Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The 60's

La MaMa was created in 1961...

In August 1962 Michael Locascio wrote A Corner of the Morning. It was La MaMa’s first original play to be performed.

Harold Pinter allowed La MaMa to produce his work in America for the first time in October 1962. The play was The Room, directed by John Chace.

In December 1962 La MaMa produced its first opera, created and conducted by Anthony Keller. The production was entitled The Flood.

Other original plays in the first season were Head Hunting by Korean playwright Pagoon Kang Wouk, Lazy Baby Susan by Leonard Melfi, The Collector by Kate Hoffman, Rococco Joker written by James Eliason and directed by Carlo Grasson. In that first season La MaMa did 17 plays.

Bruce Kessler in January 1963 wrote and directed Son of Fricka with original music composed and played by Gary William Friedman who later went on to write music for Broadway.

Tom Eyen and the Theater of the Eye began in 1964. Its first production was Little Miss Frustrata, or The Dirty Little Girl with the Paper Rose Stuck in Her Head is Demented. The company toured Italy. In May 1969, The Dirtiest Show in Town was presented which later played the West End in London. Tom Eyen later wrote Dreamgirls for Broadway.

In March 1964 The Allegation Impromtu by Lawrence Ferlinggetti was performed at La MaMa at 82 2nd Avenue when the space was closed by the Fire Department. Ellen went to jail.

In June 1964 La MaMa had its first Coffeehouse Theatre Festival. The plays performed were The Recluse by Paul Foster and Who’s Afraid of Edward Albee by David Starkweather.

In August 1964 the Bogota Troupe played Paul Foster’s Hurrah for the Bridge which became Que Viva El Puente in Spanish at the Sheridan Playhouse. It was the first Off Broadway performance by a Latin American Troupe in Spanish.

In April 1965 La MaMa presented America Harrah by Jean Claude van Italie which later became Motel. This show opened our season and was directed by Michael Kahn. The La MaMa Troupe, directed by Tom O’Horgan and Ross Alexander, began in 1965 and toured England, France, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Austria, Italy, Germany, and the Virgin Islands with 22 plays. Tom O’Horgan later went on to direct Hair on Broadway.

In August 1965 the National Educational Television filmed Three Plays from La MaMa. They were Pavanne by Jean Claude Van Italie, Fourteen Hundred Thousand by Sam Shepard, and The Recluse by Paul Foster. Tom O’Horgan directed the entire program.

Ruth York was a patron of La MaMa, and she helped in La MaMa’s first tour in 1965 to Denmark. She was greatly beloved for her help in the underground during the Holocaust where she spent her whole fortune helping the Jewish movement. She was related to the Fischer Verlag Publishing House in Frankfurt, Germany. She was responsible for our first publications of plays in Germany, and, in fact, the world. Ruth died of a heart attack in the lobby of the Broadway Theatre during a matinee of Peter Brook’s production of Marat/Sade. She died in Ellen Stewart’s arms crying out, “Omm!” Ellen ran into the theatre shouting for a doctor. The audience thought she was part of the play. In February 1966, Lullaby for a Dying Gaul was performed which was written by Ruth Landshoff Yorck and directed by Walter Leyden Brown.

In October 1965 John Thompson directed The Typist by Murray Schisgal which was performed by La MaMa’s Theatre of the Blind. These performances with the Blind and workshops for blind artists were stopped by the public who expressed their opinion to the Lighthouse that the work was cruel and inhumane for the Blind to walk on a stage.

In October 1965 the Open Theatre came into residence at La MaMa. Their first show was called Open Theatre Improvisations.

La MaMa Plexus began in 1966 under the direction of Stanley Rosenberg and later was directed by Joel Zwick. Joel Zwick went on to direct many different films, including My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Fat Albert, as well as various television sitcoms, including Lavene and Shirley and Happy Days.

In May 1966 Viet Rock by Megan Terry was presented at La MaMa. It was the first anti-Vietnam play.

Larry Sacharow conceived and directed Concept with the Daytop Company in November 1967; the production went on to Broadway. The revenues of the Broadway production enabled the Daytop Village to develop into the institution it is today. Larry Sacharow is now the Dean of the Drama Department of Fordham University.

In 1968 La MaMa did the first International Theatre Festival at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Among the productions were: Megan Terry’s Massachusetts

Trust, directed by Tom O’Horgan and with the La MaMa Troupe; Max Stafford-Clark and his company from Edinburgh with a play by Stanley Eveling; Jerome Savary and his company from Paris with The Labyrinth by Fernando Arrabal.

The Playhouse of the Ridiculous, founded and directed by John Vaccaro, first presented at La MaMa in June 1969 with Cockstrong. The company toured countries, such as Holland, Belgium, France, and Switzerland.


tadeu said...

Ellen , i met you in 1982 when you came to brazil.
tadeu filippini
p.s. two months ago i did send some emails to gerald thomas

tadeu said...

p.s. my email address is

ale said...

ciao mama e la mama people around the world...
happy birthday to everyone!!
ale from italy

allan thomas said...

My dear Ellen,
It was exciting to find your blog and the La Mama ETC site. So many memories of so many people flooded my mind as I went over the list of plays!
Last year in January one cold night I walked down e. 4th st , and stood on the street and just peered up , maybe to the 4th floor, where I thought your apartment was 35 years ago. There was a dim light burning up there. I was standing in about the same place I last saw Tom Williams, and Candy Darling going into Small Craft Warnings.
I wondered if you would mind a visit from your namesake, Allan Stewart, I think John Vacarro gave me that stage name just to piss you off. I did lights for you when the cast of Satyricon got food poisoning and John stuck a dayglow cock on me and threw me out on stage with Harvey.
I decided not to try to visit. I had only one milllion questions! About people, places, things. what happened to this person, were you really born in Lafete, what happened to Richard Weinstock.
And I wanted to tell about what a great light you are. God has blessed you, my dear, with a great amount of love. Oh, and no body deserves that Tony more than you!
Remembering all those trees we planted on e. 4th.
Then I was almost mugged! I guess the only thing that has really changed is Phoebe's!
Allan Thomas, nee Stewart

allan thomas said...

Oh yeah! And I wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Laimons Juris said...

Hello and Wow!
La Mama -
Ellen Stewart!
How are you?
Reading your archives brings back very wonderful recollections.
In 1968 I was somehow fortunate enough to have participated with the La Mama Troupe in Megan Terry’s MASSACHUSETTS TRUST, directed by Tom O’Horgan. What great memories I have of those August days way, way back in another country, another place, another time. I was 22 then.
You probably won’t remember me… but I learned so much and even taught La Mama exercises to theater and film students. Most of them have become the finest actors working on the Latvian stage or in Latvian films today. Anyway.
Next year, 2008, will mark 40 years after Brandeis/Boston/Massachusetts Trust Experience - any reunions or such being thought about – that would be colossal.
The time certainly flashed by faster than a lightening bolt across the sky.
I have been trying to get a hold of Paul Foster… no luck so far. Can you help? If you see him, give him a big kiss & hug from me.
A BIG kiss & hug to you from Riga,

Laimons Juris G
a/k 69
Riga LV1002, Latvia

rctraymanusa said...

My name is Jeffrey Sandler.
I was Lighting Director for Picnic on a Battlefield in the early 60's . we had several reviews I have since lost. Can you help me find out some more about this warm memory.
Thank you

rctraymanusa said...

Hello I was Lighting Director for Picnic on a Battlefield in the early 60's. Would you please be so kind as to help me out with some more info about this warm memory.
Jeff Sandler

jahayiti said...

A Tribute To Max Roach

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Stewart,

I was excited to find your blog today. My late Great Aunt, Blanche Dee was a very early member of La Mama, and I was hoping to find some archival material, photos, playbills etc that might have included her in your archives and would be accessible. Or, if you could refer me to others who may have known her in the 60's and early 70's and might possibly have these materials. I was able to find some photos at the Cafe Cino blog that Robert Patrick put together, where I found the link to your site. I would also love to hear from any of your blog subscribers or anyone else that might be around that was a part of the La Mama community back then, and who may have remembrances of my favorite Aunt !

Many Thanks... Allegra Wilde