La MaMa Blogs: What Does Working at La MaMa Mean To You?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

What Does Working at La MaMa Mean To You?

The 53rd season has come to an end at La MaMa after another wonderful year featuring dozens of different artists performing in 80+ productions and working in our art spaces on the Lower East Side! There is no better time to reflect on our mission dedicated to the artists and all aspects of the theatre. 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. Here are some thoughtful quotes from old friends and new artists who spent time at La MaMa this season about what brought them to La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club and why they keep coming back:
"I love the family of people who work for La MaMa and the brilliant leadership of Mia Yoo. I feel very lucky to have a place like La MaMa where I can go and concentrate on nothing but the work -- it’s not about business or success or anything like that at La MaMa; it’s all about the work and that’s like finding an oasis in the desert."
"La MaMa means a collective ensemble mentality which I look for first and foremost in a company."
"To me, La MaMa will always mean Ellen Stewart. Her aura extends way beyond her death." 
~ Keith McDermott, The Floatones
"Working at La Mama means having the freedom and space to create what I feel compelled to create, right now."
"I was introduced to this amazing institution for the first time in 2008, in Italy, at their splendid villa in Umbria, when I took part in their playwrights’ retreat. It was for me the first time in such an artistic ‘island’ in the company of writers and artists from all over the world. I think I learned more about collaboration and inspiration in those ten days than in the whole rest of my life."
"The big room of the Ellen Stewart Theater at La Mama is a holy space for me."
"When you are a small company, that has to create work on ​​ ​a shoestring, because you have ​to keep creating​ otherwise you shrivel up and die on the inside, when you have been working like that for so long, and then a place as meaningful and inspiring a place as La MaM​a lets you in, it feels like being embraced." 
~ Andi Stover, Noodles Astray
"I only had the pleasure of meeting (founder) Ellen Stewart a handful of times, but the one thing she taught me is to be unafraid while being human. Be assertive, maybe even aggressive with your art, but with humility and kindness to those around you."
~ Christian De Gré, The Dream Vault Cycle
"Working at La MaMa means Manhattan respectability at last in my old age - bet you didn't know I was a serious experimental playwright."
~ Dick Zigun, Dead End, Dummy
"La MaMa means home, family." 
~ Catherine Filloux, Selma ’65
"You don't know how proud I am to be able to be a part of this legacy. This run at La MaMa has far reaching implications of happiness, acceptance and self worth."
~ Richard E. Waits, MaMa Rose
"Ellen Stewart, who I will always consider my mentor, was one of the most influential people in my life - she influenced my vision of the world." 
~ Elia K. Schneider, Judgment on a Gray Beach
"When Talking Band work at La MaMa we feel that we are part of creative family which includes the many artists who work here and the La MaMa staff who work with such dedication, understanding, and love to support the work."
~ Paul Zimet, The Golden Toad
‘It feels like an artistic home I’m returning to.’ 
~ Marietta Hedges, Selma ’65
"It's an honor to be able to work at such an incredible place!"
~ Lucy Alibar, INCOMING! Throw Me on the Burnpile and Light Me Up

Looking forward, keep an eye out for the new season on our website and consider making a tax-deductible donation!

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