Memories of the Revolution: The First
Ten Years of the WOW Café Theatre
Edited by Holly Hughes, Carmelita Tropicana, & Jill Dolan
University of Michigan Press. 242 pages, $35.
The Only Way Home Is through the Show:
Performance Work of Lois Weaver
Edited by Jen Harvie & Lois Weaver
University of Chicago Press. 248 pages, $35.
THE WOW (Women’s One World) Café Theater was founded in 1980 by Lois Weaver, her lover Peggy Shaw, and a handful of other feminist performers. The theater-café, located in the East Village, was all about performance art with clear feminist and lesbian themes, and their shows were satirical, often erotic responses to the issues of the day.
Remarkably, this performance collective has survived in New York for a generation without any government funding. The founders, who were interviewed for both of the books under review, explained that they decided early on not to apply for government grants because the application process would take up valuable time and energy, and they would probably be refused, and if they were accepted, they would have to conform to the funder’s rules.
These two books on overlapping topics are a pleasure to hold and to look at. Memories of the Revolution is a standard-sized paperback with a collection of photos in the center, and The Only Way Home Is through the Show is a large paperback art book, lavishly illustrated throughout.