La MaMa Umbria: International Symposium for Directors

July 15 - August 14, 2020

For the 21st year of the Directors' Symposium, La MaMa Umbria is offering unique opportunities to learn from the world's finest directors, choreographers and theatre-makers. Please join us. Keep an eye on this page for continuing updates on visiting artists, workshops and other events. Artists are subject to change.

Now Accepting Applications! Click Here To Apply!

Session One: July 15 - July 29, 2020:

Martha Clarke (USA)

Richard Jones (England)

Derek Goldman (USA)

Michael Mayer (USA)

Session Two: July 31 - August 14, 2020:

Issa Nyaphaga (Cameroon) & Jessica Litwak (USA)

Emily Mann (USA)

Iman Aoun (Palestine)

Karine Ponties (Belgium)

About Session One Workshops

July 15 - July 29, 2020

Expanding the Notion of Where Artistic Inspiration Comes From: Martha Clarke

Bring your own projects to develop as you learn Clarke’s multi-disciplinary approach to theatre-making. Taking inspiration from visual art, text, music, film and other forms, learn to use all tools at your disposal as you prepare and develop a new work.
Martha Clarke is an American theater director and choreographer noted for her multi-disciplinary approach to theater, dance, and opera. A graduate of Juilliard, she danced with the Anna Sokolow Company before becoming a founding member of Pilobolus Dance Theatre. She has choreographed for Nederlans Dans Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Rambert Dance Company, and The Martha Graham Company, among others. As a director, Ms. Clarke’s original productions include Garden of Earthly Delights, Vienna: Lusthaus, Miracolo d’Amore, Endangered Species, An Uncertain Hour, The Hunger Artist, Belle Epoque, Vers La Flame, Kaos and Chéri. She directed Alice’s Adventures Underground, a collaboration with Christopher Hampton for the Royal National Theater UK, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream for A.R.T. Opera productions include Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Cosi Fan Tutti for Glimmerglass, and Tan Dun’s Marco Polo and Gluck’s Orfeo and Eurydice for New York City Opera, among many others. She created L’Altra Meta del Cielo for La Scala Ballet (2012). She directed and choreographed Chéri (2013) for the Signature Theatre and The Threepenny Opera (2014) at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York City. Her most recent production, Angel Reapers, a collaboration with Alfred Uhry played at the Signature Theatre as her second production in her five year residency (2016). Awards: Ms. Clarke is the recipient of a MacArthur fellowship, a Drama Desk Award, two Obie Awards, two Joe A. Callaway awards, the Dance Magazine Award, the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement, and most recently, two Lucille Lortel awards and the Flora Roberts award from the Dramatists Guild 2019.

Essential Skills of Directing Not Taught in School: Richard Jones

Richard Jones will take participants through key aspects of directing including developing concept, putting together and managing a team, designer/director collaboration, contracts, casting, organizing rehearsals, solving problems in rehearsal, managing relationships with creative team and producing team, using feedback in constructive ways, etc. Participants will be engaged in an active process to test skills and get feedback. The 6-time Olivier Award Winner will also share his work directing theatre and opera and how to approach each form differently.
Richard Jones CBE is a British theatre and opera director. He was born in London, and studied at the University of Hull and University of London. His work has become controversial and has provoked considerable reactions from the UK press. However, he is also seen as a major figure in the worlds of theatre and opera. His recent production Judgement Day was presented at The Armory in New York in 2019-2020. Prior to that, he had a big success with The Hairy Ape, starring Bobby Cannavale in the same theatre. “There is no doubt that this will be a visually unique and powerful dramatic theatrical experience for New York audiences, with the grand scale of the design, coupled with Richard’s extraordinary directorial talent,” said Pierre Audi, Marina Kellen French Artistic Director at Park Avenue Armory. “As soon as we closed The Hairy Ape, I knew we would need to draw Richard Jones back to the Armory to help activate the expansive Drill Hall with another compelling project. As audiences witnessed with The Hairy Ape, Richard excels in his attention to the minutiae and the moments in-between. His choreography and the way he moves and places people across the stage help to create an invigorating visual experience that is unrivaled by many directors working on large stages today.

"He is the best British director around at the moment," says director David Pountney, part of the "powerhouse" triumvirate that presided over English National Opera in the 1980s. "He is extremely imaginative, he has a very individual, quirky response to the material, and a very sharp eye for humor."

According to Nicholas Hytner, artistic director-designate of the National Theatre: "He is one of the most genuinely original and completely individual directors around. Theatre work includes five productions for the Young Vic in London and which range from The Government Inspector to Annie Get Your Gun. Black Snow was directed for the American Repertory Theatre, plus All's Well That Ends Well for the Public Theater in New York. In London, Holy Mothers was presented at the Ambassadors and the Royal Court Theatre, while La Bête was seen in London's West End and on Broadway, where it received a Tony nomination. On Broadway, Jones' productions of Titanic (the musical) and Wrong Mountain were presented. [3] For the Royal Shakespeare Company, Jones directed A Midsummer Night's Dream. Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Tales from the Vienna Woods by Odon von Horvath—in a new version by David Harrower—were presented by the National Theatre in London. Jones has won many awards including 6 Olivier Awards and the Evening Standard Award for Best Director.

Theater as Call and Response: Performing One Another: Derek Goldman

This workshop will explore highly inclusive, communal, participatory approaches that Goldman and the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics have developed and practiced in settings around the world (Bangladesh, China, Russia, South Africa, Sudan etc), as well as a means of bringing together ideologically polarized communities together in the United States. Through pair exercises rooted in respectful dialogue and deep listening, the workshop offers techniques for "stepping into the shoes" of one another with openness and empathy, and for devising intimate, potent and fresh performances out of this found material.
Derek Goldman is Chair of the Department of Performing Arts and Director of the Theater & Performance Studies Program at Georgetown University in Washington DC, as well as co-Founding Director of the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics (with Ambassador Cynthia Schneider) with the mission “to harness the power of performance to humanize global politics.” He is an award-winning stage director, playwright/adapter, scholar, producer, festival curator, and developer of new work, whose work has been seen around the country, Off-Broadway, and internationally. His work has been seen at theaters such as Steppenwolf, Lincoln Center, Arena Stage, The Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theater, McCarter, Segal Center (Montreal), Baltimore CenterStage, Folger, Round House, Everyman, Theater J, Mosaic, Synetic, Olney, and many others. He is the author of more than 30 professionally produced plays and adaptations, including work published by Samuel French, and he has directed over 100 productions. His engagement with global performance in recent years has taken his work to Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, throughout the UK, among other places. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Theatre Communications Group (TCG); Vice-President of UNESCO’s International Theatre Institute, and a co-Founder of the Global Network for Higher Education in the Performing Arts. He received the President’s Award for Distinguished Scholar-Teachers at Georgetown. He received his Ph.D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University.

Getting Back to Story: Michael Mayer

We will explore story, character and plot in theater, opera, television and film. Explore the intricacies of adjustments directors make as they move from one medium to another.
Award-winning director Michael Mayer has worked in a broad spectrum of media from theatre and opera to television and film.

Theatre credits include: the new Avett Brothers musical Swept Away at Berkeley Rep, the hit revival of Little Shop of Horrors starring Jeremy Jordan now playing at the Westside Theatre; Adam Driver and Keri Russell in Burn This, Head Over Heels (featuring the songs of The Go-Go’s), Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Tony Award, best musical revival, also National Tour), Spring Awakening (Tony Award/Best Musical and Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Director; also London, National Tour, Vienna, Tokyo, and Seoul productions); Green Day’s American Idiot (also co-author, Drama Desk Award for Best Director; also US, UK and Asia tours); Thoroughly Modern Millie (Tony Award/Best Musical also London and National Tour), Side Man (Tony Award/Best Play also London and Kennedy Center Productions), A View from the Bridge (Tony Award/Best Revival), Michael Moore’s The Terms of My Surrender, Everyday Rapture, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Triumph of Love; off-Broadway credits include Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 21 Chump Street (BAM), Chess (Kennedy Center), Love, Love, Love (Roundabout), Brooklynite (Also co-author, Vineyard), Whorl Inside A Loop (with Dick Scanlan, Second Stage), 10 Million Miles (Atlantic): Angels in America. London: a record-breaking West End run of Funny Girl and UK tour. Tokyo: As You Like It (Toho Theatre). Film: A Home at the End of the World (Excellence in filmmaking, National Board of Review, GLAAD nomination), Flicka, The Seagull. He was featured in the documentary Broadway Idiot. Television credits Include: SMASH (Pilot, producing director: Season One), two seasons of Alpha House (Amazon), producer for the HBO film WIG. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut with a celebrated new production of Rigoletto, followed by a co-production (with the English National Opera) of Nico Muhly’s Marnie, and a new production of La Traviata, which broke box office records. Additional Awards and fellowships: the inaugural Daryl Roth Creative Spirit, Drama League Jefferson, Ovation, Alan Schneider, and Carbonell awards; Fox Foundation Fellowship, Two Drama League Fellowships, TCG/NEA Directing Fellowship. He serves on the Boards of New York Stage and Film and the Arthur Miller Foundation. @michaelmayerdir

About Session Two Workshops

July 31 - August 14, 2020

Creative Resilience: Issa Nyaphaga/Jessica Litwak

During the summer residency 2020 in Umbria, Mr. Issa Nyaphaga, a multimedia artist, performer, and human rights activist along with playwright, director, performer activist Jessica Litwak will engage theater directors in a Creative Resilience Workshop. Interactive methods and philosophies will be revealed to fellow residents to apply to their creative process. Creators, scholars, directors, artists, writers, musicians, curators and cultural fellows will be offered creative workshops which will inspire them to make sense of our evolution as humankind... should our current civilization have any common sense left. Someone once said: “we need filters not walls, if we build walls around us, we will not be touched by life”; and that will be an insult to the Cosmos. Evolution needs Creativity and Life needs Resilience to follow its path. Activities will focus on: True self-perception, Recreation of the body language, Multi-cultural diversities, Understanding the dynamic of energy and space and Bridging worlds/communities (Urban Way Performance).

Issa Nyaphaga was born in Douala, Cameroon (central Africa) in 1967 and grew up in the small village of the Tikar tribe, called Nditam, in the very heart of Cameroon’’s equatorial forest. In 2017, Issa Nyaphaga was classified as one of the 100 most influential artists and thinkers on the African continent by the South African magazine Tropics Magazine. In his struggle for freedom of expression as an editorial cartoonist in the 1990s, Issa was repeatedly censored by the Cameroonian government, and imprisoned for subversion. He was finally forced into exile and was unable to return home for 16 years. The Urban Way is an artist’s manifesto, and an act of protest against a brutal regime that has banned artists, journalists, and activists. Issa divides his time between Cameroon, France, China and the United States where he shares his work with young artists. Issa also has been working on the development of a philosophical concept called “Urban Way,” in which he paints his body and stages live performances that include music. Issa travels worldwide performing the Urban Way at artists residency programs, museum exhibitions, biennials, and universities. During the last six years, Issa has exhibited and performed in many cities around the world. His artwork helps him cope with his current status “as an exile and a global citizen … he moves between many worlds and wanders the globe to address critical issues and promotes freedom of expression. He directed Art Therapy workshops for more than 500 at risk youth (child soldiers, disabled, and refugee children) at a first child rescue Human Rights organization, acting under the guidance of UNHCR and the Minister of Social Affairs. Issa Nyaphaga has created Radio Taboo in the middle of the Cameroonian rainforest, a community radio station powered by solar energy and promoting social change.
Jessica Litwak Ph.D is a seasoned theatre arts professional focused specifically on theatre for social change and community engagement. She is a recognized leader in the Field with over 30 years experience. She is playwright, educator, actor, Registered Drama Therapist, and a trained practitioner of Playback, Psychodrama, and Theatre of the Oppressed. She is the Artistic Director of The H.E.A.T. Collective ( and The New Generation Theatre Ensemble ( Litwak has taught theatre at San Francisco State University, the Theatre Academy at Los Angeles City College, Stella Adler Academy, Marymount Manhattan College, Columbia, NYU, Lesley University, Whitman College, and Naropa University and in Iraq, Lebanon, India, Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Scotland, England and Italy. She has conducted seminars for The Global Mobility Symposium, The World Economic Forum, Performing The World, the North American Drama Therapy Association Conference, and The International Peace and Reach Association Conference. Litwak is a core member of Theatre Without Borders. She is a Fulbright Specialist Scholar.

The LEAR Project: Emily Mann

This workshop will delve deeply into KING LEAR, stripping it to its essence, bringing it to life for the 21st century. Directors will work on text analysis, story-telling, concept, and staging.

Emily Mann is a multi-award winning playwright and director in her 30th and final season as Artistic Director and Resident Playwright at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey. During her tenure, Emily wrote 15 new plays and adaptations, directed over 50 productions, produced nearly 180 plays and musicals, supported the work of emerging and legendary playwrights, received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater, commissioned the Tony Award winning play Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike by Christopher Durang, and opened the beautiful Roger S. Berlind Theatre.
McCarter directing credits include: acclaimed productions by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen, and Williams and the world premieres of Christopher Durang’s Turning Off the Morning News and Miss Witherspoon; Ken Ludwig’s Murder on the Orient Express; Rachel Bonds’ Five Mile Lake; Danai Gurira’s The Convert; Sarah Treem’s The How and the Why; and Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I. Broadway: A Streetcar Named Desire, Anna in the Tropics, Execution of Justice, and Having Our Say. Her newest play Gloria: A Life about the legacy of Gloria Steinem opened McCarter’s season this year after a successful run in New York at The Daryl Roth Theater. Awards: Peabody, Hull Warriner, NAACP, 7 Obies, Guggenheim; Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations; a Princeton University Honorary Doctorate of Arts, a Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwrights' Award, the Margo Jones Award given to a "citizen-of-the-theater who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theater everywhere”. This past June, she was awarded the TCG Visionary Leadership Award. In November, Ms. Mann was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.

How 'Theatre of the Oppressed' Can Be a Tool Beyond Its Form: Iman Aoun

A practical introduction of TO and Augusto Boal. Then we move into image theatre, forum theatre and the aesthetics of the oppressed and combine them with other forms of acting to reach a hybrid that could help the group free their possibilities when they are connected to a social issue.

Iman Aoun is an actor, director and dramaturg. She has an extensive record on stage, on screen, and behind the scenes. She was a member of the world-renowned El-Hakawati theatre, from Jerusalem, in the 1980s.

In 1991 Iman co-founded ASHTAR for Theatre Productions and Training in Jerusalem, and has been instrumental in directing and devising several productions for the company. An internationally recognized theatre trainer who specializes in the Theatre of the Oppressed techniques, Iman is also initiator of the project 100 artists for Palestine in 2003. In 2010, Iman developed The Gaza Mono-Logues, a documentary theatre performance based on the personal stories of a group of children from Gaza - The Monologues were distributed to various partners around the globe in October 2010, and were performed by 1500 youth in more than 50 cities in 36 countries.

Ms Aoun produced and performed in ASHTAR’s Theatre - Richard II that toured to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre as part of the Globe to Globe Festival 2012. She was also the initiator of the international call "The Syrian Monologues" based on the stories of Syrian Refugees 2015-2016. She has been coordinating the “One Billion Rising” in Palestine between 2014 – 2016, a global call to end violence against women and girls initiated by V-Day. She continues to lead ASHTAR Theatre and work regularly in difficult social and political contexts. She is a board member of The Palestinian Performing Arts Network and other Palestinian Art Organizations.

Theatricality of Movement: Poetry as a Political Act: Karine Ponties

Our research will articulate itself around translation. Translating, re-writing, not only ourselves in the world, but the world in us, as beings living among other living beings. What tools can be found within and outside the body to pursue, through the stage, a translation that acts like a mediation between the plurality of cultures and human unity? Ultimately, playing, to bring to into the world that stranger hidden, buried deep in ourselves.

Born in France and raised in Spain, Karine Ponties is infused with a certain multiculturality. Her immersion into dance began there with studies at the Juan Tena and Ramon Soler dance schools, before moving to Brussels and joining Mudra, the school created by Maurice Bejart. As a performer, she has worked with several companies including Frédéric Flamand, Michèle Noiret, Nicole Mossoux/Patrick Bonté and Pierre Droulers, before founding her own company Dame de Pic in 1996.Artistic director of Dame de Pic, choreographer and performer, Karine Ponties has created more than fourty dance pieces, presented on 4 continents, among whichEvery Direction is North (2017 Golden Mask - Russia), Mirliflor (2011 Golden Mask - Russia), Havran and Fidèle à l’éclair (2009 Mimos Price), Holeulone (2007 Best production of dance of the French Community in Belgium) and Brutalis (2002 Choreographic prize of the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques [SACD]). Her work is characterised by a flair for the absurd, exploring intimacy and interlacing relationships.

About La MaMa Umbria Director's Symposium

A training program for professional directors, choreographers, actors and others. Internationally renowned theatre artists conduct workshops and lecture/demonstrations. During the Symposium, participants will travel to Umbrian towns such as Orvieto, Perugia  or Assisi to get a taste of Umbrian art and culture. Performances at local arts festivals and community fairs are also included.  In addition, participating directors may conduct their own workshops to share insights and techniques with their colleagues.
Participants will be exposed to a variety of theatrical perspectives during the Symposium, from instructors who will expand their sense of what is possible in the theatre. Directors attending the Symposium see how prominent artists on the international scene create their unique productions. The workshops are participatory, and it is expected that all attendees will engage actively in the processes of the various teaching artists.  

Frequently Asked Questions

EXCURSIONS: While most of the time will be spent in workshops at La MaMa Umbria, at least one day has been set aside for excursions to nearby cities. We will attend at least one performance event at a local arts festival. There may also be opportunities to see additional performances on an ad hoc basis. The group will visit nearby towns such as Perugia, Umbria’s capital, Deruta, famous for ceramics painted by hand or Assisi, to see the famous Cathedral of St. Francis, Orvieto, etc. In addition, we will share an Italian tradition, a sagra, or community celebration of the specialties produced by small Umbrian villages (such as truffles, olive oil and wine.)
EXTRA WORKSHOPS: In addition to our internationally renowned guest teaching artists, there will be an opportunity for you and your colleagues to share exercises and techniques with each other in late night sessions. You may propose a special workshop to offer in one of the late (after dinner) sessions. Use the space on the registration form to describe what you would share. Not all proposals will be accepted based on time and space availability.
CREDIT: The La MaMa International Symposium is accredited through Sarah Lawrence College. While the Symposium is geared for working professionals, some slots may be filled by university students, who may get credit (2 credits for one session of the Symposium and 1 credit for the Retreat) for their participation through an arrangement with Sarah Lawrence College. For more information, please contact La MaMa at (212) 254-6468.
APPLICATION & FEE: Space is limited. Please fill out the Online Registration Form. Registrants will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, provided they are accepted into the Program. Registrants must fill out the Registration Form and forward a recent resume. The fee is US$ 2,900. There is a discount if you attend both Sessions. Space is secured with a deposit of $1,000 due with the registration form by May 15, 2020. $100 of the deposit is a non-refundable processing fee (unless the Symposium is already full when we receive your registration.)

support us

Many of our international artists cannot afford to make the trip to Umbria. On our 21st anniversary, we are offering scholarships to disadvantaged artists from countries that have had little to no representation in our residency programs. All donations will help us achieve this goal.

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