Videos

Want to watch a Split Britches performance that you were not able to catch?  Here you can stream video of our performance work from over the years.  Below is a synopsis of each performance and an external link to the video documentation via the Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library.

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Split Britches: “Retro Perspective – It’s a Small House and We’ve Live in It Always” (2007)

This video documents Retro Perspective, a short medley of old Split Britches hits that provides a humorous slant on Peggy Shaw’s and Lois Weaver’s last thirty years of work and play. In It’s A Small House, two explorers lay claim to the same territory. These people have known each other for a long time. They occupy a house that has been divided and subdivided by time and bad habits. They sit on a porch, watch the horizon, and wait for the weather to change. Their only hope is an audience.

This video also includes a post-performance discussion with Peggy, Lois, and performance artist Anna Jacobs.

Watch the video

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Double Agency: “Miss Risqué” & “It’s A Small House and We’ve Lived in It Always” (2002)

This video documents the NY premieres of the shows Miss Risqué and It’s A Small House and We’ve Lived in It Always, performed at La Mama, in the context of the two-piece spectacle show Double Agency, the first collaboration between Split Britches and the renowned English troupe The Clod Ensemble.

Miss Risqué is a story of secrets and showgirls, set in turn-of-the-century Paris, where working-class girls could become rich and famous, prostitutes could pass for nobility, women could have open affairs with women, and sex wasn’t exclusive to the marital bed. A piece on “resistant femininity,” Miss Risqué  is a lyrical lesbian tarantella that explores the power of femininity, visibility, invisibility and deception.

In It’s a Small House and We’ve Lived in it Always two explorers lay claim to the same territory. With three chairs as its only props, little speech, some song and much meaningful movement and expressive acting, the piece shows longtime cohabitants engaged in a contest for space. These people have known each other for a long time. They occupy a house the size of a small stage, a house divided and subdivided by time and bad habits. They sit on the porch, watch the horizon, and wait for the weather to change. Their only hope is an audience. As they move apart and then together, spurn advances and accept closeness, mime rejection and flirtation and reveal need, the two performers enact the ebb and flow of a universally resonant relationship.

Watch the Video

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Salad of the Bad Café (2000)

This video documents Salad of the Bad Café, a post-modern cabaret written and performed by Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw of Split Britches and Asian American performance artist Stacy Makishi. Inspired by Carson McCullers’ story “The Ballad of the Sad Café” and the lives of Tennessee Williams and Yukio Mishima, it is a treatise on love in a post-claustrophobic era. The play begins in 1945, in the summer that lay between the war and the postwar period when Japan was weeping, the American South was seething and the word “gender” was mostly used in grammar class. The setting is a café where people come to spend a few hours so that the “deep bitter knowing that their life is not worth much can be laid to rest.” Racial, gender and regional stereotypes come together to tell a story of unrequited love, in an attempt to demystify the Queer, disorient the Orient and demythify the Southern Gothic and the American Grotesque.

Watch the Video

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Faith and Dancing (1999)

This video documents the one-woman show Faith and Dancing. Written and performed by Lois Weaver, the piece is an autobiographical journey from an early life growing up a strict Southern Baptist in 1950’s Virginia to lesbian femme in the 1990’s. In Weaver’s exploration, faith meets science and sermons meets striptease and she reconciles how a youthful evangelist became an aging exhibitionist.

Watch the Video

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Salad of the Bad Café (1998)

This video documents Salad of the Bad Café, a post-modern cabaret written and performed by Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw of Split Britches and Asian American performance artist Stacy Makishi. Inspired by Carson McCullers’ story “The Ballad of the Sad Café” and the lives of Tennessee Williams and Yukio Mishima, it is a treatise on love in a post-claustrophobic era. The play begins in 1945, in the summer that lay between the war and the postwar period when Japan was weeping, the American South was seething and the word “gender” was mostly used in grammar class. The setting is a café where people come to spend a few hours so that the “deep bitter knowing that their life is not worth much can be laid to rest.” Racial, gender and regional stereotypes come together to tell a story of unrequited love, in an attempt to demystify the Queer, disorient the Orient and demythify the Southern Gothic and the American Grotesque. This is one of the first iterations of the piece, performed as a work-in-progress in London in 1998.

Watch the Video

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Menopausal Gentleman (1998)

This video documents Split Britches’ show Menopausal Gentleman, Peggy Shaw’s bluesy, pseudo-stream-of-consciousness lounge act about a butch lesbian going through “the change.” An Obie-winning, tour de force one-woman show about a menopausal body and the fires of its ageless heart, Peggy Shaw’s Menopausal Gentleman is a revelation. Shaw riffs on the hormonal effects of menopause complete with hot flashes, cold sweats, humor and tears, penetrating and perpetuating the mystery in an unlikely persona. She is a tough-speaking film-noir soul performed in Shaw’s trademark drag patois (a self conscious and artificially low New Yorkese), or to put it simply: a tough guy in a swell suit!

Watch the Video

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Little Women: The Tragedy (1998)

This video documents the world premiere of Split Britches’ show Little Women: The Tragedy. The piece tackles complex issues of pornography and feminism through the humor of only two possibilities: heaven or hell, preacher or prostitute, and the left hand and right hand of Louisa May Alcott.

Watch the Video

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Little Women (1998)

This video documents the first version of Split Britches’ show Little Women: The Tragedy. Here performed as a work-in-progress, the piece tackles complex issues of pornography and feminism through the humor of only two possibilities: heaven or hell, preacher or prostitute, and the left hand and right hand of Louisa May Alcott.

Watch the Video

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Valley of the Dolls House (1997)

This video documents Split Britches’ show Valley of the Dolls House, created in residency with 26 students from the University of Hawaii in 1997. Based on Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” and Jacqueline Susann’s “Valley of the Dolls,” the piece is a celebration of difference and a critique of whiteness set in the uniquely multicultural city of Honolulu that is both besieged by and dependent on a tacky tourist trade.

Watch the Video

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Lust and Comfort (1995)

This video documents Lust and Comfort, a theater piece written by Peggy Shaw, Lois Weaver, and James Neale Kennerely and performed by Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver. Lust and Comfort uses three story lines to examine the ups and downs of a long term relationship and the changing terrain of sexual desire. Using cross-dressing characters and movie references to “The Servant” and “The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant,” Shaw and Weaver address how lesbians invent their lives out of popular heterosexual cultural references.

Watch the Video

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Lesbians Who Kill (1994)

This video documents Split Britches’ show Lesbians Who Kill,  written by Deb Margolin in collaboration with Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver. Performed by Shaw and Weaver as characters May and June, a couple who go very “wrong,” the play looks at what might motivate women and lesbians in particular to become killers and serial ones at that.

Watch the Video

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Dress Suits to Hire (1993)

This video documents Split Britches’ show Dress Suits to Hire. Written by Holly Hughes in collaboration with Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver, the piece uses images from pulp fiction and film noir to portray the erotic cat-and-mouse relationship between characters Deluxe and Michigan, two women who live in a clothing store. Heated fantasies, brassy broads and sexual charades make for a carnivorous free-for-all. The video also includes a Q&A session with Shaw and Weaver at the end of the performance.

Watch the Video

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Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver at Dixon Place (1992)

This video documents a work-in-progress by Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw, staged at experimental theater venue Dixon Place in New York City in 1992. An informal evening on issues of butch-femme, gender and “queer,” it is a collaboration with artists Vicky Genfan, Claire Moed and Leslie Feinberg. The resulting piece is a vaudevillian satirical gender-bending performance “for your theoretical entertainment.”

Watch the Video

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Monsieur-Madame (1991)

This video documents a staged reading of Ginka Steinwachs’ text Monsieur-Madame.  Directed by Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw, the performance is a collaboration between Split Britches and legendary queer theater troupes Bloolips and The Five Lesbian Brothers.

Watch the Viedo

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Belle Reprieve (1991)

This video documents Split Britches’ performance Belle Reprieve.  Collaborating with legendary gay/drag performers Bloolips, Shaw, and Weaver take on Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” and the mythic proportions of Stanley and Blanche.  Both steamy and hysterical, Belle Reprieve looks at gay and lesbian sex in the 1940’s and both honors Williams and turns him on his head.

Watch the Video

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The Anniversary Waltz (1990)

This video documents Split Britches’ show The Anniversary Waltz. A celebration of Lois and Peggy’s 10-year relationship, created 15 years before the debate on gay marriage, it is a commentary on the tendency to couple and a critique on the institution of marriage. At the same time it is a tribute to long term relationships sustained through creative work and an appropriation of the “husband-and-wife team” identities represented in vaudeville variety acts, comedy duos and musical duets.

Watch the Video

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Patience and Sarah (1987)

This video documents their show Patience and Sarah, an adaptation of the eponymous novel by Isabel Miller. The piece was adapted by Joyce Halliday and produced in the style of the Split Britches Company.

Watch the Video

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Upwardly Mobile Home (1986)

This video documents Split Britches’ show Upwardly Mobile Home. Originally produced at the WOW Café Theatre on East 11th Street, New York City in 1984, this version is a revived performance at WOW on 4th Street in 1986. The piece is a working class “survival” story, where a troupe of actors camps out under the Brooklyn bridge and peddle their wares, trying unsuccessfully to “sell out” and “be greedy” like the rest of America in the 1980’s.

Watch the Video

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Beauty and the Beast (1986)

This video documents Split Britches’ show Beauty and the Beast. Based on the classic fairy tale, influenced by the long rule of republican politics and informed by the Christian agenda that dominates the US scene up till the present, it is the personal journey of a Salvation Army woman who plays the good and beautiful daughter who secretly wants to be bad, a Rabbi in pink toe shoes who is relegated to the role of the father and longs to be a stand-up comic, and an 86-year-old lesbian vaudeville freak who embraces the role of the Beast and comments on politics by forgetting which play she is in.

Watch the Video

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Upwardly Mobile Home (1984)

This video documents the first version of Split Britches’ show Upwardly Mobile Home, performed at WOW Café Theatre on East 11th Street in New York City. The piece is a working class “survival” story, where a troupe of actors camps out under the Brooklyn bridge and peddle their wares, trying unsuccessfully to “sell out” and “be greedy” like the rest of America in the 1980’s.

Watch the Video

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Split Britches (1984)

This video documents Split Britches’ show Split Britches –The True Story, which marks the initial collaboration of the trio and is the show from which they got their name. Conceived and directed by Lois Weaver, it’s a show based on true stories of three members of Weaver’s family in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, United States. It also marks the beginning of the company’s aesthetic: weaving multiple true stories in one, trusting the details of the everyday and relying on relation rather than action.

Watch the Video

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Beauty and the Beast (1983)

This video documents the first version of Split Britches’ show Beauty and the Beast. Based on the classic fairy tale, influenced by the long rule of republican politics and informed by the Christian agenda that dominates the US scene up till the present, it is the personal journey of a Salvation Army woman who plays the good and beautiful daughter who secretly wants to be bad, a Rabbi in pink toe shoes who is relegated to the role of the father and longs to be a stand-up comic, and an 86-year-old lesbian vaudeville freak who embraces the role of the Beast and comments on politics by forgetting which play she is in.

Watch the Video

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Split Britches (1980)

This video documents a first rehearsal of the first draft of Split Britches’ show Split Britches — The True Story, which marks the initial collaboration of the trio and is the show from which they got their name. Conceived and directed by Lois Weaver, it’s a show based on true stories of three members of Weaver’s family in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, United States. It also marks the beginning of the company’s aesthetic: weaving multiple true stories in one, trusting the details of the everyday and relying on relation rather than action.

Watch the video

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One Response to Videos

  1. Pingback: My Night With Peggy Shaw « schlomosteel.com

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