Books

Here you can find books that feature various writings by Split Britches.  Titles are organized by most recent date and include basic publication information (author/editor, summary of content, and cover image).  While these books can be purchased online, we encourage you to support your local bookstore or check them out from your public library!

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A Menopausal Gentleman:  The Solo Performances of Peggy Shaw (2011) Edited by Jill Dolan

Obie-award-winning performer and writer Peggy Shaw has been playing her gender-bending performances on Off Broadway, regional, and international stages for three decades. Co-founder of the renowned troupe Split Britches, Shaw has gone on to create memorable solo performances that mix achingly honest introspection with campy humor, reflecting on everything from her Irish-American working-class roots to her aging butch body.

This collection of Shaw’s solo performance scripts evokes a 54-year-old grandmother who looks like a 35-year-old man (in her classic Menopausal Gentleman); a mother’s ambivalent ministrations to a daughter she treated like a son (in the raw You’re Just Like My Father); Shaw’s love for her biracial grandson, for whom she models masculinity (in the musically punctuated To My Chagrin); and a mapping of her body’s long, bittersweet history (in the lyrical Must: The Inside Story, a collaboration with the UK’s Clod Ensemble).

The book also includes a selection of Shaw’s other classic monologues and an extensive introduction by Jill Dolan, Professor of English and Theater and Dance at Princeton University and the blogger behind The Feminist Spectator website.

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Theatre and Audience (2009) by Helen Freshwater with a Forward by Lois Weaver

What does theatre do for, and to, those who witness, watch, and participate in it? Theatre and Audience provides a provocative overview of the questions raised by theatrical encounters between performers and audiences. Focusing on European and North American theatre and its audiences in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, it explores belief in theatre’s potential to influence, impact and transform. Illustrated by examples of performance which have sought to generate active audience involvement, the text seeks to unsettle any simple equation between audience participation and empowerment.

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The Applied Theatre Reader (2008) Edited by Tim Prentki and Shelia Preston

The Applied Theatre Reader is the first book to bring together new case studies of practice by leading practitioners and academics in the field and beyond, with classic source texts from writers such as Noam Chomsky, bell hooks, Mikhail Bakhtin, Augusto Boal, and Chantal Mouffe.

This book divides the field into key themes, inviting critical interrogation of issues in applied theatre whilst also acknowledging the multi-disciplinary nature of its subject.

It crosses fields such as:  Theatre in educational settings; Prison theatre; Community performance; Theatre in conflict resolution and reconciliation; Interventionist theatre;
Theatre for development.

This collection of critical thought and practice is essential to those studying or participating in the performing arts as a means for positive change.

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Staging International Feminisms (2007) Edited by Elaine Aston and Sue-Ellen Case

Staging International Feminisms is a landmark anthology of international feminist theatre research – the first publication of its kind to bring feminist critical attention to theatre, theory, activism and performance in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South Americas.

A three-part structure orientates readers through Cartographies of feminist critical navigations of the global arena; the staging of feminist Interventions in a range of international contexts; and Manifestos for today’s feminist practitioners, activists and academics.

Bringing together wide-ranging, accessible and lively contributions from feminist critics, writers and practitioners of international repute, Staging International Feminisms argues the necessity and urgency for feminism to be at work internationally, and is essential reading for all those with an interest in theatre, performance, cultural studies and women’s studies.

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Cast Out:  Queer Lives in Theater (2006) Edited by Robin Bernstein

Cast Out is a collection of memoirs and interviews by twenty-two leading performers, playwrights, technicians, producers, critics, educators, and passionate spectators.

It offers a backstage pass to the personal and creative lives of some of the most important and influential theater artists of the past fifty years: Edward Albee discusses the homophobic critical attacks he endured in the 50s and 60s; Cherry Jones talks about the first time she accepted a Tony Award—and her decision, in that moment, to come out; Peggy Shaw speaks of the drag queen who first inspired her stage career; Craig Lucas issues an impassioned call for theater practitioners and other artists to unite for the sake of art, creativity, and social change.

Also included are memoirs by and interviews with Kate Bornstein, Lisa Kron, Tim Miller, and George C. Wolfe, among others. These diverse voices dispel the cliché of theater as a “safe haven” and replace the stereotype with a nuanced group portrait of the ways in which theater and queerness intersect.

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Guerilla Performance and Multimedia (2001) Edited by Leslie Hill and Helen Paris

Guerilla Performance and Multimedia is written by artists, for artists. It is designed for the benefit of artists engaged in creating original performance and multimedia work, including live art, installation, digital art and hybrids of theatre and visual art. Although there is no ‘how to’ in performance, no clearly defined ‘industry’ as such around the art form, this book stares unflinchingly into the headlights of the oncoming question: how do you make a living as an artist?  This book offers an invaluable collection of individual experiences, unique strategies, and practical advice of dozens of veteran artists, arts administrators and related professionals.

In Guerilla Performance and Multimedia, artists such as Bobby Baker, Tim Miller, Guillermo Gomez Pena, Rachel Rosenthal, Stelarc, Lois Weaver and Martha Wilson share their adventures, tactics and tips. Founders and directors of art organizations and festivals such as Franklin Furnace, Artsadmin, the Cleveland Performance Art Festival and the Banff Centre relate their experiences of producing and commissioning work internationally. Senior advisors from major funding bodies such as London Arts and the Arts Council of England offer generous, detailed pointers on preparing strong grant applications.

Production issues for theatre, gallery, video, web and CD are addressed by experts who give concise practical advice relating to different venues and formats. Marketing, publicity and documentation are also thoroughly addressed by pros. Professionals in related fields give the inside scoop on the crucial concerns of starting a company, preparing accounts and tax information and staying on the right side of entertainment law. This unparalleled collection of professional and artistic experience provides the definitive guide to making a living as an artist.

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Mythic Women/Real Women: Plays and Performance Pieces by Women (2000) Edited by Lizbeth Goodman

In Mythic Women/Real Women, Lizbeth Goodman has carefully gathered a collection of plays, monologues, poems, and other performance pieces around the notion of real women–both historical and contemporary–and mythic women–icons such as Mary, Medea, and Medusa–to illustrate the ever-shifting perceptions of sexuality and femininity at the turn of the millennium. Goodman’s comprehensive overview illustrates the diversity of form and content in the works, exploring the relationship between gender and power.

Included are an excerpt from Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls, which depicts Marlene, a high-flying and ruthless career girl who power-dresses in Margaret Thatcher’s signature blue and dedicates herself to climbing the rungs of the social and business ladder; Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl,” about a young girl’s efforts to understand the coded instructions passed down to her about appropriate feminine behavior; and Ali Smith’s “Trace of Arc,” which examines the enigmatic Joan of Arc in a comic context when the Maid of Orleans appears as the conscience of two young supermarket clerks.

With selections ranging from the poetic to the erotic to the uproariously funny, Mythic Women/Real Women considers the many ways in which women are looked at and look at themselves, both in writing and in performance.

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Acts of Passion: Sexuality, Gender and Performance (1998) Edited by Maya Chowdry and Nina Rapi

The first volume to focus exclusively on lesbian performance work, Acts of Passion: Sexuality, Gender, and Performance draws on the experiences and expertise of a wide range of lesbian practitioners and theorists to explore the impact and influences of sexuality and gender on performance. It examines essays, dialogues, and performance texts from theater directors, performers, theorists, playwrights, and performance writers against social and cultural constructs and performance theories to produce a diverse and challenging portrait of lesbian live performance art. The book’s penetrating scope covers drag queens, lesbian vampires, representations of lesbian sex, solo artists, the art of collaboration, lesbian aesthetics, and lesbian playwrights writing straight and illustrates why live performance is one of the most dynamic forums in which women can create, control, and produce their work without artistic constraint.

Acts of Passion explodes binary definitions of gender and sexuality by destabilizing familiar notions of the ‘real’and creating new production values and aesthetics in the process. The relationships between experience and expression, sexuality and cultural placing, context and artistic control, representation and self-representation become clearer as the book progresses.

Anyone interested in theater and performance, cultural studies, gender issues, and the politics of ‘positive representation’–whether playwright, performer, director, writer, academic, student, or theatre goer–will find Acts of Passion a powerful step in wrenching the power of representation away from the dominant culture. Defiant, saucy, sexy, and smart, the contributors appropriate their own spaces, identities, crafts, and languages, both within this book and without.

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O SOLO HOMO (1998) Edited by Holly Hughes

Gays and lesbians have always taken front and center stage in the theater. From Shakespeare’s cross-dressing love interests to Oscar Wilde’s witty comedies of mismanners to Eva Le Gallienne and Mary Martin’s portrayals of the androgynous Peter Pan, homosexuality and gender blending have found many manifestation in theater.

In the mid-1980s, as the New York performance-art scene began to flourish, scores of queer artists launched careers in tiny storefronts, church basements, and empty lofts. By breaking down traditional ideas of “acting,” and by being unafraid of dealing with queer sexual content, they changed the style, form, and substance of alternative and mainstream theater.

O Solo Homo is a collection of scripts and texts by the most important of these performers. Some of the material is overtly sexual, as in Tim Miller’s “Naked Breath” or Holly Hughes’s slyly titled “Clit Notes.” But the performers are often as interested in politics and culture as in sex. The late Ron Vawter’s exploration of art, betrayal, and the cult of personality in “Roy Cohn/Jack Smith” is brilliant, and Peggy Shaw’s treatise on what it means to be butch in a world that celebrates manliness in “You’re Just Like My Father” is both deeply shocking and hilarious.

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The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance (1998) Edited by Lizbeth Goodman

The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance presents some of the most influential and widely-known work on gender and performing arts, together with exciting and provocative new writings in the field.

This comprehensive volume reviews women’s contributions to theatre history and examines how theatre has represented women over the centuries. The reader is introduced to major theoretical approaches, and more complex questions about gender, the body and cross-dressing. Taking a thoroughly international perspective, this book provides material on gender in the theatre of several countries, including post-apartheid South Africa and post-communist Russia.  This first collection in the field covers:  Women’s stage work; Women’s bodies on stage; Feminist approaches; Comparative perspectives; Women’s status in the theatre; Reception and reviewing

The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance reviews ways in which sexuality has been explored and expressed in new forms of performance art and dance. The articles are arranged systematically to guide the reader from topic to topic, and specially linked articles by scholars and teachers explain key issues and put the extracts in context.

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Split Britches: Lesbian Practice/Feminist Performance (1996) Edited by Sue Ellen Case

Since the late ’70s, the Split Britches theater company, comprised of Lois Weaver, Peggy Shaw, and Deborah Margolin have been making lesbian-feminist theater in the United States and Europe. This book collects several of the troupe’s texts, among them “Beauty and the Beast,” “Upwardly Mobile Home,” and “Little Women,” arch, post-modern retakes on cultural icons. Case’s astute introduction traces the history of this first and most important theater group as it both reflects and creates the thought of feminist art of the last 20 years.

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Women & Performance:  The Women and Theatre Program  (1989)

Women & Performance was founded in 1983 by graduate students in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.  The journal publishes interdisciplinary feminist scholarship on performance, broadly construed.

Since its inception the journal has operated as a feminist collective.  Faculty and graduate students from a variety of disciplines volunteer their time and collectively edit each issue of Women & Performance.  The Editorial Collective meets monthly in New York City, and is open to anyone interested in participating.  Please contact us if you would like more information.

After self-publishing for 23 years, Women & Performance was acquired by Routledge, Taylor & Francis.  With each issue we continue our mission of extending and reformulating notions of gender and performance.

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