La MaMa Experimental Theatre: a lasting bridge between cultures (MariBet)
This project is focused on the activity of La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club of New York, founded in 1961 by fashion designer Ellen Stewart (1919-2011) in an old café on Manhattan Lower East Side, to give voice to artists marginalized by both the institutional theatres of Broadway and the Off-Broadway scene. In America, during the 60’s, Stewart conceived a theatre that could be a real place of collaboration, sharing and cohesion of different cultures; a theatre in which artists coming from all over the world could work together taking advantage of their various languages and cultures. She conceived theatre as a meeting and integration point, overcoming cultural and geo-political barriers, engaging artists and companies in a common artistical research. This was a very original approach to theatre promotion and production in a difficult historical period in which America was dealing with the Vietnam War, with racial, gender and drug issues. Stewart’s ideas spread out by exporting La MaMa productions all around the world, opening branches in different countries (e.g. Italy, England and Japan) and establishing relationships with the local theatres and citizens.
Some key concepts used by La MaMa in those years, like ‘integration’ and ‘identity’, are still crucial today in its artistical research and activities, being it a place where artists of different generations and from all around the world can share their work and ideas. Nowadays it is one of the most important Off-Off-Broadway theatre, producing performances always addressed to current social issues urgent both in US and in Europe like immigration and welcoming migrants and refugees.
The first objective of the project is to fill the gap in the field of theatre studies with an in-depth and exhaustive study of the history of La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club (1961-2020) and of a selection of its historical productions directed by Andrei Serban, the first director of La MaMa coming from Europe.
The second objective is to analyse the engagement of La MaMa in approaching relevant socio-political issues and promoting intercultural dialogues both in the past and in the present.
HORIZON2020-MSCA-IF-2018 - Grant Agreement no 840989
Beneficiary’s/linked third party’s:
Department of Cultures and Civilizations – UNIVR /
Martin E. Segal Theatre Center – GC – CUNY
Simona Brunetti - Main supervisor (UNIVR)
Marvin Carlson - Supervisor (MESTC) / Peter Eckersall - Supervisor (MESTC)
Frank Hentschker - Executive Director (MESTC)
Monica Cristini - Researcher (UNIVR)
4-5, 11-12 MAY 2022 - International Conference
Scientific Committee: Simona Brunetti, Monica Cristini, Peter Ecksall
The rise of new theatre and the theatrical avant-garde: meetings and influences across boundaries (1948-1981)
A second wave of the theatrical avant-garde, often called New Theatre, spread in Europe and in the North America during the second part of the twentieth century. In the period 1948-81, this wave spanned a myriad of alternative ways to do theatre, to conceptualize dramaturgy and to reconsider the theatrical scene. Different approaches and new ways of interacting with the audience were born, and non-traditional theatre spaces were often used. While these developments were seen in many places around the globe, this conference is primarily dedicated to the transnational avant-garde and cross border/cross continent exchanges. A major focus will be to document and discuss the meetings and influences between two parallel movements taking place in North America and Western Europe.
Artistic and cultural exchanges and collaborations between artists will be investigated, as well as the evolving transnational culture of the avant-garde in a time marked by youth movements, new left politics, conflicts, and social change. We understand this as a time when theatre was intensely involved in political and social movements, was proposing new forms of engagement with audiences, and was opening bridges between diverse cultures.
|Research areas involved in the project|
Discipline dello Spettacolo
Visual and performing arts, design, arts-based research
Arti e Geografie
|The Trojan Women Project. Building a bridge between cultures through a universal language||Cristini, Monica||2021|