La MaMa Blogs

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Artistic Directors’ International Online Meetings

 Artistic Directors’ International Online Meetings



Artistic Directors’ International Online Meetings


Broadcast from Nov 24th Dec 6th 2020, for free 

Available in both Japanese and English

TMT website:


Session1 (English (Japanese



As the host panelist from Japan, Hideki Noda of Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre joins the talk.

Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre(TMT) organize “Artistic Directors International Online Meeting” as a special edition of TMT Autumn Selection of Tokyo Festival. Tokyo Festival have decided to hold the festival this year, in the belief that an international performing arts festival is needed to prevent Tokyo from closing its diverse circuits. Therefore, as a part of the festival, TMT specially invite world leading artists and directors with whom TMT planned to work together this year or with whom TMT have a strong bond, to get together online and hold hot discussion. Hideki Noda, the artistic director of TMT will join as the host panelist. Such a gorgeous gathering which would not have been realized if it is nor for this occasion, will extend the exciting talk. 2 sessions of online discussion will be held with ZOOM, and the recording will be streamed for about two weeks.

SESSION 1:   Theatre artists about our times

The world’s leading directors discuss how the theatre of our times will survive this situation. Throughout history, theatre has experienced similarly difficult moments: plague, shutdowns, lockdowns. In the times of Shakespeare, for example. Can such disasters redefine it or not?

Guest Panelists

Didier Deschamps (Théâtre National de Chaillot)

Thomas Ostermeier (Schaubühne)

Ivo Van Hove (Internationaal Theater Amsterdam)

Host Panelist

Hideki Noda (Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre)


Octavian Saiu (theatre critic)

SESSION2: The present and the future of Art Festivals

The modern festival culture started after WWII, in a ruined world, when festivals became platforms of joy. What can we learn from this crisis and how could art festivals fulfill this mission again now? What is the role of international art festivals now?

Guest Panelist

Constantin Chiriac(Sibiu International Festival)

Yi-Ruu Liu(National Theater and Concert Hall, Taipei)

Host Panelist

Hideki Noda(Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre)


Octavian Saiu(theatre critic)

Video messages from:

Mark Ball(Manchester International Festival),

Tisa Ho(Hong Kong Arts Festival),

Damien Jalet(choreographer),

Robert Lepage(director, playwright, actor. Ex Machina),

Silviu Purcarete(director),

Mia Yoo(Artistic Director, La MaMa)

Monday, October 26, 2020

Interview with Split Britches (Lois Weaver & Peggy Shaw)

La MaMa: How would you describe Split Britches’ work?

Lois Weaver: It’s personal. It’s queer. It’s autobiographical, but it’s not autobiography that looks at our lives; it’s a way to use our lives to look at other things that are going on in the world. We look at things from our own personal points of view and combine those things, combine issues with personal experience to create primarily a text-based but also imagistic kind of performance that’s rooted in popular culture, humor, and queer and feminist aesthetics.

La MaMa: Have the current conditions of the world influenced your creative practice? If so, how?

Peggy Shaw: We’re very lucky because our work has always been based in what we’re going through, and it’s never been separate from our theatrical life. Our personal life and performance life have always informed each other. I went to London to rehearse Last Gasp for La MaMa in the spring for our opening of the show, and of course, I got there, and the pandemic really hit. And then the second show we had after La MaMa, which was Barbican, also got postponed, so I had nowhere to live. These wonderful people we know in London talked to their neighbor, and they gave them a key and said we just bought a house but we can’t do anything with it right now – it’s empty. It’s a Victorian house with a backyard. So we stayed in it for five months, and because we had the energy to make a show, we made a movie of the show with everything we had.

What did we have? We had two computers; we had a video camera which we didn’t use. We used Zoom. We made a Zoom Last Gasp, and it’s almost finished. Today’s the first time we’ve seen the whole thing all together as a total, complete work, and La MaMa’s going to present it in November. We think that because we are lucky and we didn’t know anybody who had COVID, and we’ve gone through things in our lives like the AIDS crisis, and starvation, and no money, we know how to survive. So we just survived, and actually did really well and have been very excited.

Lois Weaver: Peggy said something quite important, which underlines what I said. We make work from our lives. We use our work to help us understand what it is we’re going through. We always used our performance almost as a methodology for figuring out life. The other important thing she said is that we work with what we’ve got. We’ve always just worked with what we’ve got, so what we had was the necessity to stay home. How it has changed our work and or lives is that we’ve had to, in a sense, stay home in ways that we haven’t before. We’re usually all over the place, and we make our work all over the place. But there is a certain sense of what it means to stay, to be home, that’s changed, and we’ve been working with that. And that is an essential part of the residency. We’ve been working on something called Sheltered in Place. What does it mean to be sheltered, and what does it mean to be in one place, and what comes out of that? Those are the questions we’re asking.

La MaMa: Tell us about Care Café. What made you start it and how has it evolved since then?

Lois Weaver: I started it right after Donald Trump was elected president. Peggy and I had been going downtown and texting for Hillary [Clinton], and we had enjoyed the camaraderie of being in one place with people we didn’t necessarily know but having nice conversations and doing something. After he was elected, it felt like we needed to have a wake, or we needed to have an opportunity like a wake where people come together and acknowledge the circumstance of loss in this case. I also wanted to reclaim that feeling of being in a place with people I didn't necessarily know, having good conversations, and doing something. So, I used that structure to create this thing called the Care Café to give us a chance to come together and start to heal. I used that experience as what I call a protocol. It feels like a café. It looks like a room setup like a café. People walk in and sit down with people you probably don’t know and start to have very informal conversations while you are making something, or painting something, or cutting and pasting something, or writing postcards – all under a roof of care. There’s no agenda, and there’s no discussion led by anyone in particular. It’s just a way to be together. The activity that we do, and there’s different activities each time, is just a way to take our mind off things so we can have proper conversations.

Peggy Shaw: I always think of a story when Lois’ mother finally had a couple of her kids raised, and she was going to go out to work and she was so excited. She put on her shoes and jacket and left the house, and she found out she was pregnant with Lois. She just went back into the house, took off her coat, put on the coffee, and started over. It’s just that – not even trying to control anything, but it’s just, ok, how are we going to survive this? It’s survival without anxiety in a way.

The worst part of the pandemic seems to be a lot of people grinding their teeth and not sleeping. It’s true, of course, especially when you have no money to pay your rent, but there is something about just saying: Well that didn’t work. Let’s make a new life. Let’s go back to what we think of as the old America, not what Donald Trump thinks of it, but people planning new wonderful things that don’t manipulate a system but just make a new system.

La MaMa: Tell us about your residency with La MaMa this season.

Lois Weaver: We’re always in residence at La MaMa. Even when we’re not there, we are somehow at home in La MaMa. We know that it’s always our home ,and we’re always considered as family, and we’re always connected. Even now in doing these digital residencies, and a little bit later we will be in physical residency, it doesn’t matter. We are always there. We are always at home there. That feels like a really important backdrop for the work we’re trying to do now.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

La MaMa Launches Patreon Memberships

La MaMa is launching Patreon Memberships to view this season's Online Happenings on-demand as well as special events and selections from the La MaMa Archive.

All of La MaMa's Online Happenings will remain free 
when broadcast live this season.

Join for as little as $2 per month!

Become a Patron!

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

La MaMa Stands With Belarus

On the evening of September 9, 2020, exactly one month after the elections in Belarus, cultural organizations around the world joined Belarus Free Theatre’s Global Artistic Campaign in Solidarity with Belarus by lighting up our facade (with help from CultureHub's Sangmin Chae and Billy Clark).

Since the election, Belarus has witnessed its biggest protests in modern history, as the Belarusian people have defied threats of a government crackdown to continue protesting the falsified election results. This weekend more than 100,000 people filled Independence Avenue in Minsk calling for Alexander Lukashenko to step down, with marches also taking place in 33 cities across the country, including Brest, Vitebsk and Grodno. The EU has stated that it does not recognize Lukashenko as Belarus’s president and is moving forward with targeted sanctions on members of his regime.



Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Interview With Downtown Icon Yoshiko Chuma

LA MAMA: How would you describe your work as an artist? 

YOSHIKO CHUMA: For me, inspiration and creation are a kind of laboratory, almost like a science. I am always observing; always had a vision, in a very mathematical sense. Very often, we want to be categorized. Am I a dancer? Yes. Am I a choreographer? Yes. I direct for the theatre, yes. I can be an actor, a performer, a designer – yes. I am really more of a scientist, or a mathematician. 

My work with The School of Hard Knocks comes from the idea that you learn the hard way, and you are often uncomfortable when you don’t know where you’re landing. Those ideas are almost always present in my productions. 

LA MAMA: Tell us about your Saturday Morning Live: Zooma - Dead End - series and your upcoming 24-hour performance, Love Story: The School of Hard Knocks. 

YOSHIKO CHUMA: When I came to NY, I went to a taping of Saturday Night Live. I’ve known Lenny Pickett [musical director of SNL] and his wife Kathy [dancer] since 1978-79. Kathy called me one day and said, “what are you doing on Saturday?” So, we went, and I observed, and it’s very interesting how SNL participates with the audience. 

When you are watching SNL in your living room, you see advertisements. But when you’re there live, and they call “CUT,” you see every single change…the set, the costumes, every kind of person coming through; stage managers, special guests…and it’s moment-to-moment until they go, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Hello!” The most interesting part is the bridge between segments, from one kind of a world to another. That style is implemented with my production. Love Story: The School of Hard Knocks is exciting because it may be the first of my productions that is looking at the future, not the past. We’re working onsite with two cameras, online with Zoom, and with pre-recorded “advertisements,” so there are three layers of media. 

LA MAMA: Have the current conditions of the world influenced your creative practice? If so, how? 

YOSHIKO CHUMA: I say yes and no. I’ve been holding Zoom rehearsals…I became a Zoom expert. I am a visual artist too, and since 1979, I’ve made 16-millimeter films. Online, you don’t hand-cut the film. That’s not how video editing works anymore. The pandemic introduces an interesting bridge in approach. Communication is very different. It also opens the door to work overseas. With this project, I can include artists from Tehran, Venezuela, Palestine, and Turkey. They are working with my Manhattan group of artists. And that’s really very beautiful.

Watch Yoshiko Chuma's 24-hour performance, Love Story, School of Hard Knocks live on Saturday, October 17th at 11am to Sunday, October 18 at 11am.