2. La MaMa Experimental Theater Club
Another originator of the Off-Off-Broadway movement was La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. La MaMa is an avant-garde, experimental and international performance venue in the East Village. The theater was founded by dress maker Ellen Stewart when she offered her East Village basement as a place for her foster brother to put on his plays. Stewart had no experience in the theater and corresponding laws, so she had to move a number of times until La MaMa settled at the current complex on East Fourth Street.
Because of Stewart’s accessible nature and open minded support of playwrights, La MaMa has been invaluable to the worldwide theater community. Playwrights Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson and Harvey Fierstein were all nurtured at La MaMa. Robert De Niro, Whoopi Goldberg, Patti Smith, and Bette Midler also walked across the stage here. Other works nurtured at La MaMa that became mainstream successes include the musicals Godspell and Hair.
This summer at La MaMa catch a living history tour questioning the relationship between audience and performers, a play about Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko and a punk redux of Verdi’s Rigoletto.