La MaMa Blogs: September 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Photos From Our Sneak Peek of The Downstairs

Last night we held our Sneak Peek of the new space at La MaMa: The Downstairs.  
Here are some photos from the event, taken by Theo Cote:

La MaMa Board Chair Frank Carucci and Artistic Director Mia Yoo

Guests at the Sneak Peek

Linda Chapman and Nicky Paraiso

Board Member Eugene Chai with Michal Gamily and daughter and David Diamond

Kiku Sakai,  Mieko Vaitkevicius and Kaori Fujiyabu

Jennifer Ortega, Donald Russell and John Jesurun

Mia Yoo

Guests at the Sneak Peek

Mia Yoo, Mary Fulham and Eugene Chai ringing the bell for La MaMa

Prepping the bar

New York City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez

 Paul Zimet and Ping Chong

Monday, September 28, 2015

Memorial for Blondell Cummings

Memorial for Blondell Cummings will take place at New York Live Arts on Sunday October 4th 2015 from 5-7pm.

The memorial will include a video tribute to Blondell.

And speakers include:

Meredith Monk
Ralph Lemon
Kim Chan
Ishmael Houston-Jones
Nicky Paraiso
Ping Chong
Bebe Miller
Bill T. Jones

Followed by a reception in lobby.

Sunday October 4th 2015 from 5-7pm

New York Live Arts
219 W 19th Street 
(between 7th and 8th Avenues)
New York, NY 10011

NY Times obituary for Blondell Cummings: HERE

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Who's Who in the La MaMa Junior Committee: The Next Generation of Arts Donors!

La MaMa Junior Committee's FREE 54th Season Opening Party kicks off in Bushwick on Thursday, September 24th at 8PM at The Topaz! The Topaz, with a beautiful back room and garden space, will be the home to AMAZING ENTERTAINMENT provided by Shane Shane, face painting by Marina, drinking, dancing, socializing, and talking up the Junior Committee. No cover charge, delicious cocktails available for purchase at the Bar! 

La MaMa Junior Committee is a collection of brilliant young creative minds to form the next generation of arts donors! Members enjoy discounted tickets and exclusive access to our programs, artists, and staff while contributing to the heart of the La MaMa family. 

Name: Julia Dobner - Pereira
Age: 25
Occupation: Graduate Student at NYU, Children's Acting Academy Teacher, Artist/Performer
# of years in Junior Committee: Founding Member

1) What drew you into the arts? 
The arts have been in my life since I was a child. Towards the end of high school, I committed seriously to classical voice, which also led me to delve further into theatre. Through La MaMa, i discovered the colorful kaleidoscopic world of experimental theatre and I'll never go back!

2) What inspired you to join La MaMa Junior Committee
I started working at La MaMa in 2013 and helped create the Junior Committee in 2014. I love the energy of the JC. It is one of my favorite things about La MaMa.

3) What has been your favorite Junior Committee Event? Why? 
The Dance Cartel Party! Wild party with dancing, incredible performances from THE DANCE CARTEL, and an impromptu street dance session afterwards courtesy of Reggie Watts' car speakers...what more could you want?

4) Favorite performance you've seen at La MaMa? Why? 
It's a toss up - it is so hard to compare shows because we have such variety every season. My top 3 are TRASH CUISINE by Belarus Free Theatre, THE ELEPHANT IN EVERY ROOM I ENTER by Gardiner Comfort, and SQUIRTS.

5) Which artist inspires you? Why? 
MOTUS --- an Italian company that creates politically charged, aesthetically arresting brave new work. I met MOTUS while at La MaMa Umbria in summer 2014 and then was lucky enough to help produce their show Nella Tempesta at La MaMa in November 2014. Look them up - they are so important!

6) What is your favorite karaoke song? 
LET IT GO because "let the storm rage ON".

Name: Kate Foster
Age: 27
Occupation: La MaMa Outreach Coordinator, Bandmember of Anna/Kate and Sean Cronin's Very Good! 
# of years in Junior Committee: 1 year

1) What drew you into the arts?
I was lucky enough to be an arty kid growing up in an arty home. My family is chock-full of theatre makers, visual artists, musicians, and- most importantly- artists in awe of other artists. I consider myself, still, an artist in awe of other artists.

2) What inspired you to join La MaMa Junior Committee?
The La MaMa Junior Committee holds true to an integral tenet of La MaMa (if not all theatre): communities do not appear on their own, we build them. We build them because we have to. At its founding 54 years ago, La MaMa appeared much like young artistic companies popping up today. La MaMa was founded to produce voices that were not getting opportunities elsewhere, or not getting opportunities paired with agency. La MaMa still gives these same opportunities to artists from around the world, and from every spectrum of New York's artistic/social/political scene.  I joined the Junior Committee because La MaMa is my community and my community thrives with support, growth, and general cheer-leading. And, hey, if you aren't already on board?... I hope you'll join me in Junior Committee's Year 2.

3) What has been your favorite Junior Committee Event? Why?
My favorite Junior Committee Event is tied between the best party I've been to, and the best karaoke I've EVER been to. The Dance Cartel threw a performance party this past May, with their new piece, "Wet Clutch," followed by a set from DJ Average Jo. I've been in mourning for a few queer parties I used to love going to, or hearing about (Hey Queen!, Confession) and this event had a similar hugged-by-endorphins feel. Later in the summer, I got to know other Junior Committee members at a social event, Karaoke Night. They sang "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" and it was game over.

4) Favorite performance you've seen at La MaMa? Why?
MOTUS' "Alexis: A Greek Tragedy." The performances were fierce, physically impressive (understatement of the year) and entirely moving in their scope. I ended the night by getting on stage and joining them in a movement sequence. The show not only moved me that night- it moved me that year.

5) Which artist inspires you? Why?
I'm inspired by artists who hold themselves accountable, have unfathomable depths of emotional bravery, and a worldview equally grounded in the personal and the political-- Poets Timothy DuWhite (link: "Joy Revisited") and Nicole Goodwin (of Queer Arts Mentorship)... Directors Rebecca Wear (presently at Oregon Shakespeare Festival with Kate Whoriskey) and Patrice Miller... Artistic organizers and performers Lauren Whitehead (of Poetic Theater Production's Conscious Language Festival) and Sarah Duncan ("her play "Come Back Up" is at Judson and she is a guest curator for Poetry Electric Series at La MaMa)... Musicians Hurray for the Riff Raff, and Brooklyn's own "looper" SHIRA E and rapper Ish.... I'd be remiss not to mention the people in my bands- Anna/Kate and Very Good!- who hold me accountable every day. Everyone on this list has challenged my thought processes, and written some kind of love letter to my heart. The great thing about life is I just keep adding to the list.

6) What is your favorite karaoke song?
Definitely a Spice Girls number. #sportyforlife

Name: Kelly O'Hara
Age: 23
Occupation: Tech Startup Founder
# of years in Junior Committee: New Member

1) What drew you into the arts? 
In 2nd grade I was Narrator #2 in my class’s performance of Frog and Toad. I’ve been a theater lover ever since, and I was a drama major in college.

2) What inspired you to join La MaMa Junior Committee? 
Since moving to New York I’ve really missed having a community of theater lovers. I thought joining the junior board would be a good way to fix that!

3) What has been your favorite Junior Committee Event? Why? 
I don’t know, I haven’t been to one yet! 

4) Favorite performance you've seen at La MaMa? Why? 
I saw Dark Matter for the first time when they performed as part of Under the Radar and it was a special performance. I really appreciated the chance to see work I really love performed at such an intimate venue. 

5) Which artist inspires you? Why?  
Anna Deavere Smith was the first documentary playwright I read, and her work inspired my senior thesis production in college. I love the reality in her work, and that she doesnt shy away from difficult subject matter. From an acting perspective, I really enjoy that she challenges herself in her solo work to portray such a diverse range of characters in a way that doesn’t feel campy. 

6) What is your favorite karaoke song? 
Back to Black by Amy Winehouse or Say it Ain’t So by Weezer

Name: Romana Soutus
Age: 22
Occupation: Actor/Playwright at La MaMa ETC
# of years in Junior Committee: Founding Member (so, since its inception a year ago)

1) What drew you into the arts? 
When I was in 1st grade my parents took me to a huge Picasso retrospective. It started with his last paintings and ended with his sketches from art school and in childhood. I remembered seeing a particular sketch and thinking “I can do that”, and I begged my mom to give me my allowance early, bought a sketchpad and some pencils in the gift shop, and spent the rest of my time there sitting in front of that sketch drawing it again and again. I knew I wanted to be an artist ever since.

2) What inspired you to join La MaMa Junior Committee? 
I believe in La MaMa. Its my home and my family. I’ve been so incredibly lucky to do my work here and I think every person, young or old, needs to see a show here because La MaMa takes risks, risks that not a lot of theaters in the city are really willing to take. Anything I can do to be a part of spreading the word is good for me.

3) What has been your favorite Junior Committee Event? Why? 
I loved our Dance Cartel event a lot. There was this reall beautiful moment at the end of the night when Reggie Watts was DJing a dance party out of his car stereo and all the stragglers from the party were outside dancing. It was organic and I don’t know many other places in the city that can facilitate that kind of experience.

4) Favorite performance you've seen at La MaMa? Why? 
I was a huge fan of “Trash Cuisine” by Belarus Free Theatre. They make incredibly brave stuff with a mastery of theatre. I also have a soft spot for the Foundry Theatre production of “Good Person of Szechwan” with Taylor Mac. The production seamlessly integrated the La MaMa scaffolding and tiered wooden platforms that are so iconic in the Ellen Stewart Theater. The production fit so perfecting in the space. Not to mention I’ve adored Taylor Mac for ages.

5) Which artist inspires you? Why?  
Jean Genet, without a doubt. He was ballsy and bold and demanded that people take a cold hard look at themselves all the while writing some of the most beautifully complex prose in his plays.

6) What is your favorite karaoke song? 
Ignition (Remix), hands down. Or anything from Fiddler on the Roof.

Name: James Ganley
Age: 24
Occupation: Recent Law School Graduate
# of years in Junior Committee: Founding Member

1) What drew you into the arts? 
The ability of the arts to act as an outlet for people’s creativity.

2) What inspired you to join La MaMa Junior Committee?
In college I worked on La MaMa’s Capital Campaign and learned about the organization’s history and the wonderful art that it was producing.  Once the Junior Committee was created, I jumped at the opportunity to stay involved.

3) What has been your favorite Junior Committee Event? Why?
The Dance Cartel Party.  The performance and follow up dance party showcased the energy that La MaMa brings to the East Village.

4) Favorite performance you've seen at La MaMa? Why?
Christmas in Nickyland.  The performance was so eclectic and fun. 

5) Which artist inspires you? Why?
My favorite artist at La MaMa is Nicky Paraiso.  He brings great energy to the stage and has been doing so for quite some time. 

6) What is your favorite karaoke song? 
Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance with Somebody

Name: Paola Pagano
Age: 27
Occupation: Illustrator and Graphic Designer
# of years in Junior Committee: Founding Member (from the very beginning) 

1) What drew you into the arts? 
Being an illustrator and designer, I’m a visual person. Though I do enjoy all arts and theater brings artists together in such a unique way; intertwining different talents in interesting and beautiful pieces of art.     

2) What inspired you to join La MaMa Junior Committee? 
I love La MaMa and its mission to foster local and international emerging artists encouraging them to be bold and to explore. I want to support in anyway I can an institution that offers a safe place for artist to grow and experiment. 

3) What has been your favorite Junior Committee Event? Why? 
If I had to pick one, it would be the Cartel Party, because it was an amazing party and while organizing it, I met so many wonderful people.   

4) Favorite performance you've seen at La MaMa? Why? 
“Tempest" was definitely my favorite show. I enjoyed the bareness of the stage and acting in particular I loved Reg Cathey's performance.  

5) Which artist inspires you? Why?  
Anish Kapoor, Grant Shaffer, Viktor Koen, Marjane Satrapi, Shirin Neshat, Toulouse Lautrec, Cezanne and more. I like different artist from different backgrounds. It’s hard to say why they inspire me, I guess whenever I relate to an art piece and I find something that makes me feel connected, understood I feel inspired.      

6) What is your favorite karaoke song? 

Interested in becoming a member of the La MaMa Junior Committee?!

Come meet all of the members of the La MaMa Junior committee and consider being a part of a thriving community of artists and professionals to gain access to the best downtown theatre has to offer! Come and bring friends to our free event on Thursday at 8pm to find out more! RSVP for the opening party on Facebook!

Visit our website to get more information about joining La MaMa Junior Committee!
Like us on Facebook for updates about upcoming events!

Monday, September 21, 2015

6 Questions: GRANDMA

MAKE PEOPLE, Parts 1 & 2 by GRANDMA comes to The Club @ La MaMa for six performances: October 23 - November 1, 2015.  MAKE PEOPLE, is a monologue for shared voice. It lies formally between stand up comedy and the confessional monologue. It's a show about the horror of intimacy, and our collective need to consume, acquire, and destroy. There will also be some fun surprises, and fresh beats.  We got to ask GRANDMA, (which is made up of: Tim Platt, Mike McGee, Ben Gansky, and Peter Mills Weiss) 6 Questions and here is what they said:

1.    What was the original inspiration for making MAKE PEOPLE Parts 1 & 2?

Tim: Coercion and Blank Performance

Mike: Male-Male Friendships: masculinity generally.

Ben: There was a part of our last show, SATURDAY, that felt like maybe it didn’t belong in that show, but we really liked it anyway. So after we finished with SATURDAY we started making more parts that felt like that one part had felt to us. And then we just kept on doing that until we had created a bunch of material that became the basis for MAKE PEOPLE .

Peter: There are a ton, but the most salient for me right now is the feeling of “destiny”. Not as in what your actual “destiny” is, but the feeling that you have one and that society wants you to have one. No matter the cost.

2.    What should audience expect from the show?

Tim: a Horror Story from a Template.

Mike: Laughter is the best medicine :)

Ben: Tasteful beats, childhood nightmares, and a collection of stories based on the adolescence of Peter Mills Weiss.

Peter: Some Music, but not a whole lot! Perhaps some surprises!!

3.    Will there be more parts?
Tim: Our next piece will focus on movement and farce. If Make People can bear the weight of our bodies and our humors then: yes, there will be more parts.

Mike: Yes! Parts 3 and 4 will be a companion piece covering similar material but told through rhyming couplets.

Ben: Seven is the magic number.

Peter: I’m not sure.  

4.    Do you have an idea for a project that hasn’t yet come to fruition?

Tim: I want to to turn the stage into a halfpipe.

Mike: I want to play Blanche Dubois at some point.
Ben: Yes. The main one is a shot-for-shot remake of High School Musical (the film). I’m not kidding.

Peter: I would like to do some sort of less conventional radio play. But my ideas don’t really go much farther than that!

5.    What book/books are you currently reading?

Tim: Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, the short stories of P.G. Wodehouse, The Door by Magda Szabo, Interaction of Color by Josef Albers.

Mike: Oh Dang. Always three to six things at once. I just finished Nevada by Imogen Binnie. Currently jumping between Binary Star by Sarah Gerard, and The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, while picking my way through The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony and Post Dramatic Theater in the background.
Ben: Like Mike, I’m constantly juggling a pile of books. Currently have bookmarks active in Seeing Power by Nato Thompson, Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists, Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview, Artificial Hells by Claire Bishop, The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison, Our Aesthetic Categories by Sianne Ngai. Finished Volume 4 of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle over the summer. It was great.

Peter: I tried to read this book called The Vorrh. I couldn’t finish it, however. It reminded me of a book I love, called Gormenghast, by Mervyn Peake. I reread some of that recently.

(Mike: We're a ton of fun at parties.)

6.    What does working at La MaMa mean to you?

Tim: Working at La MaMa means I can continue to explore the remarkable community of artists and theater makers in the east village.

Mike: I really love La Mama. There’s just such a wonderful sense of history and generous energy to the entire organization.

Ben: It’s thrilling to work in such close proximity to B&H Dairy. Also, what Peter and Mike said, for real.

Peter: Every artist I really admire has been affiliated with LaMaMa in one way or another, and I’m super excited to be a small part of that history.

La MaMa presents
PARTS 1 & 2
By Grandma - Mike McGee, Tim Platt, Ben Gansky, and Peter Mills Weiss

October 23 - November 1, 2015
Friday & Saturday at 10pm; Sunday 6pm

The Club @ La MaMa
74A East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $18 Adults; $13 Students/Seniors; ten $10 tickets available for every performance, in advance only

For Ticket and Info: CLICK HERE

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Memorial for Judith Malina

A Memorial for Judith Malina

October 4, 2015, 7pm 
(doors open at 6:15pm)

Ellen Stewart Theatre @ La MaMa
66 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

FREE to the public

Anne Waldman
Olympia Dukakis
Richard Schechner
Gordon Rogoff
Garrick Beck
and Special Guests

Music coordinated by Baba Israel
A special performance by The Living Theatre Ensemble
Refreshments will be served

RSVP List is Full.  Waiting List opens at 6:30pm, but admission is not guaranteed 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

6 Questions: Emily Colucci and Osman Can Yerebakan

Osman Can Yerebakan (left) and Emily Colucci (right)
Photo by Ryan Leach

Installation is currently underway for La MaMa Galleria’s first exhibition of the fall, Party Out Of Bounds: Nightlife As Activism Since 1980.  Opening this Friday, September 18, 2015, the show, organized with Visual AIDS, explores the connections between the AIDS pandemic and New York’s nightlife and artists. As pieces from the show’s 29 artists were arriving to the space, co-curators Emily Colucci and Osman Can Yerebakan spent a portion of their night discussing their curation process, the show’s generational aspect, and New York’s gentrification.

1. You’ve been working on Party Out Of Bounds for quite some time. How and when did the project get started?

Osman Can Yerebakan: Yes, when it opens this week, Party Out Of Bounds will be the result of a 2-year long project. We met at performance artist Ron Athey’s automatic writing workshop at Participant Inc in the summer of 2013. We share a certain perspective for art -- especially for the New York art scene -- and this led to submission of this proposal in the fall of 2013 to Visual AIDS’ annual curatorial call. Before that I started to contribute to Emily’s infamous blog Filthy Dreams with my take on various issues from art exhibitions to cronut mania. And here we are.

Emily Colucci: I’ve always been inspired by nightlife, particularly the nightlife in Lower Manhattan in the late 1970s and 1980s with performers such as John Sex, Ethyl Eichelberger, John Kelly and Dean Johnson, as well as artists like Keith Haring, David Wojnarowicz and Cookie Mueller. At Participant Inc, we started talking about David Wojnarowicz and that initial conversation led us to where we are now with the show.

2. Have your astrological signs been a good match for curating together?

O: I was born on July 14th, and my sign is cancer. To be honest, I am not sure what Emily’s sign is. I like to ask people what their astrological sign is (I have a crab tattoo on my right arm as a reference to my sign), but we never talked about it.

E: I’m an Aries– a loud-mouthed, opinionated and annoyingly stubborn sign, which are all qualities that Osman probably learned over the course of our two years curating together.

3. With so many artists involved across different generations, was it a very social curatorial process? 

O: Studio visits and meeting with artists have been some of the most memorable parts of this experience. As a curator, one gets exposure to so many different lives, apartments, studios and stories that this component becomes a crucial source of inspiration for the show, and this was definitely the case for this exhibition.

E: We started our first conversations and studio visits in the summer of 2014 and then just continued from there. With each studio visit, we were able to gain access to these artists’ memories of the intersection of nightlife and activism whether through ephemeral material they saved from clubs and bars or just through–at times–hours long conversations.

4. New York has undergone a lot of changes since 1980. Was that transition a factor in how you approached the show's theme?

E: I don’t think you could approach this show without recognizing the constant transitions in New York’s cultural, nightlife and just physical landscape whether through the HIV/AIDS pandemic or gentrification.

O: Gentrification is a subtle yet definitely accentuated part of this exhibition. Bygone clubs, bars or institutions are not only commemorated throughout the artworks on view, but also they are studied as territories of political standpoint. 

5. Do you think there’s a generational shift in how artists are using their practices for activist purposes? Who is the youngest artist in the show?

O: The youngest artist is Kia Labeija who is in her mid-20s. Although Kia, like many artists in this show and us the curators, did not witness the early days of the AIDS pandemic, there is definitely a sense of unity and sharing of a mutual language between younger and previous generations.

E: Frankly, I don’t see a shift in how artists are using their practices. Rather, there is an undeniable and powerful genealogy of art, activism and nightlife that creates a dialogue between multiple generations of artists. Kia, for example, is part of the House of LaBeija, one of the iconic houses in the ball scene.

6. What does working at La MaMa Galleria mean to you?

E: Working with La MaMa Galleria has been fantastic. I’m honored to be a part of the long and vibrant history of La MaMa through Party Out Of Bounds. As I said before, the cultural scene in Downtown Manhattan has been a source of inspiration for me for years and La MaMa is certainly an essential piece of that history. 

O: Matt, Sam and the whole La MaMa staff have been incredibly helpful throughout this journey.  We first met Matt and later Sam, and they both have managed to handle our heavy email traffic. We can’t wait to experience the future of La MaMa Galleria together.

La MaMa Galleria 
in association with Visual AIDS 

September 18 - 10, 2015
Wednesday - Sunday 1pm - 7pm

La MaMa Galleria
47 Great Jones Street
(between Bowery and Lafayette Street)
New York, NY 10001

Free Admission

For more info: CLICK HERE