Monday, January 15, 2007

2000 and Beyond!

In May 2004 the Great Jones Repertory presented Seven: Seven Greek Myths in Repertory which included Medea, Electra, Trjan Women, Mythos Oedipus, Seven Against Thebes, Antigone, and Dionysus Filius Dei.

More to come....

The 90's

November 1991 Soundscape by Tan Dun was performed at La MaMa. He later went on to compose the soundtrack for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The First Emperor at the MET Opera.

In 1992 Ellen Stewart was invited by the office of the President of Turkey to commemorate Yunus Emre because UNESCO had named that year, The Year of Yunus Emre, to celebrate the Sufi master all over the world to Istanbul. The production, Yunus, was done in the mosque of Aya Irini. The mosque was built by a Sultan for a Christian woman named Irini for whom he credited for saving his life. In the company were Huseyin Katircioglu and Ayla and Beklan Algan. They later went on to form the group called MaMa’s Boys.

In February 1993 Faust/Gastronome was performed by the East Coast Artists, directed by Richard Schechner.

In May 1995 Geranos was presented with the Great Jones Repertory Company, created by Andrea Paciotto, Sandra Tommassini and Mia Yoo and music composed by Alexandros.

November 1995 Slant premiered Big Dicks, Asian Men. Slant is now a resident company of La MaMa.

March 1999 Yara Arts Group, directed by Virlana Tkacz, presented the Buryat National Theatre in Flight.

The 80's

In February 1980 Hong Sin Cha from Korea presented Laughing Stone which later became the name of her well-renowned group.

In February 1980 Dario D’Ambrosi from Italy with his theatre Il Teatro Italiano D’Avanguardia, which later became the Pathological Theatre, presented Tutti Non Ci Sono. Dario was recently seen in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ as the Torturer of Christ.

In April 1980 Le Centre International de Creations Theatrales, directed by Peter Brook, performed in repertory the productions Ubu, The Ik, and The Conference of the Birds.

In October-November 1980 Olympia Dukakis and Nicholas Kepros performed Otan Oi Atreides.

In October 1980 La MaMa presented A Day in the Life of the Czar, or I Too Have Lived in Arcadi, written by Frank O’Hara and V.R. Lang and directed by Peter Sellars.

In November 1980 Gimpel the Fool by Isaac Bashevis Singer had its American premiere at La MaMa directed by David Schecter.

In April 1981 Samuel Beckett wrote A Piece of Monologue for David Warrilow which played at La MaMa.

In April 1981 Rockaby by Samuel Beckett, directed by Alan Schneider and in association with NYU, premiered at La MaMa. Billy Whitelaw from London performed.

In April 1981 the Open Theater became the Winter Project and premiered Tourists and Refugees.

In July 1981 Kazuo Ohno performed at La Mama in L’Argentina.

In August 1981 Wallace Shawn presented The Hotel Play with Cooper-Keaton Group at La MaMa.

In 1982 Unseen Hand by Sam Sheperd, whose plays were presented at La MaMa since 1965, went Off-Broadway from La MaMa.

In July 1982 Money: A Jazz Opera by Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones) and George Gruntz with music by George Gruntz was presented with full orchestra at La MaMa, directed by George Ferencz.

May 1983 11 PM at La Mama, the La MaMa Cabaret, premiered, conceived and curated by Rick Richardson.

January/February 1984 11PM at La MaMa featured guest artists such as the multi- talented Andre De Shields in Haarlem Nocturne. The musical direction was by Marc Shaiman featuring singers Debra Byrd, Ellia English, and Freida Ann Williams. Later performers included Shami Chaiken, singer, and Francis Ellen Thorpe, who first appeared at La MaMa at age nine.

La MaMa presented Elizabeth Swados Jerusalem in May 1984 which later toured to Rome, Italy and Jerusalem, Israel.

In February 1986 John Jesurun’s Deep Sleep was presented which received an Obie. William Harris of the Village Voice wrote that John Jesurun was “the most original conceptual artist now working in experimental theatre.”

In February 1986 The Yellow House with the Shaliko Company played at La Mama, written and directed by Leo Shapiro and music composed by Julie Lyonn Lieberman. Later, Ellen Stewart and Leo Shapiro created the Trinity/La MaMa Program.

The 70's

Mabou Mines was in residence at La MaMa from 1970-1974, directed by Lee Breuer, music composed by Phillip Glass, and company members JoAnne Akalaitis and Ruth Maleeczech.

The ETC Company was in residence at La MaMa from 1970-1974, directed by Wilford Leach and John Braswell. The company toured Denmark, Spain, Italy, Holland, France, and Austria. Wilford Leach went on to be the Artistic Director of the Public Theatre.

La MaMa Chinatown began in the Church of the Transfiguration on Mott Street in Chinatown in August 1970 with The Three Travelers Watch the Sunrise, written by Wallace Stevens and directed by Ching Yeh. La MaMa Chinatown was co-founded by La MaMa, Jing-Jyi Wu and Ching Yeh. The company received its training through Lee Breuer of the Mabou Mines, Carlos Ueiveo of Argentina, and Mavis Taylor of Cape Town, South Africa. Out of La MaMa Chinatown grew the Asian Repertory Company, and finally became Pan Asian Repertory Company, directed by Tisa Chang, H.T. Chen and Dancers, directed by H.T. Chen and Dian Dong, also grew out of La MaMa Chinatown.

The Jarboro Troupe, which was first called the GPA Nucleus, began in October 1970 with Street Sounds directed by Hugh Gittens and written by Ed Bullins. The Troupe was named after Katarina Jarboro, an opera star in Harlem, and was directedby Hugh Gittens. The Company toured Italy, Holland, and Germany.

Tokyo Kid Brothers from Japan in residence at La MaMa, created The Golden Bat in 1970 with direction by Higashi Yutaka and music composed by Shimoda Itsuro. The production later had a successful Off-Broadway run at the Sheridan Playhouse.

La MaMa Tel Aviv was created by Ellen Stewart in 1970 in Tel Aviv. It was given first workshop space in a bomb shelter, underneath a big apartment building. It was very prestigious, because it had three different kind of toilets. The shelter was given to Ellen by the Mayor Rabinovitz. The mayor also put in heat and air conditioning, and La MaMa Tel Aviv was the first to receive a grant for its work, and the grant was given by Leah Porat. Ellen sent Martin Brenzell from La MaMa Canada and Kate Carney to train the members of the workshop, and later Rina Yerushalmi, an Israeli, became the Artistic Director. Hanoch Levin was one of its playwrights, and amongst the actors were Victor Attar and Geula Jaffet, who still represent La MaMa Tel Aviv today. It was through La MaMa Tel Aviv that Dr. Feldenchrist came to New York and later did workshops at New York University.

In 1970’s The People Show, a troupe from London came, and Michael Figgis was the Technical Director. The Troupe continued to come many time. Michael Figgis later went on to direct such films as Leaving Las Vegas and Time Code.

The Third World Theatre Institute (TWITAS) of La MaMa, directed by Cecil Guidote with Ellen Stewart, began in the Philippines in 1971. It was further developed in Bombay, India in 1972 and was formalized in Moscow at the ITI Congress. Third World was the name given to developing countries at that time by the United Nations. TWITAS was one of the ways that enabled the indigenous cultures of the Third World to be presented at La MaMa.

East 3rd Street Workshop was directed by Martine Barat, who was a member of La MaMa Paris. The address of the workshop was 236 East 3rd Street, and the building was given to La MaMa by Maurice Kanbar and Paul Levine. Although La MaMa was a non-profit organization, the City of New York tried to make La MaMa responsible for the taxes on the building. In midst of this battle, Ellen learned about the Nuyorican Poets who had no home of their own. She decided that she would agree for the Poets to come into the building. The first two floors had been completely renovated through a grant from the Ford Foundation. The Nuyorican Poets later were allowed to purchase the building in an auction. Ellen decided it was better to let them keep the space because she had 74 East 4th Street, a five-story building on the East Side. The workshop was created to teach children from Harlem music and dance, and to be a workplace for musicians. The workshop for musicians was directed by Charles “Bobo” Shaw, with musicians Lester Bowie, Joe Bowie, Vincent Terrel, and others. The childrens’ workshop was created to bring twelve children from Harlem whose parents were largely unemployed and coming from disadvantaged homes. They received dance and music lessons from the musicians, and the musicians used the space for rehearsal, composing music, etc. Martine is now a world renowned photographer.

In early spring of 1972, Ellen Stewart played a key role in the founding of a contemporary theatre for American Indians. Working with Hanay Geiogamah, a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, Ms. Stewart participated in the formation of the Native American Theatre ensemble, a 16-member troupe of performing artists representing Indian tribes from all parts of America. She and Mr. Geigomah had first laid out plans for organizing the company in the summer of 1970, when Mr. Geigomah came to New York City to ask for help in putting together a concept, a founding strategy and a training program for the ensemble. “The idea was to establish at theatre of , by and for American Indian people,” said Mr. Geigomah, who is now a professor of theatre and American Indian studies at the University of California at Los Angeles. “Our intention was to form the company in New York, with the help of Ellen and the dozens of incredible theatre artists who were affiliated with La MaMa, then tour the to Indian reservations and urban and tribal communities all across the country.” Mr. Geigomah gives high praise to Ms. Stewart for her contributions in founding the Ensemble. “She helped in every aspect of this project. She took me to the Ford Foundation, to the Rockefeller Foundation, to the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., to raise the money for the project. We succeeded in raising $125,000 for a one-year program of training and production. Ellen helped us to obtain subsidized housing on Second Avenue from the City, helped draw up a comprehensive training for the actors, and guided me in the process of developing my first play, which the company performed in a world premiere at La MaMa on October 25, 1972, which was an incredible experience,” Geiogaham added. Among La Mama veterans Ms. Stewart recruited to train the Indian company members were Liz Swados, john Bottoms, Andrei Serban, John Vacarro, Lee Breuer, Wilford leach, Bill Elliott, Tom O’Horgan and Paul Foster. “She made the entire creative and physical resources of La MaMa available to the Ensemble,” Geiogamah noted. “And it paid off in a most wonderful way.” In his review of the company’s first bill, Clive Barnes wrote in The New York Times: “They offer a new kind of theater, and I welcome it.” Many other critics joined in with praise for the company’s inaugural season. Keeping its promise to take its work to the Indian communities, the company undertook a six-week tour of Indian reservations immediately after the two-week premiere season, with Ms. Stewart accompanying the company on part of the itinerary. A year later, in Decemger 1973, American Indian Theatre Ensemble presented its second La MaMa season, and this was followed by additional national and international tours. The company re-located to Oklahoma in 1975. the 16 original members went on to participate in the founding of six new American Indian companies and performing projects, and its legacy at La MaMa has since been recognized as the foundation of the contemporary American Indian theatre movement. American Indian theatre ensemble’s first season included: Body Indian by Hanay Geiogamah, and Na Haaz Zaan by Navajo playwright with actor Robert Shorty. The troupe’s second season (1973) included Foghorn by Hanay Geiogamah and Coon Cons Coyote created by the entire company. Mr. Geiogamah’s plays were published in 1980 under the title of New Native American Drama by the University of Oklahoma Press, and that first-ever collection of American Indian plays is dedicated to Ms. Stewart.

The Trocadero Gloxinia Ballet Company, an all-male ballet company, was a resident company of La MaMa and was created by Larry Ree. The first performance of the company was November 29, 1972

In March 1975 Bill Duke directed Garrett Morris in the Secret Place.

In April 1976 Meredith Monk created Quarry for the La MaMa Annex Space.

In Febuary 1978 the first play of the Torch Song Trilogy by Harvey Fierstein called International Stud was presented at La MaMa, followed by the plays Fugue in a Nursery and Widows and Children First. Later Torch Song Trilogy opened on Broadway.

Ping Chong and Company became a resident company of La MaMa in March 1978 with the production of Humboldt’s Current.

In February 1979 Tadeusz Kantor and the Cricot 2 Theatre came to La MaMa and presented Dead Class. All of Kantor’s plays were subsequently presented at La MaMa. They were Dead Class, Wielopole, Wielopole, Let the Artist Die, I Shall Never Return and Today is My Birthday. Kantor allowed Ellen Stewart to give the name I Shall Never Return to that play.

In May 1979 Pieter-Dirk Uys from South Africa presented God’s Forgotten at La MaMa.

This was Pieter Dirk Uys’ first American appearance.

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.