New York City is blessed with an abundance of performance artists, and spaces where they can independently showcase their craft, off of the beaten (Broadway) path. One such locale is La Mama, a galleria where actors, musicians, dancers, and other artists from all walks of life have been performing and honing their skills for decades.
Founded in 1961 by Ellen Stewart, La Mama has existed as a performance space, as well as a place that provides invaluable tools for theater actors and artists of other mediums to use. According to the theater’s Mission Statement, “La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre…our interest has been in the people who make art, and it is to them that we give our support with free theater and rehearsal space, lights, sound, props, platforms, and whatever else we have that they can use to create their work. We want them to feel free to explore their ideas, and translate them into a theatrical language that can communicate to any person in any part of the world.”
Since it opened its doors in 1961, La Mama has been a place where both emerging and established artists can share a stage and learn from one another. Today, it remains a place where artists from around the world can share work and ideas, as well as perform to a very receptive, culturally appreciative New York City audience. Each season, La Mama hosts over one hundred productions, attracting audiences from all backgrounds who seek groundbreaking, provocative, and artistically brilliant shows.
Recently, a multimedia production titled “π=3.14…Ramallah-Fukushima-Bogotá Endless Peripheral Border” and arranged by Yoshiko Chuma ran at La Mama, and impressed audiences with its combination of dance, music, visual art, and storytelling, The New York Times summarizes the show: “The performance proper began with Ms. Chuma dancing violently in the light of a projected video. Beside her onstage, the Colombian musician Felipe Gómez Ossa played electric guitar. To the side and behind the audience, the violinist Aska Kaneko and the trombonist Christopher McIntyre added unsettling sounds. Ms. Chuma kept slamming into Mr. Gómez Ossa, grabbing his guitar and whacking the strings, violating personal boundaries. Less directly but just as forcefully, she conducted the other musicians,” describing Chuma as a “tightly controlled artist.”
This is typical of the kind of production La Mama hosts, encouraging artists to push the boundaries of their craft, and valuing artistic exploration in many mediums. Visit the La Mama’s official website to learn more about the theater, and to see the schedule of upcoming performances.