Split Britches to Tackle Aging, Anxiety & Desire in UNEXPLODED ORDNANCES (UXO) at La MaMa as Part of 'Under the Radar'
Combining a Dr. Strangelove-inspired performance with a daring forum for public conversation, Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) explores aging, anxiety, hidden desires and how to look forward when the future is uncertain. Developed between the UK and U.S. by four-time Obie-winners Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver, Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) invites the audience to discuss the global issues of our time.
Adopting the characters of a bombastic general and ineffectual president, Shaw and Weaver lace Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) with both playful urgency and lethargy, encouraging discussion about the political landscape, and weaving in satirical insights, humor, and songs. The pioneering theatre-makers see unexploded ordnances as a metaphor for the unexplored potential in elders and hope to uncover the buried resources in all of us.
Following the January 4-21, 2018 premiere at La MaMa, Unexploded Ordnances (UXO), which is one of Split Britches most ambitious works to date, will tour internationally to Dublin; Leicester, UK; Cardiff, Wales; and the Barbican (May 15-19, 2018) in London.
Since its founding in 1980, Split Britches have transformed the landscape of queer theater with their vaudevillian, satirical, gender-bending performance. Their 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, and 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.
In the early 1980s, Weaver and Shaw were founding members of the WOW Café Theatre, which provided a home base for groundbreaking artists including Lisa Kron, Moe Angelos, Holly Hughes, and Carmelita Tropicana, among others.
The creative team for Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) includes Jo Palmer (Technical Design), Claire Nolan (Video Content Design), Matt Delbridge (Design Consultant), Vivian Stoll (Sound Design), Stormy Brandenberger (Choreography Consultant), Alex Legge (UK Producer) and Laura Petree (Company Manager).
Performances of Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) will take place January 4-21, 2018 (see schedule above) at La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Theatre, located at 66 E 4th Street; 2nd Floor. Critics are welcome as of Thursday, January 4 for an official opening on Sunday, January 7 at 4pm. The running time is 80 minutes with no intermission. Tickets, which are prices $10-$25 plus $1 facility fee, are available at lamama.org and by calling 212.352.3101.
Watch a trailer for the show below!
Founded in New York in 1980 with Deb Margolin, Split Britches continues with the duo and solo work of Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw which span satirical, gender-bending performance, methods for public engagement, videography, digital and print media, explorations of ageing and wellbeing, and iconic lesbian-feminist theatre.
Lois Weaver is an artist, activist and part time professor of Contemporary Performance at Queen Mary, University of London. She was co-founder of Spiderwoman Theater, WOW 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 work includes: Miss America (2008); Lost Lounge (2009) and RUFF (2012). 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. Her experiments in performance as a means of public engagement (publicaddresssystems.org) include the Long Table, the Library of Performing Rights, the FeMUSEm and her facilitating persona, Tammy WhyNot. Tammy collaborated with senior centers in NYC on What Tammy Needs To Know About Getting Old and Having Sex which premiered at La MaMa ETC, NYC in November 2014. Lois was named a Senior Fellow by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics in 2014. She is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow and a Wellcome Trust Engaging Science Fellow for 2016-18.
Peggy Shaw is a performer, writer, producer and teacher of writing and performance. She co-founded Split Britches and WOW in NYC. She is a veteran of Hot Peaches and Spiderwoman and has collaborated as writer and performer with Lois Weaver and Split Britches since 1980. Their 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 Theatre and Performance Community. Peggy has received three NYFA Fellowships and three OBIE Awards including an OBIE for Performance in 1987 for Dress Suits for Hire and in 1999 for Menopausal Gentleman. She was the recipient of the 1995 Anderson Foundation Stonewall Award and e Foundation for Contemporary Performance 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. Peggy was named a Senior Fellow by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance in 2014, an award given to scholars, artists and activists affiliated with the institute and whose work illustrates the highest achievement in the field of performance and politics. She is the 2014 recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award. In 2017, Peggy was awarded an honorary doctorate from Queen Mary University of London for her accomplishments and contributions.
La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. The organization has a worldwide reputation for producing daring performance works that defy form and transcend barriers of ethnic and cultural identity. Founded in 1961 by award-winning theatre pioneer Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 productions by 150,000 artists from more than 70 nations. A recipient of more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has helped launch the careers of countless artists, many of whom have made important contributions to American and international arts milieus.
La MaMa's 56th season highlights artists of different generations, gender identities, and cultural backgrounds, who question social mores and confront stereotypes, corruption, bigotry, racism, and xenophobia in their work. Our stages embrace diversity in every form and present artists that persevere with bold self-expression despite social, economic, and political struggle and the 56th season reflects the urgency of reaffirming human interconnectedness.
Photo Credit: Matt Delbridge