Peggy Shaw

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Peggy Shaw
Born (1944-07-27) July 27, 1944 (age 77)
Alma materMassachusetts College of Art
OccupationActor, writer, producer
Known forFounder of the Split Britches
AwardsDoris Duke Award, Edwin Booth Award, Ethyl Eichelberger Award, Hemispheric Institute Art Matters Award, Otto Award for Excellence in Political Theatre, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for Emerging Forms, Out on the Edge of Theatre Award for Sustained Excellence, Anderson Foundation Stonewall Award for Sustained Excellence, 3 Obie Awards

Peggy Shaw (born July 27, 1944) [1] is an actor, writer, and producer living in New York City. She is a founding member of the Split Britches and WOW Cafe Theatre, and is a recipient of several Obie Awards, including two for Best Actress for her performances in Dress Suits to Hire in 1988 and Menopausal Gentleman in 1999.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Born Margaret A. Shaw in Belmont, Massachusetts, she was raised in a working class Irish Congregationalist family with six siblings. When she was thirteen, she was a missionary in Costa Rica.[3]

Shaw moved to New York in 1967. She had a child and was a social worker for the New York City Agency for Child Development.[3]

In 1967, Shaw earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking at the Massachusetts College of Art.


At the age of 31 after seeing Hot Peaches (a theater group in New York that consisted mostly of drag queens) perform in Sheridan Square, Shaw became involved with the company. Shaw began by painting sets for Hot Peaches and constructing paper mâché heads for a parade performance. Her first experience on stage was in 1975 on a gay tour of Europe. During this time, she saw Spiderwoman Theater in Amsterdam and met Lois Weaver. Shaw and Hot Peaches lived in London for 3 years, where they met Bette Bourne, who would go on to found the Bloolips after his experiences with Hot Peaches. [3][4]

Shaw founded the troupe Split Britches with Deb Margolin and Lois Weaver in 1980.[5] She also co-founded WOW Cafe Theater, an ongoing performance festival and venue.

Shaw suffered a stroke in 2011. Her show, RUFF, directed by longtime collaborator Lois Weaver, explores her experiences as a survivor.[2]

The University of Michigan published A Menopausal Gentleman, a book that includes many of the scripts from Shaw's solo performances.[6]


  • The Slow Drag
  • You're Just Like My Father
  • To My Chagrin
  • MUST: The Inside Story
  • Dress Suits To Hire
  • Belle Reprieve
  • Menopausal Gentleman
  • RUFF

Awards and Grants[edit]

Shaw has received Obie Awards for her performances in Dress Suits To Hire, and Menopausal Gentleman, and an ensemble award for her work in Belle Reprieve.

  • 1987: Village Voice OBIE Award for performance in Dress Suits to Hire [7]
  • 1990: Village Voice OBIE for the ensemble in Belle Reprieve [7]
  • 1994: Nominee for Cal/Arts Herb Alpert Award [7]
  • 1995: Anderson Foundation Stonewall Award for Sustained Excellence, Jane Chambers Award for the Best Play, Villager Award to Split Britches Company for Best Ensemble, Nominee for Cal/Arts Herb Alpert Award [7]
  • 1998: Out on the Edge Theatre Award for Sustained Achievement [7]
  • 1999: Village Voice OBIE for the production Menopausal Gentlemen, Nominee for Cal/Arts Herb Alpert Award [7]
  • 2004: The Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists award.[8]
  • 2005: The Foundation for Contemporary Performance, Theatre Performer of the Year [7]
  • 2006: Otto Award for Excellence in Political Theatre [7]
  • 2014: Doris Duke Artist Award for Theater [9]


  1. ^ Date of birth,; accessed June 13, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Isherwood, Charles (January 13, 2013). "A Deadpan Look at Life Before and After a Stroke". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b c "Peggy Shaw by Craig Lucas". Bomb. Fall 1999.
  4. ^ Snook, Raven (January 9, 2014). "Peggy Shaw: Making Funny Theater Out of Aging and Loss". Senior Planet.
  5. ^ "Peggy Shaw at Split Britches". Split Britches. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  6. ^ "A Menopausal Gentleman The Solo Performances of Peggy Shaw". University of Michigan Press. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Peggy Shaw" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  8. ^ "Peggy Shaw". Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Retrieved 2014-06-09.
  9. ^ "Peggy Shaw". Archived from the original on 2014-04-26. Retrieved 2015-07-04.

Further reading[edit]

  • A Menopausal Gentleman: The Solo Performances of Peggy Shaw. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2011. ISBN 978-0-472-03414-7.

External links[edit]