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Lady Dicks and Lesbian Brothers: Staging the Unimaginable at the WOW Cafe Theatre (Hardback)
  • Lady Dicks and Lesbian Brothers: Staging the Unimaginable at the WOW Cafe Theatre (Hardback)
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Lady Dicks and Lesbian Brothers: Staging the Unimaginable at the WOW Cafe Theatre (Hardback)

(author)
£52.50
Hardback 264 Pages / Published: 30/11/2010
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A rich and detailed picture of a particular historical moment that has now passed . . . I found myself immersed in the world of the East Village theatre scene and its connections to the larger world of feminism, theatre, and politics. Davy's long-standing association with this world pays off handsomely---it is impossible to imagine that anyone could write a more informative portrait. Charlotte Canning, University of Texas at Austin. ""After hosting two annual international women's performance festivals in 1980 and '81, Peggy Shaw, Lois Weaver, and comrades put on such extravaganzas as the Freudian Slip party and the Debutante Ball (a coming-out party if ever there was one) to raise the first several months' rent for a narrow vestibule on East 11th Street, where they could keep the creativity going year-round. There, on a stage no bigger than a queen-sized mattress, . . . artists honed their craft, giving birth to a celebratory feminist-and-tinsel-tinged queer aesthetic. By the mid '80s . . . the rent quadrupled, and WOW moved to a city-owned building on East 4th Street, where it has flourished ever since, presenting hundreds---if not thousands---of plays, solo shows, concerts, dance pieces, cabarets, and sundry performances that defy classification."" Alisa Solomon, Village Voice. Out of a small, hand-to-mouth, women's theater collective called the WOW Cafe located on the lower east side of Manhattan, there emerged some of the most important theater troupes and performance artists of the 1980s and 1990s, including the Split Britches Company, the Five Lesbian Brothers, Carmelita Tropicana, Holly Hughes, Lisa Kron, Deb Margolin, Reno, Peggy Shaw, and Lois Weaver. The WOW (Women's One World) Cafe Theatre appeared on the cultural scene at a critical turning point in both the women's movement and feminist theory, putting a witty, hilarious, gender-bending and erotically charged aesthetic on the stage for women in general and lesbians in particular. The storefront that became the WOW Cafe Theatre saw dozens of excitingly original and enormously funny performances created, performed, and turned over at lightning speed---a kind of ""hit and run"" theater. As the demands on the space increased, the women behind WOW organized as a collective and moved their theater to an abandoned doll factory where it continues to operate today. For three decades the WOW Cafe has nurtured fledgling women writers, designers, and performers who continue to create important performance work. Lady Dicks and Lesbian Brothers provides a critical history of this avant-garde venture whose ongoing ""system of anarchy"" has been largely responsible for its thirty-year staying power, after dozens of other women's theaters have collapsed. WOW artists were creating a wholly original cultural landscape across which women could represent themselves on their own terms. Parody, cross-dressing, zany comedy, and an unbridled eroticism are hallmarks of WOW's aesthetic, combined---importantly and powerfully---with a presumptive address to the audience as if everyone onstage, in the audience, and in the world is lesbian. Author Kate Davy's extensive research included in-depth interviews with WOW veterans; newspaper reviews of the earliest productions; and rare, unpublished photographs. The book also includes a chronology of productions that have highlighted WOW's performance schedule since the early '80s.

Publisher: The University of Michigan Press
ISBN: 9780472071227
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 499 g
Dimensions: 231 x 157 x 30 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
."..is a remarkable scholarly achievement, one that addresses egregious omissions in the historical record and charts an alternative genealogy of feminism and its relationship to queer theory by tracing the impulses, desires, influences, and exigencies that conspired to make the WOW Cafe an artistic possibility and a material reality."
--Sara Warner, "Theatre Survey"--Sara Warner"Theatre Survey" (02/20/2013)
"From Hughes's The Lady Dick to the performances of The Five Lesbian Brothers, WOW Cafe Theatre has offered such a space, and Davy's impeccably researched and well-argued book is a testimony to the ongoing fascination of, and the important cultural contributions made by, feminist, lesbian, and queer performers in the United States."
--Dirk Gindt, "Theatre Journal"--Dirk Gindt "Theatre Journal "
"Davy uses first-person insights, interviews with WOW members, and archival records, however scant, to position WOW Cafe Theatre within an ever-shifting context of US cultural production. At the same time, she works to recoup the theater's reputation from the slippages of collective memory."
--"Choice" (Highly Recommended)
--S. R. Irelan"Choice" (05/01/2011)
..".is a remarkable scholarly achievement, one that addresses egregious omissions in the historical record and charts an alternative genealogy of feminism and its relationship to queer theory by tracing the impulses, desires, influences, and exigencies that conspired to make the WOW Cafe an artistic possibility and a material reality."
--Sara Warner, "Theatre Survey"--Sara Warner"Theatre Survey" (02/20/2013)

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