For the last 30 years Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver have been developing strategies for radical independent performance making in the context of their work with their own company Split Britches. They have furthered this process with collaborators such as Deb Margolin, Holly Hughes, Bloolips, Gay Sweatshop, La Mama, People's Palace Projects, Taiwan Women's Festival and with international communities of artists, theatre students, activists, women in prisons and safe houses and residents of old age homes and centers. Their major expertise is in building collaboration, collective devising, solo performance, applied performance, interventions into classical texts, performance and representation of gender and sexuality. They have given workshops and talks for institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Federation for International Research in Theatre (Helsinki) American Theatre in Higher Education and Theatre Institute (Warsaw), Peoples Palace Projects and Performing Medicine ( UK), Taipei Women's Theater Festival and Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics in the Americas.


Workshops include:

Making Work

  • A hands-on performance and writing workshop designed to create solo or group performance from the ordinary details and extra-ordinary fantasies of our lives.

Making Work Work

  •  A workshop on the process of interpretation and production of a pre-scripted performance piece.

Performance and Human Rights

  • A practical workshop investigating possibilities of using performance practice in addressing human rights.

Performing Gender

  • A practical workshop and one to one mentoring in the performance of gender in both traditional and non traditional performance.




Like an independent filmmaker, the independent performance maker is responsible for conceptualising their piece, writing text, composing the score and/or choreography, designing visuals, securing equipment, mastering the technology, locating the venue, producing and marketing the event and performing the piece. In this process the work emerges from within the body, self and experience of the performer rather than being imposed or even supported from without. The role of the director is internal rather than external. In their workshops they explore this independent performance making methodology with some of the following processes:

(Ad)dressing the fantasy

Visualising the exquisite

Using the mundane

Finding gesture on impulse

Writing words on your feet

Telling the creative truth

Disengaging, then engaging your editor

Collaborating with the enemy

Appropriating everything

Deconstructing the canon

Making people laugh


Visit our contact page for more information on booking a Split Britches workshop.



On March 21st, Lois completed her 10-week Artists' Residency with intergenerational arts charity Magic Me. At a private showing at Rose Court Rose Court Anchor care home in Surray Quays, Lois-as-Tammy and her team presented materials from workshops conducted with the residents, introduced them as their fantasy personas, and screened a short film by Claire Nolan, featuring them telling their stories.

As part of the same programme, care homes Greenhive, Norton House, and Silk Court will also be hosting residencies with one of a varied selection of arts organisations: immersive theatre company Punchdrunk; performance & events collective Duckie, and circus and aerial theatre company Upswing.

More information here.


A Question of Decency debuted at the Confrontations Performance Festival in Lublin, Poland in October 2015. The exhibition incorporated archival material from Split Britches, Holly Hughes, Citizen Reno and Penny Arcade to expose the context of making queer work within the Culture Wars of the 80s and 90s in America.  

In the early 1990s, the US art world faced legislative attack and political demonization on an unprecedented scale. Later to be dubbed ‘the Culture Wars’, the period witnessed a blacklisting of artists deemed ‘indecent, ‘anti-Christian’ or ‘un-American’: denying individual artists government funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, and pressuring galleries and institutions to avoid progressive, marginal or challenging works. Shock-baiting tactics from politicians, journalists and religious leaders prompted a flood of moral outcry against an arts community seen as elitist, sparking a debate which threatened to censor arts from minority communities, with non-white, female or gay artists disproportionately targeted.

New York City was the frontline for much of the Culture Wars, and home to the four artists featured in this exhibit: Penny Arcade, Holly Hughes, Reno and Split Britches. During this time, they presented work which refuted the standards of “decency” being bellowed across the Senate, instead bringing voice and visibility to marginalized communities and perspectives. Although only Hughes suffered direct funding cuts as part of the ‘NEA Four’, each of these artists formed part of the Culture Wars’ counter-attack, continuing to create fierce and vital performance in the face of censorious government, a prejudicial public and an hysterical media.

This exhibition, Decency Clause, attempts to outline the historical and political context of the Culture Wars, and ask questions about decency and freedom of expression that may still resonate today – not only in the US, but here in Europe and worldwide.