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Podcasts with America's seminal directors and choreographers

Enjoy rare insights into how theatre is made with this podcast interview series produced by Stage Directors and Choreographers Workshop Foundation (SDCF) and co-presented by TDF. Browse three decades of priceless one-on-one conversations and panel discussions with distinguished theatre and dance luminaries.

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Ellen Stewart

Date: Jun 13, 1994


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Off-Off Broadway pioneer Ellen Stewart gave a candid interview to SDCF Executive Director David Diamond for a packed audience of theatre artists at ArtsConnection on June 13, 1994. The central focus of the interview is her founding and continued artistic leadership of La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. She begins at the beginning, explaining the origins of the institution and the impetus behind its creation. Ms. Stewart reminisces on her early funding efforts for the company - by selling her fashion designs on Fifth Avenue as the first African American designer to work for Saks. She covers the struggle to produce the work of marginalized artists in the early 60's, her confrontations with city officials and landlords and the emergence of her organization as a "Theatre Club". Ellen then guides the audience through the inspiring history of LaMaMa's international experience, both working abroad and supporting international artists' work in the U.S. She confides that LaMaMa's first international expeditions were to services the careers of American playwrights; to expose their work to a more willing European audience who might positively review the productions. LaMaMa continues to work internationally as a result of the "give and take" mentality developed by the institution's commitment to producing work that is "more universal in their appeal". This fascinating interview concludes with Ms. Stewart looking ahead, expounding on what she sees for the future of LaMaMa and its cadre artists and resident companies.