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About La MaMa

Experimental Theatre Club

and Stonewall 50, 2019

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Ellen Stewart, a black female fashion designer, founded La MaMa in 1961 in a tiny basement theatre at 321 East 9th Street so that her brother and his friends would have a place to create and perform their theatre works. Ellen dedicated La MaMa to the playwright and all aspects of the theatre. Ellen welcomed artists who were underrepresented, underfunded, and often misunderstood, at a time when the perception of what theatre could be was changing rapidly. 


Since its opening in 1961, La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 theatrical productions and supported more than 150,000 artists. What kept La MaMa going was the founder, Ellen Stewart’s firm belief that the world can be brought together to communicate and harmonize through the power of theatre. La MaMa has been celebrating works that push the boundaries of language, culture, nationality, race, religion, disability, age, sex, sexual orientation, and gender – emphasizing love and justice of humanity.


A diverse and impressive roster of artists have been nurtured here, including: Blue Man Group, Sam Shepard, Ed Bullins, Taylor Mac, Estelle Parsons, Adrienne Kennedy, Diane Lane, Jackie Curtis, Harvey Keitel, Robert Wilson, Bette Midler, André DeShields, Harvey Fierstein, Max Roach, Steve Buscemi, Julie Taymor, Philip Glass, and Olympia Dukakis.


In 2018, The American Theatre Wing presented La MaMa with the Regional Theatre Tony Award recognizing it as “the influential company that helped give birth to the Off Off Broadway movement.” La MaMa has also been honored with 30+ Obie Awards, dozens of Drama Desk and Bessie Awards and Villager Awards.


Well-known as a place where American theatergoers are introduced to the work of artists from around the globe, La MaMa has presented the US debuts of Peter Brook, Tadeusz Kantor, Andrei Serban, Kazuo Ohno, and recently, Belarus Free Theatre, which the Times’ Ben Brantley called “One of the most powerful and vividly resourceful underground companies on the planet.”


In June 2019, La MaMa celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Stoneall Riots, and World Pride with exciting voices from around the globe and down the block. 'Singing Actors Repertory Company' and ‘The Los Angeles Laptop Collective’ proudly participate in this celebration with a new theatre piece, '13 Fruitcakes.'

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