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)
Frank Hentschker - Executive Director (MESTC)
Monica Cristini – Researcher (UNIVR)