La MaMa is where artists are welcomed to take creative risks. It is where artists of different generations and identities from around the globe share work and ideas.
Founded in 1961 by Ellen Stewart in a tiny basement on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. La MaMa has a worldwide reputation for supporting fearless and provocative theater while helping artists gain a foothold in New York. It is one of the original theaters that gave birth to the Off-Off Broadway theater movement, and it has been the training ground and launching pad for a remarkable roster of artists, many of whom have made lasting contributions to the arts. Bette Midler, Blue Man Group, Jackie Curtis, David and Amy Sedaris, Robert Wilson, André DeShields, Harvey Fierstein, Cecil Taylor, Julie Taymor, Philip Glass, Olympia Dukakis, Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi, are a few of the many artists who did work here early in their careers.
David Sedaris says, “La Mama is a place that gives people a chance, then goes an extra step and nurtures them. My sister and I learned so much here, like, for instance, that putting an air conditioner on a stool doesn’t really cool the room off. Were it not for La Mama, Amy and I never would have written a single play, much less five.”
As a global organization, La MaMa has also introduced many international artists to America including Peter Brook, Tadeusz Kantor, Andrei Serban, Kazuo Ohno and, more recently, the acclaimed Belarus Free Theatre. With creative partners and dedicated audiences from around the world, La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 productions and supported more than 150,000 artists of all nations, cultures, races and identities.
In its 56 year history, La MaMa has been honored with the 2018 Regional Theater TONY AWARD, more than 30 OBIE Awards, dozens of Drama Desk and Bessie Awards, and Villager Awards. It is “A home to, and champion of brash and venturesome artists.” – New York Times
What Ellen Stewart began in a small basement on East 9th Street has grown into an astounding 88,000 square feet of dedicated art space -- four performance venues, rehearsal studios, an art gallery, a dormitory for visiting artists, offices, and the La MaMa Archives, documenting the history of Off-Off Broadway. Each season La MaMa presents more than 70 productions and receives approximately 34,000 visits from people of all ages and backgrounds, who attend performances, exhibitions, educational activities, and the La MaMa Archives.
La MaMa's vision of nurturing new artists and new work remains as strong today as it was when Ellen Stewart first opened the doors in 1961. Now under the artistic direction of Mia Yoo, cultural pluralism and ethnic diversity are inherent in the work created on our stages. Here, artists find a supportive environment for artistic exploration, and audiences are part of the development of an artist’s work over time.