with Peggy Shaw and Split Britches since 1980. Recent performances include Unexploded Ordnances (2016-18); What Tammy Needs to Know About Getting Old and Having Sex (2015); and RUFF (2012). Her experiments in performance as a means of public engagement include Long Tables, Porch Sittings, Care Cafes and her facilitating persona, Tammy WhyNot. Lois’s performance practice and history has been documented and illustrated in The Only Way Home Is Through the Show: Performance Works of Lois Weaver, eds. Lois Weaver and Jen Harvie, published in 2015 by Intellect and the Live Art Development Agency.

Peggy Shaw is a performer, writer, producer and teacher of writing and performance. She co-founded Split Britches and WOW Café Theatre in NYC. She is a veteran of Hot Peaches and Spiderwoman. She is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, and a 2014 recipient of the Doris Duke Artist and 2016 USA Arts Award. In 2017, Peggy was awarded an honorary doctorate from Queen Mary University of London for her contribution to theatre and the institution. Peggy has received three NYFA Fellowships and three OBIE Awards. She was the recipient of the 1995 Anderson Foundation Stonewall Award and Foundation for Contemporary Arts Theatre Performer of the Year Award in 2005. Her book A Menopausal Gentleman, edited by Jill Dolan and published by Michigan Press, won the 2012 Lambda Literary Award for LBGT Drama. Peggy was the 2011 recipient of the Ethyl Eichelberger Award for the creation of RUFF, a musical collaboration that explores her experiences of having a stroke. 

About Split Britches

Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw are co-founders of Split Britches. Since 1980, they have created an interconnected repertoire of performance and social engagement work, which is part of a larger, lifelong project to facilitate communication, wellness, and social change through performance. Recent projects include Ruff (2013), a performance exploring the experiences of having a stroke; Unexploded Ordnances (2018), a combination of performance and public conversation on subjects of anxiety, aging, and unexplored potential; and Last Gasp (2020). Over the 40 years, they also remain committed to collaborating with diverse communities. This manifests in the founding of WOW Café in NY; developing projects in domestic abuse safe houses in upstate NY and in LGBTQ+ communities in Minneapolis; collaborating with seniors on a performance about sex and aging; working in women’s prisons in Brazil and the UK: developing performance with Taiwan Women’s Theatre Festival and creating therapeutic workshops for stroke survivors.

Split Britches’ collection of scripts, Split Britches Feminist Performance/Lesbian Practice, edited by Sue Ellen Case, won the 1997 Lambda Literary Award for Drama. In 2012, Split Britches was presented with the Edwin Booth Award by City University of New York in honor of their outstanding contribution to the New York City/American Theater and Performance Community. Both Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw are Guggenheim Fellows and Peggy was the recipient of the Doris Duke and USA Artist Awards.

Lois and Peggy were named Senior Fellows by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance in 2014, an award given to scholars, artists and activists affiliated with the institute whose work illustrates the highest achievement in the field of performance and politics. The company received a 2017 NY Innovative Theatre Award and the 2022 Ellen Stewart Career Achievement in Professional Theatre Award.

About La MaMa

A recipient of the 2018 Regional Theater Tony Award, more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has been a creative home for thousands of artists, and resident companies, many of whom have made lasting contributions to the arts, including Blue Man Group, Bette Midler, Ed Bullins, Ping Chong, Jackie Curtis, André De Shields, Adrienne Kennedy, Harvey Fierstein, Diane Lane, Playhouse of the Ridiculous, Tom Eyen, Pan Asian Rep, Spiderwoman Theater, Tadeusz Kantor, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Mabou Mines, Meredith Monk, Peter Brook, David and Amy Sedaris, Julie Taymor, Kazuo Ohno, Tom O’Horgan, and Andy Warhol. La MaMa’s vision of nurturing new artists and new work from all nations, cultures, races and identities remains as strong today as it was when Ellen Stewart first opened the doors in 1961. 

Queer Forty Staff

Queer Forty writing staff work hard to bring you all the latest articles to help inspire and inform.

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