Performance artist Peggy Shaw gives rare glimpse at the art of ageing

Renowned post-modern theatre company Split Britches has taken up residence at the Tasmanian College of the Arts for the month of September, exposing University of Tasmania students and academics to a potent view of performance art.

Split Britches was founded in the US and the UK 30 years ago by Lois Weaver, Peggy Shaw and Deb Margolin. Their work straddles the line between performance and theatre, exploiting theatricality while exposing the pretence of theatre.

While in Tasmania, Shaw will also be performing her latest solo show, RUFF, in which she throws off the stigma of age and embraces the necessity and joy of creating new work following the stroke she suffered in 2011.

RUFF, which opens in Launceston tomorrow (Friday 4 September) sees Shaw offer a rare glimpse at the art of ageing and explores what it means to perform with a compromised brain. She does not conceal three teleprompters that keep her on track, instead baring them as important props.

The New York Times described RUFF as "an impressionistic monologue that's engaging, admirably unsentimental and often very funny indeed".

Shaw wrote the piece in collaboration with Weaver, who directs. Set and media design were by Matt Delbridge, the University of Tasmania's Head of Theatre at the Tasmanian College of the Arts.

Dr Delbridge said the Split Britches residency was an exciting opportunity, not just for the University, but for the broader arts community in Tasmania.

"Their work is firmly rooted in a queer feminist perspective with an unceasing quest for global equality in writing, spoken word and performance," he said.

"Split Britches can go beyond the surface features of live art and post-dramatic theatre and account for the forces that have shaped its history, politics, ethics and poetics.

"Above all, the performances, forums and new work development opportunities their residency brings will introduce our students and the community to models of performance making and applied theatre forged through decades of collaborations and experience."

Presented by TCOTA Theatre, University of Tasmania, and the Junction Arts Festival, RUFF will be performed at 8pm on Friday, 4 September and Saturday, 5 September, at Southern cross Austereo Studio, Watchorn Street, Launceston.

RUFF will also be on at 8pm on September 10 and 11 at the Theatre Royal Backspace in Hobart.

Published on: 03 Sep 2015 11:08am