La MaMa Blogs: April 2020

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Message From Mia

April 28, 2020          

Dear Friends,

In these past three weeks, there is not one day that goes by that I don’t think about La MaMa’s treasured resident set designer, Jun Maeda, who died on April 6 due to complications related to the Covid-19 virus. In some moments I am filled with deep sadness, overwhelmed with the loss and with all the loss that is happening around us.  Mostly though I hold on and remember that we live on in the people that we touch.  His exquisite art, unwavering creative force and magic live in the spaces where he worked at La MaMa, in the sculptures and art pieces he made, and of course in our hearts.

With Maeda’s passing, I cannot help but think of generations of La MaMa that came before us.  I go back to the beginnings when Ellen Stewart started La MaMa. She didn’t set out to establish a theatre, but her friends were theatre artists and they needed space to create.  Now with our theatres closed, La MaMa is focused on the virtual space for artists as we continue to present a multiplicity of perspectives and to experiment with different artistic mediums and theatrical forms.

Ellen used theatre as a vehicle to bring global communities together; now we are leveraging the internet and other emerging technologies as creative tools for making art and connecting people around the world. Since 2009, La MaMa in partnership with Seoul Institute of the Arts founded CultureHub. Together we have been exploring emerging technologies, making online art and educational programs, and livestreaming countless productions.

Artists need to be in this space, to inform how these online platforms can be used for art. In the artist’s hands, work generated online will expand our understanding and potential of this new venue where we can gather as humans, as a community. During this crisis, the numbers of viewers in our livestreams have drastically increased. Each stream shows viewers from various states, as well as in countries across the globe.

The impact and access of the artists’ work to go beyond the four walls of our theatres is how we imagine La MaMa’s future. La MaMa will always present live performance in our theatres and nothing will replace the need for us to experience something in a physical space together.  When our work resumes in the theatres, these online explorations will continue and inform how artists can make/share work and how audiences can be engaged. For now we are postponing our productions for the rest of the season but we forge ahead to experiment and collaborate with our artists online through the summer.

Life is changing around us and as we process where we are and where we are headed, art creates an environment of sensitivity which opens up the possibility for change. La MaMa has always been shaped by its community of artists and audiences. It is all of you who give me energy and hope. In exploring what new experiences we can create I am inspired by Maeda who never stopped working until his last days. I feel his spirit in this endeavor to never stop experimenting and examining our humanity through artistic creation.



Thursday, April 2, 2020

New La MaMa Podcast: Amy Rox Surratt chats with Split Britches

Photo by Christa Holka

In the latest edition of the La MaMa Podcast, Amy Rox Surratt chats with Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw of Split Britches.