Forbidden Desire Is the Thread of Dress Suits to Hire, Returning to NYC's Downtown May 19-June 5

News   Forbidden Desire Is the Thread of Dress Suits to Hire, Returning to NYC's Downtown May 19-June 5
Dress Suits to Hire, the pulpy, erotically charged serio-comic play about "sisters" in dress shop, returns to the downtown Manhattan theatre scene May 19-June 5, attracting both newcomers and fans of productions seen in 1987 and 1993.
From Left: Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw in Dress Suits to Hire
From Left: Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw in Dress Suits to Hire Photo by Eva Weiss

La MaMa E.T.C. (Ellen Stewart, founder) presents the revival of the play by Holly Hughes in collaboration with Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver. Dress Suits to Hire stars Shaw and Weaver (who also directs) and plays a strictly limited engagement at La MaMa's Annex Theatre (74A East 4th Street).

"This fresh look at Dress Suits to Hire is a theatrical celebration marking the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the award-winning Split Britches Company," according to production notes. "Many downtown artists will gather at La MaMa this Thursday to join the celebration including Holly Hughes and Karen Finley (two of the infamous NEA 4), Reno, Penny Arcade, Marga Gomez, Murray Hill, Carmelita Tropicana, Flawless Sabrina, The Five Lesbian Brothers' Mo DeAngelo, filmmaker Charles Atlas as well as Taboo's Euan Morton and Rosie and Kelli O'Donnell."

The work is billed as "a heady mixture of erotic fantasy and hard-boiled pulp drama in which two 'sisters' who live in a rental clothing shop use the merchandise to try on various facets of their personalities."

Created by Hughes, Shaw and Weaver, it's "a haunting and hilarious look into a room where one woman embodies a dark and predatory sexuality while the other one struggles against lesbian desires and her autonomous and abusive right hand."

Dress Suits to Hire won Obie Awards for both Shaw and Hughes (Shaw for her performance in the original 1987 production and a special citation for Hughes for the 1993 revival). This revival reunites Weaver and Shaw with the original choreographer Stormy Brandenberger and original costume designer Susan Young, as well as the production's original project coordinator, Lori E. Seid. Vivian Stoll is this production's sound designer. Founded in 1980 by Lois Weaver, Peggy Shaw and Deborah Margolin, Split Britches "has written and performed ground-breaking work (in trio, duet, and solo, as well as in collaboration with other artists) that has become an icon of lesbian and feminist performance for the last quarter of a century."

The company has received numerous awards, including a Jane Chamber Award and four Village Voice Obie Awards. Their collection of scripts, "Split Britches Feminist Performance/Lesbian Practice," edited by Sue Ellen Case, won the 1997 Lambda Literary Award for Drama.

Dress Suits to Hire will play Thursday-Saturday evenings at 7:30 PM and Sunday matinees at 2:30 PM.

Tickets $20 each and are available at the La MaMa E.T.C. box office (74A East 4th Street). For information call (212) 475-7710.

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