La MaMa Blogs: 2018

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ondadurto Teatro Performs Terramia!

"To what extent does what we really are identify us and how much, on the contrary, does it categorise us?"

Ondadurto Teatro has arrived from Italy to perform TERRAMIA for American audiences December 13-16! 

This gorgeous and chiling multi-media performance art spectacle takes an irreverent look at humanity through the eyes of an android. This original work, accessible to a mixed international audience, uses text, movement, video, music and innovative scenography designed by creators Marco Paciotti and Lorenzo Pasquali, inspired by Physical Theatre, the Nouveau Cirque and Gesture Theatre.

Here's a behind the scenes look at Terramia:


December 13 - 16, 2018
Ellen Stewart Theatre | 66 East 4th Street (2nd Floor)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Queensborough Alumni to Appear in Chasing The New White Whale

Arthur Adair, Assistant Professor, Speech Communication and Theatre Arts, has cast four of his former outstanding acting students, Khari Constantine, Victoria A. Villier, Sabrina Fara Tosti, and Trey Adams in the new play, Chasing the New White Whale, by Michael Gorman. 
The play uses Melville’s 19th-century monster as a metaphor for the modern plague of opioid addiction, and the ruinous effects of the opiate epidemic on the commercial fishing industry. It opens November 24 and runs through December 9 at La MaMa, located at the iconic Ellen Stewart Theatre.
“There is no greater thrill than being able to work with Alumni in the professional arena, it is the true culmination of the work we began at Queensborough” said director Adair, who was an Artist-in-Residence at La MaMa from 1997-2007, “They are soaring in rehearsals, and thriving, among a company of seasoned actors, as artists in their own rights.”


Chasing the New White Whale
November 24 - December 09, 2018

Ellen Stewart Theatre | 66 East 4th Street (2nd Floor)
Thursday to Saturday at 7PM; Monday, Nov 26th at 7PM; Sunday at 3PM
Run Time: 2 Hours (with a 15 minute intermission)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Chasing the New White Whale Video Preview

In an ambitious new production—using Melville’s 19th-century monster as a metaphor for the modern plague of opioid addiction, playwright Michael Gorman explores the ruinous effects of the epidemic on the commercial fishing industry. CHASING THE NEW WHITE WHALE follows the plight of legendary New England fishing Captain Robby Foerster and his boat The Northern Star as he falls deeply into addiction after a fateful first encounter with heroin. Drawing inspiration from Moby Dick, the play connects Robby's addiction with Ahab’s obsessive pursuit of the Great White Whale, and re-imagines Captain Ahab's final thrilling chase in Moby Dick.

Featuring a mythical chorus of ghostly whale hunters and modern day commercial fishermen inspired by Ahab's stowaway crew—"Fedallah and the Phantoms"— Chasing The New White Whale explores the current National opioid crisis through the unique lens of the commercial fishing industry.

Find out more about Chasing the New White Whale 
by Mike Gorman, La MaMa's Playwright in Residence

Following a performance in Maine, an audience member and commercial fisherman named Robby spoke with the playwright about his own struggles with addiction and how the performance impacted him. Robby shares the namesake of the hero of my play—Captain Robby Foerster, played by Akan Barnes Netherton:


Chasing the New White Whale
November 24 - December 09, 2018

Ellen Stewart Theatre | 66 East 4th Street (2nd Floor)
Thursday to Saturday at 7PM; Monday, Nov 26th at 7PM; Sunday at 3PM
Run Time: 2 Hours (with a 15 minute intermission)

Friday, November 9, 2018

6 Questions: Sachiyo Takahashi

Inspired by abstract visual artists, notably Wassily Kandinsky, Alexander Calder and Otto Piene, Everything Starts from a Dot is an abstract journey of a humble dot presented through Microscopic Live Cinema-Theatrecombining video projection and the presence of moving objects on stage. Sachiyo Takahashi took time out of performances to answer our 6 questions:

1) Do you have a favorite puppet in your performance?
Dot. Dot is possibly one of the most minimalist puppets. My interest in puppetry is how to animate an object and to express myself through the object. I like the challenge of animating this minimalist object (or concept) as a protagonist of a story. The interesting characteristics of dot is that it could appear in different sizes, different materials, different colors and it still could be recognized as the same existence. Also, it could be metaphorical, conceptual and poetic. I think that dot is a perfect protagonist for a story of metamorphosis.

By the way, “dot” is actually a member of Nekaa Lab. Under the name of Nekaa Lab, I have been creating works with a troop of ensemble casts such as figurines, plush toys and other objects since 2006. In that sense, I usually consider “dot” as my collaborator, not exactly a puppet. See dot’s profile here:

2) How do you define Microscopic Live Cinema-Theatre?
Microscopic: Microscopic Live Cinema-Theatre magnifies the discoveries in the small world. Microcosmos contains macrocosmos. Thus, magnification of the small world could reveal the secrets of the universe. I use video cameras and projector as a magnification tool to share my small discoveries with audiences.

Live Cinema-Theatre: All the visuals in Microscopic Live Cinema-Theatre are a live feed from a video camera controlled on stage, without the use of pre-recorded footage.  A performer (in this case, myself) manipulates all the visual elements live in front of audience. This is because I compose all the visual elements similar to the way I compose music, and they are design to be performed live, like a musician plays a musical instrument. Therefore, a performer in Microscopic Live Cinema-Theatre is visible on stage, like an instrumentalist in a music concert. The word Theatre also emphasizes that it is a platform of live storytelling. 

3) What inspires you about Wassily Kandinsky's art?
He is one of the first artists who explored full potential of abstract painting. After him, point, line, shape and colour in the paintings for the first time became independent from serving the function of representing things in real world. Abstraction could instead reflect the realm of the mind, emotions, spirituality. Everything Starts from a Dot also explores this territory.
The way he looked at the world indeed influenced the way I look at things; I started to see a dot here. I mean, here. Do you see it?

4) Is there spoken text in your production? Why or why not?
There is no spoken text in this production. Everything Starts from a Dot is an experiment in abstract storytelling. So I decide to only use abstract visual and auditory elements in this work without spoken languages.

I am a strong believer in the power of spoken or sung text, especially in the traditional storytelling forms such as Gidayū-bushi in Japanese Bunraku puppet theatre. Spoken text, in my view, is so powerful that if it is not carefully used, it could undermine the other performative elements. I practice Shinnai-bushi, a type of Japanese traditional storytelling myself, so I am thinking to create a work focusing on spoken/sung text in near future.

5) Why is music important in your production?
I am primarily a composer and musician. I compose visual and auditory elements simultaneously. Perhaps that is the most unique feature of my work. The visual and auditory elements are designed to intertwine each other to evoke certain emotions. In my work, the visual without sound doesn’t make any sense. What you feel watching my work largely relies on the effect of soundtrack.

6) What does working at La MaMa mean to you?
The other day, I had a chance to peek at the archive room of La MaMa. It was such a wonder. I am so honored to be a part of this creative, experimental history of NYC. Since my work doesn’t fit in any existing genres, I often feel myself isolated and marginal. At La MaMa, I feel quite comfortable being on the edge, meeting like-minded artists and audiences. This place reminds me again if you like to see something new, you just need to go all the way to the boarder, a frontier.


November 08 - November 10, 2018
Downstairs | 66 East 4th Street
Thursday to Friday at 8:30PM; Saturday at 7PM
$25 Tickets; $20 Student/Senior Tickets [+$1 Facility Fee]

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

6 Questions: Nancy Black

Director Nancy Black took time out of busy rehearsals of Blind to answer 6 Questions about this unique puppet performance coming to the La MaMa Puppet Festival: 

1) Do you have a favorite puppet in your performance?
No.....That’s like asking if you have a favorite child!  They’re all so unique – the puppets I mean.  Each came into being over a long slow creative process. We struggled with them, to find out who they were, what they expressed.  They weren’t always easy, though the Oracle gave us a lot of fun.  She was a big surprise.  Francis and Blanche were difficult at times. We loved and hated them.  Eventually they dictated who they were.  All three come from deep within ourselves.  They express so much of humanity – the dark and the light. 

2) What is the importance of sight in 'Blind'?
Sight in Blind is a state of mind, a way of being.  To see is to open oneself to what is around you, and engage with it without expectation.  Suffering an intolerable disease, his body distorted, visually and spiritually blind, Duda’s character is at war with himself. He kills off his innocence. He seeks answers blindly from anyone who will promise a cure. He “sees” only when he stops looking; when he accepts.  

3) How is the experience working with artists across cultures?
First of all, few experiences can be as enriching. You exchange stories, skills, learn about new cultures, share approaches. There’s a challenge in that also - you will encounter different processes, some different expectations, and of course those must be negotiated – but in my experience, once you’re on the floor – the differences float away.  You’re making a work.  sparking off each other’s ideas, arguing, searching, making offers, trying things out.  Ultimately, if the process is collaborative, you’re all in it together, making art.

4) What can the audience expect to discover watching 'Blind'?
A sense of wonder at the power of Duda’s puppets.  Humour as well as darkness in his character’s journey. Recognition.  A challenge to confront one’s own feelings of discomfort when encountering people with physical and/or mental disabilities. A challenge to engage, and accept what you discover.

5) What role does the music play in this performance?
The music helps build each puppet’s world.  The Oracle’s music references the Yoruba Brazilian sub-culture and shamanistic ritual.  Blanche is in nature.  Francis exists in an emotional turmoil – driven by anger and rage. Alfie at the end is in today. Wilco Alkema’s challenge was to find modes and transitions that allowed those worlds to emerge and transform.

6) What does working at La MaMa mean to you? 
La Mama has been such a force in theatre.  Global really. A driving passionate advocate for new work, emerging artists, and the importance of culture.  It’s an honour to play there. Here in Melbourne, our own La Mama, founded in the ‘60s by admirers of Ellen Stewart, has had a huge impact on Australia’s culture. I have made many works there – and so have most artists working in theatre. In presenting Blind at NY’s La Mama we are proudly joining the company of thousands whose careers have been nurtured there, and who in turn – with their courage and artistry - have so enriched the culture of NY and the wider world.  I hope we bring something unique and wonderful to weave into that fabulous tapestry. 


La MaMa presents 
Part of the La MaMa Puppet Festival 

Ellen Stewart Theatre | 66 East 4th Street (2nd Floor)

Thursday to Friday at 7PM; Saturday at 8:30PM; Sunday at 3PM
$25 Tickets; $20 Student/Senior Tickets [+$1 Facility Fee]

Thursday, November 1, 2018

6 Questions: Hua Hua Zhang

Inspired by a classic Chinese poem, Tian Wen is an experimental puppetry performance featuring living sculpture, stylized movement, and live music. The individual pieces - or dreams - explore the differences in feelings, concerns, and behaviors between East and West that Hua Hua Zhang has observed during her artistic journey in America.

Hua Hua Zhang took time out of busy rehearsals to answer 6 Questions about this unique puppet performance coming to the La MaMa Puppet Festival:

1) Do you have a favorite puppet in your performance? 
The “Two Rocks” puppets are my favorites in Tian Wen because they are unique—made up intuitively. I like how their simplicity expresses everything I wish to get across. 

2) How do you define living sculpture? 
The performer creates the appearance of a sculpture through posture and through the manipulation of the shapes and vivid figures on the stage. 

I like to create living sculpture. It not only has the quality of a puppet as a sculpture, it also gives the performer – puppeteer the opportunity to reach out to their imagination and open themselves up to endless creative possibilities. Once the performer makes it alive, it is puppetry! Living sculpture provides an additional layer of artistic expression. 

3) What makes cross cultural expression important? 
We need to open our minds, to keep curious and be willing to learn about different backgrounds of people and be willing to share cultural differences. 

4) Do you have a favorite country where you have performed? 
Germany. In Munich, I had a chance to stay with a German family to experience the life of the people and enjoyed it very much. 

5) Why do you include live music in your performance? 
I do so in order for the audience to feel that they are in a real theater. 

Live music has a direct impact on my heart and my soul. In other words, I feel the music instinctively when a live musician plays in the theater. I hope the audience feels this too. The cello in Tian Wen show gives the audience feeling in real world. Electronic sounds give the audience a feeling of being in dream world. Live cello (reality) with electronic sounds (dream) crossing over each other reflects the questions of Chinese philosopher Zhuang-zi, who famously asked whether he dreamed he was a butterfly, or if the butterfly was dreaming that he was a man. 

I want the music to reinforce this blurring of the line between reality and dream that occurs dramatically in each piece of the show. This is what Cory Neale, the composer for Tian Wen, has said about his music: “The music of Tian Wen is a blend of contemporary and traditional sounds and motifs. In this work, it is important for the sound to provide space and emotion to accompany the audience and help take the viewer into the dream world that Tian Wen creates. 

The addition of a live instrument brings the music and sound into the story as a character and has an important role to play in shaping the viewer's understanding of this dream world. It introduces a human element into the sound, and gives a character that the audience can readily relate to as they fade in and out of the dream world created by electronic and ambient soundscapes.” 

6) What does working at La MaMa mean to you? 
More than a decade ago, after seeing a show at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theater, I had dream that one day I would be able to perform here. 

Ellen Stewart’s idea of embracing diverse artists from all over the world and giving them the opportunity to share their art and culture encouraged every artist—especially those (like me) who came here from other countries. She opened her heart for us (artists). We miss her very much! 

I am honored to be invited to perform Tian Wen for the Ellen Stewart Theater. It means a lot for me. Tian Wen is an experimental puppetry performance—a risk-taking endeavor created with my heart and intuition. Some people who have seen my recent works said that I go too far with puppetry. This kind of comment makes me confused. Puppetry does not have to be only one certain thing or style. I so value the opportunity to share this experimental show with my audience, friends, puppet lovers, and people from the world who come from different cultural and artistic backgrounds. I look forward to hearing from you all about Tian Wen. Many thanks to La MaMa for letting my dream become real!


La MaMa presents 

Part of the La MaMa Puppet Festival 

Ellen Stewart Theatre | 66 East 4th Street (2nd Floor)

Saturday at 8:30PM; Sunday at 3PM; Monday at 7PM
$25 Tickets; $20 Student/Senior Tickets [+$1 Facility Fee]
Run Time: 70 Minutes

Monday, October 29, 2018

6 Questions: Alice-Therese Gottschalk

Wunderkammer | Cabinet of Curiosities opens La MaMa's 2018 Puppet Festival this week with an alluring cabinet of marionettes and allow them to transport you to a place of pure wonder. All the way from Germany, puppeteers Alice Therese Gottschalk, Raphael Mürle, and Frank Soehnle, all disciples of the internationally-renowned master puppeteer Albrecht Roser, convene as a trio to challenge and intensify their puppeteering skills.

Alice Therese Gottschalk took time out of her busy rehearsal schedule to answer 6 Questions for La MaMa about this upcoming production:

1) Do you have a favorite puppet in your performance? 
I think all charters and styles of the puppet are so different and each character has its special wonders and surprised - so I can‘t say there is „the one.“ 

2) What is the history behind cabinets of curiosity? 
The origin of the show was our wish to develop the art form of string puppetry. All three of us are normally solo performers, we often work together with musician, actors, dancer, but seldom with other string puppeteers.

So it was a pleasure to develop puppets and discover movements together and with the permanent possibility to get a different outside view because we could see our puppets performed by other string puppeteers. I learned a lot from the other two during this process! The idea to make a show out of this research came later - first there was our curiosity. 

3) What's one thing you learned working with puppeteer Albrecht Roser? 
Just one? Mhm, to observe movement and to listen to the material, objects, puppets what stories they want to tell through their movement. 

4) Is there a universal connection between all things? 
In the show I would think the music of Bradley Kemp (NY) and the costumes of Evelyn Meersschaut (Belgium) are connecting elements and give the very different styles of our marionettes a strong frame. 

5) What draws you to work with marionettes? 
The art form of puppetry connects for me the fine and the performing arts. Through the way of construction of my own puppets I influence the performance. I can play with forms and movement and this is an deep and endless pool of possibilities and stories. String puppets especially are, for me, the most independent and surprising puppet form. 

6) What does working at La MaMa mean to you? 
To show our work at La MaMa gives us the possibility to present Wunderkammer in the US the first time, which hopefully will be an exciting experience. And looking through La MaMa's diverse and courageous program, I think Wunderkammer found the right place to be.

La MaMa presents

Wunderkammer | Cabinet of Curiosities
Part of the La MaMa Puppet Festival

Puppeteers: Alice-Therese Gottschalk, Raphael Mürle and Frank Soehnle
Music by Michael Wollny and Tamar Halperin

November 1st - November 3rd, 2018

$25 Adult Tickets; $20 Students/Seniors; $10 Tickets

Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 E 4th Street; Basement level
New York, NY 10003

For tickets and more information: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

La MaMa Puppet Festival starts next week!

2018 La MaMa Puppet Series from La MaMa on Vimeo.

November 1 - 25, 2018
Curated by Denise Greber
More info HERE

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"The downtown mainstay La MaMa E.T.C. (Experimental Theater Club), winner of the 2018 Regional Theater Tony Award, will present a monthlong festival of puppet performances by an international roster of artists. This isn’t a children’s theater event, though: The creators, mainly women, will be presenting shows that grapple with immigration, Black Lives Matter, disability and other weighty topics."
-Steven McElroy. Full article HERE
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"Innovation goes hand in glove with theater at this biannual festival of new puppetry for grown-ups." 
Full read HERE
La MaMa Puppet Series 2018
Photo courtesy of Patrick Argirakis, BLIND


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"This year's installment of its biannual festival will include New York and world premieres of works by Chinese, French, Japanese, and African-American artists."
Full article HERE


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La MaMa's Annual Puppet Festival Returns to New York

"For four weeks (November 1 - 25, 2018), La MaMa's Puppet Series presents work from artists around the world including Germany, Brazil, Netherlands, Japan, Colombia, China, Belgium, and the USA."

Full article HERE

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Next on the horizon is the 2018 edition of the biannual La MaMa Puppet Festival — touted as their biggest yet — running Nov. 1-25. The director and curator of the festival since the beginning has been Denise Greber, a Downtown actress who has been with La MaMa since 1999. “I started working with Ellen [Stewart] on a puppet series in 2004,”Greber noted. “Ellen always loved puppetry. It’s always been at least 20 percent of the programming at La MaMa. It was a small series at first. But it’s continued to grow.” Full Article HERE



See multiple shows in the 2018 La MaMa Puppet Festival for one low price! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Congratulations to Jane Comfort and Company

Congratulations to Jane Comfort and Company! 

Jane Comfort and Company received the 2018 Outstanding Revival Award for the company's 40th Anniversary Retrospective at La MaMa.

Everyone at La MaMa is also pleased and grateful for this sweet, lovely and overdue recognition for an incredible retrospective of a very talented company.

ABOUT THE BESSIESThe Bessies were established by David R. White in 1984 at Dance Theater Workshop to recognize outstanding work in choreography, performance, music composition and visual design. Nominees are chosen by a Selection Committee comprised of artists, presenters, producers, and writers, which this year is comprised of Ronald Alexander, Elise Bernhardt, Diana Byer, Tymberly Canale, Alexis Convento, Leah Cox, Parijat Desai, Maura Donohue, Boo Froebel, Angela Fatou Gittens, Diane Grumet, Brinda Guha, Joseph Hall, Irene Hultman, Celia Ipiotis, Koosil-ja, Matthew Lopez, Matthew Lyons, Lydia Mokdessi, Harold Norris, Craig Peterson, Doug Post, Rajika Puri, Susan Reiter, Ali Rosa Salas, Walter Rutledge, George Emi?lio Sanchez, Andrea Snyder, Carrie Stern, Risa Steinberg, Sally Sommer, Kay Takeda, Catherine Tharin, Muna Tseng, Eleanor K. Wallace, Martin Wechsler, Adrienne Westwood, and William Whitener.

Responsible for setting policy and providing ongoing oversight, the 2018 Bessie Awards Steering Committee is comprised of Cora Cahan, Beverly D'Anne, Lane Harwell, Jeanne Linnes, Stanford Makishi, Nicky Paraiso, Carla Peterson, Paz Tanjuaquio, Laurie Uprichard, and Sylvia Waters.