Lois Weaver: The Book, by Lois Weaver & Jen Harvie

A major publication by Lois Weaver and Jen Harvie dedicated to the work and life of pioneering feminist performance maker Lois Weaver.

Lois Weaver is one of the most important feminist and lesbian performance makers of the 20th and 21st centuries. This is the first ever book about her work and her life. With pictures.

We are inviting YOU to contribute to the making of this book, to help us produce the best possible record of her life and work, featuring as many wonderful and often previously unpublished photographs as we can fit in… elegantly!

Project description:

This is a book about the life and performance work of Lois Weaver.

After a rural Virginian childhood which included a fair amount of happy showing off, and teens and early twenties spent cutting her teeth in activism (at church), direct audience address (as a cheerleader) and professional performance in summer rep, Lois moved to New York in the late 1970s. Joining the legendary Spiderwoman Theater, she began seriously to develop her approaches to feminist performance, including the roots of her infamous alter ego Tammy WhyNot. Around 1980, with Peggy Shaw and Deb Margolin, Lois co-founded the performance company Split Britches and the performance venue the WOW Café, both of which would lead the way for generations of feminist and lesbian performance makers, audiences and critics. In the 1990s, Lois co-ran the London-based Gay Sweatshop Theatre Company and then joined the Drama Department at Queen Mary University of London. From there, she has been a leader in teaching and developing live art/performance art and has pioneered methods for engaging people in important public debate, for example at her Long Tables. Lois was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship Award in Drama and Performance Art in 2014 in recognition of her excellence.

Lois’s long and influential career in making theatre includes Split Britches’ wacky, politically committed, deconstructed semi-farces such as ‘Little Women: The Tragedy’ (1988) and the ‘Streetcar Named Desire’ re-mix ‘Belle Reprieve’, with legendary gay/drag performers Bloolips (1990). It incorporates duet work with Peggy Shaw, including their reflections on loss and urban gentrification in ‘Lost Lounge’ (2009). It encompasses solo work, not least as Tammy WhyNot, her failed-country-and-western-singer-turned-aspiring-lesbian-performance-artist. And it includes her work as a director and mentor.

Lois’s work has influenced theatre making, production, spectatorship and scholarship; activism; understandings of gender, femininity and sexuality; strategies of public engagement; ideas about aging, loss and love; and much more.

The Project: ‘The Only Way Home Is Through the Show: The Performance Work of Lois Weaver’ [working title]

This book will reflect on Lois’s use of performance personae such as Tammy; her explorations of the role of the femme; her methods of making performance, as a performer and director; and her strategies of leading and facilitating – in other words, of making stuff happen. It will also include some hidden treasures – revelations about performance work that has initially been made for small audiences. Contextualizing Lois’s work, the book will explore her lineages, legacies and practices in collaboration. And did we mention it will have pictures? Lots.

Its co-authors are Lois Weaver and Jen Harvie plus a host of other contributors. Its designer is David Caines, with images by Eva Weiss, Lori E. Seid, Christa Holka, Tom Brazil, Gordon Rainsford and Sheila Burnett, amongst others. ‘The Only Way Home Is Through the Show: The Performance Work of Lois Weaver’ [working title] will be published in September 2015 as part of the series Intellect Live, co-produced by the Live Art Development Agency (LADA) and Intellect; series editors are Dominic Johnson, Lois Keidan and CJ Mitchell.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE PROJECT.

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About Split Britches

Split Britches was founded 30 years ago by Peggy Shaw, Lois Weaver and Deb Margolin. Since 1980 we have transformed the landscape of queer performance with our vaudevillian satirical gender-bending performance. Split Britches creates new forms by exploiting old conventions. It borrows from classical texts and popular myths, but its true sources are the details of everyday life. The work is personal, bordering on the private. It relies on moments rather than plot, relationships rather than story. It is about a community of outsiders, queers, eccentrics – feminist because it encourages the imaginative potential in everyone, and lesbian because it takes the presence of a lesbian on stage as a given.
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