La MaMa Blogs: February 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

6 Questions: Laura Townsend

Laura Townsend of L’Atelier Theatre Productions stars in the upcoming production of Jean Genet's The Maids at La MaMa.  This production is performed in the original French and will be at The First Floor Theatre from March 2 - March 19. 2017.  Laura took a break from rehearsals to answer our 6 Questions.

1. What is the mission of L’Atelier Theatre Productions?

L’Atelier Theatre Productions supports emerging French theater artists in New York. L’Atelier Theatre Productions aims at presenting bold and inspiring French plays to a New York audience in the original language. We intend to build a New York-based community of artists, hailing from European horizons, who are ready to blend the American and European heritages here in New York. 

2. Why did you choose to produce the Maids?

This production emerged from the desire to play Genet’s text in the original language, to explore the play’s psychological universe as well as its political ramifications. The play Genet wrote is full of dramatic and psychological subjects: homosexuality, criminality, guilt, deceit, treason and ultimately death. That is what attracted me to the play at first.

Playing the text in French allows the actors to recapture the inner poetry of Genet’s writing. All the play’s themes are hidden under a coating of flowers. The language is very poetic. Genet is at once a classical writer, a symbolist poet, and a revolutionary.

The relationship that links the two sisters is really the core of the play to me. I’m interested in exploring what’s hidden in those characters. What is it that they’re hiding and what is it that they’re willing to show? Madam is only ‘the pretext’ - as Claire says - for their games. What is in fact at stake for them is the torture caused by a secret that is impossible to confess and which inextricably ties them together.

And then there is the question of power. In the current political context, one cannot help but relate the brutal relationship between the Mistress Madam and the enslaved maids to the stark rapport de force we are witnessing between classes in America today. The play has something quite interesting to say about that. It shows how all the characters are in fact responsible for maintaining this co-dependence. The Maids identify to Madam, her beauty, her wealth, her prestige. She is a star. And this identification, this abyssal love for her, is what explains their inability to escape.

3. Tell us about who you play in the show.

I play Claire in the show. She’s the younger sister. The show revolves around 3 characters: Claire & Solange who are the two sisters, the two maids, and Madame who is the mistress. The role of Claire is intricate. She goes in different directions, desperately looking for a sense of self. She’s always been the underdog, under Solange, who herself is the underdog of Madam. So, she’s always been at the lower level of the hierarchy and she suffers a lot from that. Most importantly, she suffers from being stuck in an inextricable relationship with her sister that is killing her from the inside.

The two characters are inspired from the Papin sisters. The Papins became infamous in France in the 30s for committing a horrific murder. After many years in service, they killed their mistress and her daughter for a rather insignificant reason, plucked their eyes out, lacerated their legs and exposed their genitals. The murder marked the collective psyche in France for decades, inspiring many interpretations as well as multiple artistic adaptations, including The Maids.

So, in the play, we live in a disturbed psychological realm where the internal lives of these characters are projected on the outside. The world that we see is the representation of what is happening inside these women. And tragically, Claire’s world is a world that she cannot live in.

4. Who inspires you?

Sources of inspiration for this play have been various. Some of them come from the psychological field. French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan wrote an article about the Papin case in 1934 that was published in the surrealist magazine Le Minotaure. Lacan’s article illuminates the intricacies of the psychological relationships between the characters. He talks about the real sisters, the Papin sisters themselves. I think Genet was attracted to the story because he had some links to it, at least in an imaginary way. He was himself a thief, a “ criminal”, he spent most of his youth in prison. He describes himself as an outcast. He was an orphan, like the sisters. So, using that text has been very useful to better understand the characters.

In the same vein, Haneke’s movie Funny Games exemplifies the type of relationship that the sisters have. It also questions the responsibility that we all have in perpetuating and feeding representations of sadism & violence. Likewise, Genet promotes a theater where the audience is placed in front of their own hidden and violent desires.

On another note, I went to see Declan Donnellan’s version of Ubu Roi at Lincoln Center two years ago. He had cast a team of French actors who were playing Ubu in the original French with subtitles. The work was absolutely visceral. It was incredible to watch. As a French person living in NY and an artist based in NY, it was so joyful to me to see the mix of the French repertoire with the “anglo-saxon theater approach” if one may call it that. Declan Donnellan is a Shakespeare specialist. Applying the work on Shakespeare to the French canon and especially to that play created such an incredible experience. When I watched the show, I thought: “that is exactly what I want to be doing here in NY”. I am originally French; I grew up in Paris. I was raised with the French classics and I also trained as an actor here in NY at Columbia University. I feel that my mission is to bring the French texts here, the plays that vibrate with me, to an American audience. Those kinds of shows are usually imported from Europe, already made. They’re presented here, not produced here. That is really what we are trying to create with L’Atelier Theater Productions: a community of artists who are based in New York and who can use their European roots to present their own heritage here.

5. What is the last film or play or dance that you liked?

I went to see The Present with Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh. It was amazing. I absolutely love Sydney Theater Company. The company’s Uncle Vanya was a cornerstone performance. The way the company approaches Chekhov is extremely exciting. It is exactly the contrary of what we usually reproach Chekhov for: it’s not boring for a second! The ensemble work is so strong. The characters are real. Its’ exciting, entertaining theater, relevant to our times. I had a blast!

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

Oh it means a lot. We were so grateful to Mia for inviting us to La MaMa. When I started this project, the ideal place I had in mind was La MaMa. I was wondering if we could ever do it here. We have a very strong connection with La MaMa because we are Columbia graduates. Oliver, the director, myself and the musical composer Leah Lawrence are all Columbia graduates. So, we have been trained by some of the people who started their own careers at La MaMa and who were also instrumental in founding La MaMa. That is Andrei Serban, who was our mentor at Columbia, Niky & Ulla Wolcz who are part of the Umbria project. For that reason, La MaMa was a natural place for us to present the show; and because it has a long history of presenting classics readapted and in the original language, there was really no other place we could have dreamt of to be presenting the show. This is an incredible opportunity that Mia offered to us and we could not be more grateful.
It also feels like we are part of a continuum of artists. As I said, our own teachers and mentors started at La MaMa 40 years ago and, did you know that The Maids was presented for the first time at La Mama in ’64? The work was radical, unsurprisingly, and here we are experimenting with the play more than 50 years later in the same theater. We feel very connected to those generations of artists who have made La Mama and who have been “made” by La MaMa.

I also feel grateful that there is still in the city theater that supports emerging artists the way La MaMa does. The first time we met with Mia, I was stunned by how welcoming and generous Mia was and how normal it was for her to support emerging artists. It’s not just a mission, it’s a reality. And that is pretty rare today in the current theater economy. That is very precious. We oftentimes forget the necessity of what we are doing, which is creating art, and hopefully good art. La MaMa is a place that allows for that.


La MaMa presents
Directed by Oliver HenzlerMusical Composition by Leah LawrenceFeaturing Laura Lassy Townsend, Cloe Xhauflaire & Helene Godec
March 02 - March 19, 2017
Thursday at Saturday at 7:30PM; Sunday at 2PM

First Floor Theatre
74A East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Part ritual / part wrestling match, One-in-Themselves is a physical and vocal venture; a call to unbridle the deep desires and fears of the silenced woman.


La MaMa presents

Conceived, Directed, and Performed by Sophie Bortolussi and Sara Galassini

March 03 - March 12, 2017 
Fridays & Saturdays at 10pm, Sundays at 6pm 

The Club @ La MaMa
74A East 4th Street (3rd Floor)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $20 Adults; $15 Students/Seniors; ten tickets are available for every performance for $10 each, advance sales only, as part of La MaMa 10 @ $10 ticketing initiative.

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

6 Questions: Oliver Henzler

L'Atelier Theatre Productions brings their production of The Maids to La MaMa from March 2 - 19, 2017.  All performances of The Maids will be performed in French, with English supertitles.  Director Oliver Henzler took a break from rehearsals to answer our 6 Questions.  You can read them here:

1. What made you want to direct The Maids?
The idea was brought to me by my colleague and collaborator Laura Townsend. Upon reading it, I was astonished by the force of the play - the power that Genet generates in the interaction of only three characters. I was drawn to the great need all three have to find their way, their voice, to free themselves of the shackles of dependency, be it financial, social, familial dependency. The question that fascinates me is: how do we as humans truly individuate? In the midst of our intricate enmeshmeshments, how do we stand tall and maturely express and live who we are? Genet's “The Maids” speaks to the strength and courage that is required to achieve this goal.

2. In what way(s) do you think the play still speaks to audiences in 2017?
The play certainly echoes themes that will remind many of our current political climate and social discourse: twitter-like blame and victim language, narcissistic obsession with appearances and representation, the cry for change and revolt - but maybe more pertinent and important than all, the play speaks about the deep desire and need for connection.

3. You are directing a French language production in NYC, how has that effected the way you are approaching the production?
First off, I love the French language and so it has been a treat for me delve into Genet's original words and hear them brought to life by native French speakers. Working in a foreign language has sharpened my ear to the theatrical language on stage. The goal: to understand the world of the play in a visceral way without understanding every spoken word or reading the translation in the supertitles. Of course, it has also widened my empathetic sensibility to our vast multi-cultural city of New York. The appreciation of another language, another culture in our midst and the opportunity to providing the space and time for it to be experienced and appreciated by the community as a whole.

4. Who has influenced your work?
I grew up in Germany and early exposure to Goethe, Brecht and Büchner are certainly part of my theatrical DNA. Teachers such as Anne Bogart, Niky Wolcz and Andrei Serban were wonderful guides along my journey of learning about the theater and its mysteries. British performer and educator Nila Aalia taught me her theater approach called Synapsing. It helped me unlock my creative resources and is the foundation of the work I use in the rehearsal room. My two artistic inspirations are Mark Morris for his discipline, grace and mischief, and Peter Brook for his simplicity, magic and wisdom. As Brook likes to say, the word for acting in the German (‘spielen’) and French language (‘jouer’) is 'to play.' This is the root of my process: play to create and to connect.

5. What is the last good book you read?
Intelligence in the Flesh: why your mind needs your body much more than it thinks by Guy Claxton. As a Feldenkrais practitioner, I'm very passionate about advances in neuroscience and how it can help us prove the importance of the body's intelligence. Claxton elegantly and humorously explains how pervasive and outdated the Cartesian mind-body dualism is and how we can learn to understand ourselves as the wonderfully complex holistic system that we are.

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?
It is a true privilege. I am deeply touched by La MaMa's support and dedication to the artist. It is disarming to have the LaMaMa family put their trust in us as we build our work. And of course, I am very aware of the incredible history of this place. I am proud and humbled to be able to work here with this wonderful ensemble.


La MaMa presents
Directed by Oliver HenzlerMusical Composition by Leah LawrenceFeaturing Laura Lassy Townsend, Cloe Xhauflaire & Helene Godec
March 02 - March 19, 2017
Thursday at Saturday at 7:30PM; Sunday at 2PM

First Floor Theatre
74A East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

NY1 Looks at the 2017 American Human Beatbox Festival

NY1 previes the 2017 American Human Beatbox Festival which comes to La MaMa this week Thursday February 23 - Sunday February 26, 2017.

Watch the preview: HERE

La MaMa presents

7th Annual 

Human Beat Box 

The Return of The Vocal Wars
Curated by Kid Lucky

“La MaMa is excited to present beatboxers in our theater, to give them a platform outside of the club scene,” says La MaMa Artistic Director, Mia Yoo. “We want audiences to experience beatboxing as an art form that communicates across generations and cultures.” The American Human Beatbox Festival is curated by Kid Lucky, a renowned beat-MC who has the unique ability to simultaneously create vocal beats and rhyme.
Full schedule here

Advance tickets 2 for $20 with code '2420'

For Tickets, Info and Full Schedule: CLICK HERE

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

6 Questions: Lars Øyno

La MaMa brings Grusomhetens Teater's production of Henrik Ibsen's unfinished opera libretto The Mountain Bird to The Ellen Stewart Theatre for 4 performances - March 2 - 5, 2017.  This will be the US premiere of The Mountain Bird and director Lars Øyno answered 6 Questions about the show, Artaud and directing this unfinished text by Ibsen. 
Q: What was the original inspiration behind deciding to stage Ibsen’s The Mountain Bird?

A: After many years of staging physical performances in the name of the French theatre poet Antonin Artaud, I thought it was time to make a change in the repertoire. Not leaving Artaud, but together with him--seeing if there could be other horizons to conquer. By coincidence I found Ibsen’s unfinished opera libretto, and thought this could lead to a change.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in staging The Mountain Bird?
A: The biggest challenge was to mount the complicated songs on stage.

Q: How is this production different than other Grusomhetens Teater productions?
A: This time our spectacle appears like a theatre performance from the 1860`s – a "costume drama."

Q: Who inspires you?
A: The Marx Brothers.

Q: What is the last good book you read?
A: Enid Starkie, Arthur Rimbaud: A Biography.

Q: What does working at La MaMa mean to you?
A: All I’ve done so far as a director of Grusomhetens Teater for these past 25 years has lead me to the point where Artaud can now have the opportunity to speak on this legendary stage.


La MaMa presents
The Mountain BirdDirected by Lars Øyno
Original Score by Filip Sande

March 02 - March 05, 2017Thursday to Saturday at 7PM; Sunday at 4PM

Ellen Stewart Theatre 66 East 4th Street New York, NY 10003
Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors; ten tickets are available for every performance for $10 each, advance sales only, as part of La MaMa's 10 @ $10 ticketing initiative.

For tickets and info: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


"The Last Days of Judas Iscariot will receive a rare New York revival this spring at The Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa (66 East 4th Street) with previews beginning March 9th, 2017 for a limited Off-Broadway engagement through March 26th. Opening Night is set for Monday, March 13, 2017 at 7pm.

Academy Award winner and long time member of The Actors Studio Estelle Parsons directs a cast that includes Richarda Abrams, Bob Adrian, Victor Almanzar, Erick Betancourt, Michael Billingsley, Fig Chilcott, Suzanne DiDonna, Lash Dooley, Timothy Doyle, Gabe Fazio, Gabriel Furman, Leland Gantt, Daniel Grimaldi, Shashwat Gupta, Con Horgan, Liana Jackson, Jay Johnston, Burnadair Lipscomb-Hunt, Beth Manspeizer, Javier Molina, Marcus Naylor, Myla Pitt, Joanna Rhinehart, Delissa Reynolds, and Count Stovall."

Read the full BroadwayWorld article: HERE

10@$10 Tickets are going fast so buy now!


La MaMa presents

The Last Days 

of Judas Iscariot

Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis 
Directed by Estelle Parsons

March 09 - March 26, 2017

Thursday to Saturday at 7PM; Sunday at 4PM *additional performance Monday, March 13 at 7PM

Ellen Stewart Theatre 

66 East 4th Street (2nd Floor)

New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $20 Adults; $15 Students/Seniors; ten tickets are available for each performance for $10 each, advance sales only - first come first served.

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Talkbacks Schuduled with Benghazi-Bergen-Belsen Author Yossi Sucary

Benghazi-Bergen-Belsen author Yossi Sucary will participate in two post-show discussions following performances of the stage adaptation of his novel on Friday, March 24th and Sunday, March 26th.

Yossi Sucary is an Israeli author. Yossi writes in a universal perspective about issues of identity and place. His books deal with meta physical questions, as well as with socio-political question of Oriental Jews in Israel and world-wide. Yossi has received a number of exclusive literature prizes for his work: the Brenner Prize for Hebrew Literature, the Prime Minister Prize for Hebrew Literature, and the Washington Israeli Institute Prize. Yossi’s books are taught at many universities in Israel. His latest book, “From Benghazi to Bergen-Belsen,” tells the story of the Holocaust of Oriental Jewry and was chosen by the Ministry of Education to be part of the Holocaust curriculum for high school students in Israel. Yossi is a philosophy teacher focusing on analytical and continental philosophy of the 20th century.

Benghazi – Bergen-Belsen is an original play based on the novel of the same name by Yossi Sucary. Tracing the story of the holocaust of the Jews of Libya, the play gives voice to a larger cultural narrative that is conspicuously absent from prevalent stories of the Jewish holocaust. By citing the marginalized racial politics of the holocaust, the show urges a reconsidering of both historical and contemporary religious, cultural, and racial oppression and violence. Underscoring the contemporary urgency of the story, the play features both historical and present-day images of New York, Europe, Syria, Africa, and the Middle East.


La MaMa presents

Benghazi Bergen-Belsen

Written and conceived by Lahav Timor 

Based on the novel by Yossi Sucary 
Directed by Michal Gamily

March 23 - April 09, 2017

Thursday to Saturday at 8PM; Sunday at 3PM

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

Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors; ten tickets are available for every performance for $10 each, advance sales only, as part of La MaMa's 10@$10 ticketing initiative.

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Reviews Are In Hi-Fi | Wi-Fi | Sci-Fi

Hi-Fi | Wi-Fi | Sci-Fi restages five original plays by one of La MaMa's first playwrights, not as vintage nostalgia, but as startingly contemporary works far ahead of their time! In the 1960s and 1970s, playwright Robert Patrick led an underground theatre movement that questioned the future through a series of quirky, minimalist science fiction plays.

Find out what the press is saying about this performance:

"what makes this powerful theater is not artistic theory but the galvanizing and immersive experience of each of the plays. Directors Billy Clark, Jason Trucco, and Park Il Kyu brilliantly orchestrate each of the pieces using video, traditional staging, and a changing environment to enroll the audience in each piece.
- Gay City News

"This is the kind of downtown theatre I want to see more of. “Hi-Fi | Wi-Fi | Sci-Fi” is a unique, vibrant production that explores technology and human consciousness while using looping – or perhaps, I should call it mirroring – as a tool to take the audience into a whirlwind of intrigue. I loved this show. It was full of surprising delights and capturing performances."
- NY Theatre Guide

"engaging and interactive" 

"interesting, fun, and easy show to watch and enjoy"

"impeccable acting and production values, and in that regard, Hi Fi | Wi Fi | Sci Fi is certainly a success"

"Robert Patrick's plays certainly leave a lasting impression."

La MaMa and CultureHub present

Hi-Fi / Wi-Fi / Sci-Fi
Predictions Past Present and Future
Written by Robert Patrick
Directed by Billy Clark and Jason Trucco

February 2 - 19, 2017

Thursday - Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 3pm
*additional performance Monday, February 6th at 8pm

The Downstairs @ La MaMa

66 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE