fbpx La MaMa's Coffeehouse Chronicles #155: Ellen Stewart | HowlRound Theatre Commons

Livestreamed on this page Saturday 2 November 2019 at 12 p.m. PDT (Vancouver, UTC -7) / 3 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 7 p.m. GMT (London, UTC +0) / 20:00 CET (Budapest, UTC +1) / 21:00 EET (Bucharest, UTC +2). 

New York City
Saturday 2 November 2019

La MaMa's Coffeehouse Chronicles #155: Ellen Stewart

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, New York City

Saturday 2 November 2019

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City presented Coffeehouse Chronicles #155: Ellen Stewart livestreaming on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Saturday 2 November 2019 at 12 p.m. PDT (Vancouver, UTC -7) / 3 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 7 p.m. GMT (London, UTC +0) / 20:00 CET (Budapest, UTC +1) / 21:00 EET (Bucharest, UTC +2). 

Coffeehouse Chronicles #155 honors the career and achievements of Ellen Stewart with panelists, live performances and archival materials. Curated by Michal Gamily. 

Livestream production by CultureHub.

About Ellen Stewart

Ellen Stewart was a dress designer when she started La MaMa in a basement apartment in 1961, a woman entirely without theatre experience or even much interest in the theatre. But within a few years, and with an indomitable personality, she had become a theatre pioneer.

Not only did she introduce unusual new work to the stage, she also helped colonize a new territory for the theatre, planting a flag in the name of low-budget experimental productions in the East Village of Manhattan and creating the capital of what became known as Off Off Broadway.

She was a vivid figure, often described as beautiful—an African-American woman whose long hair, frequently worn in cornrows, turned silver in her later years. Her wardrobe was flamboyant, replete with bangles, bracelets and scarves. Her voice was deep, carrying an accent reminiscent of her Louisiana roots.

Few producers could match her energy, perseverance and fortitude. In the decades after World War II her influence on American theatre was comparable to that of Joseph Papp, founder of the New York Shakespeare Festival, though the two approached the stage from different wings. Papp straddled the commercial and noncommercial worlds, while Ms. Stewart’s terrain was international and decidedly noncommercial.

Her theatre became a remarkable springboard for an impressive roster of promising playwrights, directors and actors who went on to accomplished careers both in mainstream entertainment and in push-the-envelope theatre.

Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Olympia Dukakis, Richard Dreyfuss, Bette Midler, Diane Lane and Nick Nolte were among the actors who performed at La MaMa in its first two decades. Playwrights like Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Harvey Fierstein, Maria Irene Fornes and Adrienne Kennedy developed early work there. So did composers like Elizabeth Swados, Philip Glass and Stephen Schwartz.

About Coffeehouse Chronicles

Coffeehouse Chronicles is an educational performance series exploring the history and development of Off-Off Broadway from its inception within the Village “Coffeehouse Theatres” of the 1960s through today. Part artist portrait, part creative event, part history lesson, part community forum, it is our mission to provide a home, as did our founder Ellen Stewart, for personal and intimate engagement with art. Since 2005, La MaMa has presented more than 150 Coffeehouse Chronicles, building on our mission to provide a home for personal engagement with art. Coffeehouse Chronicles are held on one Saturday each month (September through June).

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the city council.

About HowlRound TV

HowlRound TV is a global, commons-based peer produced, open access livestreaming and video archive project stewarded by the nonprofit HowlRound. HowlRound TV is a free and shared resource for live conversations and performances relevant to the world's performing arts and cultural fields. Its mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and to develop our knowledge commons collectively. Participate in a community of peer organizations revolutionizing the flow of information, knowledge, and access in our field by becoming a producer and co-producing with us. Learn more by going to our participate page. For any other queries, email tv@howlround.com, or call Vijay Mathew at +1 917.686.3185 Signal/WhatsApp. View the video archive of past events.

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