‘Last night, I dreamt I was Miss America . . . and I was very, very happy.’
- Peggy Shaw
‘. . . and sometimes I do . . . miss America.’
- Lois Weaver
In their newest duet, MISS AMERICA, Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver turn their unapologetic critique and riotous humor loose on the dissolution of the American Dream. A beauty pageant on a landfill full of too much information in the midst of a giant storm, MISS AMERICA exposes what is lost in a society that is still hopelessly clinging to winning.
Shaw and Weaver (veterans of Hot Peaches and Spiderwoman Theater), together with Deb Margolin, founded Split Britches in 1981. Split Britches was last seen in New York in the 25th Anniversary revival of Dress Suits To Hire at La MaMa in 2005. Co-founders of NYC's WOW Cafe (an outgrowth of the WOW International Theater Festivals of 1980 and 1981), Shaw and Weaver have become known for "a long line of smart, thrillingly well-executed performance pieces" (Katherine Dieckmann, Village Voice) and "tough intellectual and verbal content (John Hammond, The Native). Peggy Shaw has received Obie Awards for performance in 1987 for Dress Suits To Hire and in 1999 for Menopausal Gentleman. They both earned Obies for ensemble acting in Belle Reprieve (1991), a collaboration with Bloolips that was a reversed-gender version of "A Streetcar Named Desire." They created Lesbians Who Kill (1993), a satirical work on violent fantasies, Lust and Comfort (1995), a play set in London in the '50s which addressed sterility and complacency in long-term relationships and the urge to reinvent desire, and Salad of the Bad Cafe (2000), a collaboration with performance artist Stacy Makishi that was inspired by Carson McCullers' novel "Ballad of the Sad Cafe" and the lives of Tennessee Williams and Yukio Mishima. Shaw and Weaver also create solo, largely autobiographical shows and performance intervention. Shaw's You're Just Like My Father (1994) was an autobiographical work on growing up Butch in the 1950s. Weaver's Faith and Dancing: mapping femininity and other natural disasters (1997) was a work about growing up a femme dyke in Baptist Virginia. Peggy’s recent performance work includes To My Chagrin (2001) in collaboration with Vivian Stoll, a rock and roll tribute to cars, masculinity, and raising a dual heritage grandson as a grand butch-mother. Lois is currently touring with What Tammy Needs to Know and Diary of a Domestic Terrorist.
MISS AMERICA has movement by Stormy Brandenberger, original music and sound design by Vivian Stoll, lighting design by Jan Bell and photographs by Lori E. Seid.
This production is funded in part by New York State Council on the Arts
and The Rockefeller MAP Fund.
Peggy Shaw is an actor, writer and producer. She co-founded The Split Britches Theater Company with Lois Weaver and The WOW Café in New York City. She has received three OBIE Awards for her work with Split Britches - for performances in Dress Suits To Hire, Belle Reprieve and Menopausal Gentleman. She also played Billy Tipton in the American Place production of Carson Kreitzer’s The Slow Drag. Peggy is currently touring her show To My Chagrin, which she created through a Rockefeller Map Grant in collaboration with musician and sound designer Vivian Stoll, directed by Lois Weaver. Split Britches are a part of Staging Human Rights, where they work in prisons in Rio De Janeiro and England. They are associate artists on the Clod Ensembles Performing Medicine project-creating workshops on gender and difference for medical students and health professionals. As part of this project Peggy has made a new piece, in collaboration with The Clod Ensemble, Must; poetically examining the inside of her aging queer body, which she is performing and touring in lecture and anatomy theaters. Peggy has been a collaborator, writer and performer with Spiderwoman Theater and Hot Peaches Theater. She co-founded the OBIE Award winning WOW Café in 1980. Peggy won the New York Foundation for the Arts Award for Emerging Forms in 1988, 1995 and 1999, and 2005; she also won the 1995 Anderson Foundation Stonewall Award for “excellence in making the world a better place for gays and lesbians ” and a 2003 Otto Rene Castillo Award for Political Theatre. The Foundation for Contemporary Performance recently awarded Peggy with Theatre Performer of the Year 2005. Michigan Press will publish a new book on Peggy, edited by Jill Dolan, which will include the scripts for her three solo shows You’re Just Like My Father, Menopausal Gentleman and To My Chagrin. She was awarded a NYSCA Individual Artist Grant for writing Miss America, and a MAP FUND grant for producing it at LaMaMa. Peggy is a freelance teacher of writing and performance around the world.
Lois Weaver lectures in Contemporary Performance at Queen Mary University of London and is an independent performance artist, director and activist. She was co-founder of Spiderwoman Theatre and the WOW Theatre in New York and Artistic Director of Gay Sweatshop Theatre in London. She has been a performer, director, and writer with the Split Britches Company since 1980. Her interests include live art, solo performance, feminist and lesbian theatre and performance and human rights. She was involved in Staging Human Rights, a People's Palace Project initiative that uses performance practice to explore human rights in women’s prisons in Brazil and the UK. She collaborated with Curious on two projects: On The Scent, an investigation of the relationship between smell and memory and Lost and Found, a human portrait of urban regeneration. She was director and dramaturge for Peggy Shaw's To My Chagrin and Holly Hughes’ Preaching To The Perverted. Lois was Artistic Director for Performing Rights, an international conference and festival on the themes of performance and human rights held in London in 2006 and is Producing Director for East End Collaborations, an annual platform for emerging live artists. She is currently principal investigator on Democratising Technology, a research project that uses performance techniques to initiate conversations on technology design. Lois tours with the Library of Performing Rights and What Tammy Needs To Know and is developing a new performance entitled Diary of a Domestic Terrorist.