Interview: Peggy Shaw - Queer theatre icon discusses her new show RUFF

'My shows are a spectacular take on my queerness and uniqueness'

Queer theatre icon Peggy Shaw discusses her new show, RUFF

For those who don’t know about your work yet, who is Peggy Shaw?
In general, my shows are a spectacular take on my queerness and uniqueness, placed in ‘normal’ society from my own perspective. I write my shows from my body; from all parts of my body and now, since my ‘ischemic infarction’ [Shaw recently had a stroke], I treat my brain as an active participant in my queer body, restructuring even the presentation of my show.

Are there specific themes which crop up again and again in your work?
Femininity in relation to masculinity to butch femme is a necessity in my work and has taken years of exploring inside to find new images and new words, rather than old ideas … I try to make all the pain and growth funny and accessible, and new.

Tell us a bit about Peggy Shaw: RUFF
It’s a new show about filling the empty spaces left in my demented brain after my stroke. I have been to Glasgow before – a high point in my life each time. The audiences seem to just have me for dinner and join in my revelry.

And going back a bit further, tell us about The WOW Cafe Theatre and Split Bitches
In the 1970s in New York, there was no venue for women to perform in. Lois Weaver [long-term collaborator and editor of RUFF] and I had toured Europe and been to most women’s festivals where you could eat, drink and perform to women. We wanted to create this type of space in the East Village, to emulate that space women had in Europe. We were inspired by it. It came from a desire to stop complaining about the world of men and create a world of women and to fill a huge void of outrageous and fringe new work.

The Arches, Glasgow, 10 Apr.

Peggy Shaw • Ruff Interview


Peggy Shaw pays tribute to the singers, movie stars and family members living in her head. Written with long-term collaborator Lois Weaver, this performance celebrates the ones who have survived the stroke she had in 2011.


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