La MaMa Theater



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La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club (La MaMa E.T.C.) is an off-off Broadway theatre founded in 1961 by Ellen Stewart, and named in reference to her. La MaMa Theater is Located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the theatre grew out of Stewart’s tiny basement boutique for her fashion designs; the La MaMa Theater boutique’s space acted as a theatre for fledgling playwrights at night. La MaMa has evolved during its almost fifty-year history into a world- renowned cultural institution; and Stewart continues to act as La MaMa’s artistic director today.
In its earliest days, La MaMa was a theatre dedicated to the playwright, encouraging young playwrights and primarily producing new plays, including works by Paul Foster, Jean Claude Van Itallie, Lanford Wilson, Sam Shepard, Adrienne Kennedy and Rochelle Owens. La MaMa also acted as an international ambassador for off-off Broadway playwriting by touring Village playwriting abroad during the 1960s.
La MaMa is the only theatre of the 1960s off-off Broadway movement’s four, core theatres that continues to thrive today. The other three off-off Broadway theatres that composed this core included Joe Cino’s Caffe Cino, Al Carmine’s Judson Poets Theatre, and Ralph Cook’s Theatre Genesis. (Crespy 67) More than any other off-off Broadway programmer, Stewart reached out beyond the East Village location, forcing new trends rather than following.
Today, La MaMa’s mission is dedicated to the artist as opposed to the playwright. La MaMa’s website, http://lamama.org/ declares it’s mission:
'La MaMa is dedicated to the artist. Ever since Ellen Stewart founded La MaMa in 1961, our interest has been in the people who make art, and it is to them that we give our support with free theater and rehearsal space, lights, sound, props, platforms, and whatever else we have that they can use to create their work. We want them to feel free to explore their ideas, and translate them into a theatrical language that can communicate to any person in any part of the world.'