Split Britches Last Gasp by Christa Holka
La MaMa in association with Split Britches presents the New York premiere of Last Gasp, a Recalibration from October 14 – 30, 2022 at the Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa, 66 E. 4th Street, NYC. Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for students and seniors, and the first ten tickets for every performance are $10. There will also be a special event featuring cocktails and an intimate discussion moderated by theatre scholar Benjamin Gillespie (Baruch College, CUNY) on October 18 at 6pm. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit lamama.org/shows/last-gasp-recalibration-2022 or call 646-430-5374.
“How to survive a loss. First you recalibrate…”
In Last Gasp, A Recalibration, Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver recalibrate demise: the demise of their aging bodies, our civil conversations, and a sustainable planet. Landing somewhere between the realms of the live and the virtual, present and absent, between staying home and venturing out, the piece combines spoken word, movement and Zoom technology to respond to the world we now find ourselves in.
In early 2020, these two icons of lesbian-feminist theatre set out to present Last Gasp, a live performance questioning demise: the demise of aging bodies, civil conversations, and a sustainable planet. The pandemic arrived and knocked the breath out of us, as did a period of civil unrest that marched under the banner of ‘I can’t breathe.’ The ironies were not lost as the duo locked down, stayed in and continued their investigations resulting in a Zoom recording, Last Gasp WFH.
Now almost two years later, Last Gasp: A Recalibration gathers us in the same room but not as the same people. Reworking Last Gasp WFH for the physical stage, Shaw and Weaver unpick what it means to be in a theatre, and what it means to perform. With episodes entitled ‘The Trump in Me’ and ‘How to Set a Table in an Emergency’, the legendary performance duo brings us together to recalibrate – we are not coming to an end but finding strategies for moving on.
…The fleet, surprisingly entertaining movie is alternately playful, surreal, pointed and poignant, and its nonlinear scenes incorporate many of Split Britches’ calling cards: autobiography, sly humor, pop-culture references (Bill Withers to Beyoncé) and questioning of gender. – Elisabeth Vincentelli, The New York Times
Last Call: Cocktails and Conversation with Split Britches
Introduced and moderated by Benjamin Gillespie
Tuesday, October 18, 2022 | 6-9pm
Join Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver and their collaborators for cocktails and an intimate discussion about the duo’s latest performance, Last Gasp: A Recalibration. The evening will include a presentation from the current book project anthologizing more than a decade of work by Split Britches.
Last Gasp: A Recalibration was created in collaboration with Lois Weaver, Peggy Shaw, Nao Nagai, Vivian Stoll and Morgan Thorson.
Written and Performed by Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver of Split Britches
Directed by Lois Weaver
Video Design and Editing by Nao Nagai
Sound by Vivian Stoll
Choreography by Morgan Thorson
Costumes by Susan Young
Design Consultation by Matt Delbridge
About Last Gasp WFH
Last Gasp WFH was developed in a site-specific Zoom format using Split Britches’ temporary quarantine-home in London as a structural visual anchor. A house becomes a stage for the experience of sheltering in place, serving both as an intimate capsule of sequestered time and an apt reflection on the precarious nature of our bodies and the planet we call home. Written and performed by Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver in collaboration with Nao Nagai, Vivian Stoll and Morgan Thorson, it is a series of verbal and physical essays that dances through the intersections of permanence and impermanence, interdependence and care, knowledge and experience, and between Echo and Narcissus.
Last Gasp WFH is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, in addition to the Wellcome Trust, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre by the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in association with the New York Foundation for the Arts.
About the Artists
Lois Weaver is an artist, activist and Professor of Contemporary Performance Practice at Queen Mary, University of London. She is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow and a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow for 2016-2018. Lois was co-founder of Spiderwoman Theater, WOW Theatre in NYC 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 performances include Unexploded Ordnances (2016-18); What Tammy Needs to Know About Getting Old and Having Sex (2015); and RUFF (2012). Her experiments in performance as a means of public engagement include Long Tables, Porch Sittings, Care Cafes and her facilitating persona, Tammy WhyNot. Lois’s performance practice and history has been documented and illustrated in The Only Way Home Is Through the Show: Performance Works of Lois Weaver, eds. Lois Weaver and Jen Harvie, published in 2015 by Intellect and the Live Art Development Agency.
Peggy Shaw is a performer, writer, producer and teacher of writing and performance. She co-founded Split Britches and WOW Café Theatre in NYC. She is a veteran of Hot Peaches and Spiderwoman. She is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, and a 2014 recipient of the Doris Duke Artist and 2016 USA Arts Award. In 2017, Peggy was awarded an honorary doctorate from Queen Mary University of London for her contribution to theatre and the institution. Peggy has received three NYFA Fellowships and three OBIE Awards. She was the recipient of the 1995 Anderson Foundation Stonewall Award and Foundation for Contemporary Arts 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.
Nao Nagai is a London based lighting designer, technical collaborator and performer from Japan. Since immigrating to UK at the age of 15, she trained at Rose Bruford College in Lighting Design and she’s been lighting and collaborating multiple genre of performances, inter/nationally. Credit includes, Scenes with Girls (Royal Court), Yellowman (Young Vic), Ceremonial Blue (Midori Takada and Lafawndah), Philaharmonia Sessions (Philaharmonia Orchestra), Copyright Christmas (Duckie), Madama Butterfly, Tosca (Arcola Theatre), Rigoletto (Bury Court Opera) Gaping Hole Story#3 (Rachael Mars & Greg Wohead), OUT, Night Clubbing (Rachel Young), The Moment I saw You I knew I could Love you (curious international), Fake it Till You Make it (Bryony Kimmings), Putting Words in your Mouth (Scottee) Dr. Carnesky’s Bleeding Woman (Marisa Carnesky) and many more. Nao also performs regularly with the cult pop performance group Frank Chickens (winner of Foster’s Comedy God Awards). She is a tutor in Lighting Design at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Vivian Stoll is a sound designer, audio engineer, music producer, and musician. She has created music and sound design for the Split Britches Company for over 20 years and has been a collaborator on several projects. Past musical credits include work with Unknown Gender, Isis, Malvina Reynolds, Penny Lang, Rosalie Sorrels, Frank Maya, Jon Kinzel, Rebecca Coupe Franks, Laurie Anderson, and Bitch among many others. Currently, she teaches sound design for film and animation students at the School of Visual Arts and enjoys working on independent music projects. Visit her website at www.vivianstoll.com.
Morgan Thorson is a choreographer, performer and activist based in Minneapolis, MN. Twice receiving the Sage Award for Outstanding Choreography (2006 & 2007), and a MacDowell Colony Fellow (2018, 2012), Morgan’s honors also include the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award (2016), and United States Artist (2012), Guggenheim (2010), and McKnight (2009, 2002) Fellowships. She has received support from the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (2016, 2011, 2009) and in 2015 her installation, Still Life was featured in Local Time, a three-month exhibition at the Weisman Art Museum. From 2010 – 2016 she was a Creative Campus Fellow at Wesleyan University where she engaged students and professors in interdisciplinary practices, developing pedagogy in Dance, Archaeology, and Religious Studies. She is a Certified Skinner Releasing Technique practitioner.
About Split Britches
Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw are co-founders of Split Britches . Since 1980, they have created an interconnected repertoire of performance and social engagement work, which is part of a larger, lifelong project to facilitate communication, wellness, and social change through performance. Recent projects include Ruff (2013), a performance exploring the experiences of having a stroke; Unexploded Ordnances (2018), a combination of performance and public conversation on subjects of anxiety, aging, and unexplored potential; and Last Gasp (2020), a meditation on demise – demise of aging bodies, civil conversations, and a sustainable planet. Over the 40 years, they also remain committed to collaborating with diverse communities. This manifests in the founding of WOW Café in NY; developing projects in domestic abuse safe houses in upstate NY and in LGBTQ+ communities in Minneapolis; collaborating with seniors on a performance about sex and aging; working in women’s prisons in Brazil and the UK: developing performance with Taiwan Women’s Theatre Festival and creating therapeutic workshops for stroke survivors.
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. Both Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw are Guggenheim Fellows and Peggy was the recipient of the Doris Duke and USA Artist Awards.
Lois and Peggy were named Senior Fellows by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance in 2014, an award given to scholars, artists and activists affiliated with the institute whose work illustrates the highest achievement in the field of performance and politics. The company received a 2017 NY Innovative Theatre Award and the 2022 Ellen Stewart Career Achievement in Professional Theatre Award.
About La MaMa
La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. La MaMa’s 61st “Remake A World” Season believes in the power of art to bring sustainable change over time and transform our cultural narrative. At La MaMa, new work is created from a multiplicity of perspectives, experiences, and disciplines, influencing how we think about and experience art. The flexibility of our spaces, specifically the newly reimagined building at 74 East 4th Street (La MaMa’s original permanent home), gives our local and remote communities access to expanded daytime programming. The digital tools embedded in the space allows artists to collaborate remotely, and audiences worldwide to participate in La MaMa’s programming.
A recipient of the 2018 Regional Theater Tony Award, more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has been a creative home for thousands of artists, and resident companies, many of whom have made lasting contributions to the arts, including Blue Man Group, Bette Midler, Ed Bullins, Ping Chong, Jackie Curtis, André De Shields, Adrienne Kennedy, Harvey Fierstein, Diane Lane, Playhouse of the Ridiculous, Tom Eyen, Pan Asian Rep, Spiderwoman Theater, Tadeusz Kantor, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Mabou Mines, Meredith Monk, Peter Brook, David and Amy Sedaris, Julie Taymor, Kazuo Ohno, Tom O’Horgan, and Andy Warhol. La MaMa’s vision of nurturing new artists and new work from all nations, cultures, races and identities remains as strong today as it was when Ellen Stewart first opened the doors in 1961.