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Yara Arts Group's "GAZ." (Photo by Eugen Maloletka)

La MaMa Announces 2019-20 Season of Celebration

The season will celebrate the centennial of the company’s late founder, Ellen Stewart, with a slate of new and revived works.

NEW YORK CITY: La MaMa has announced its 2019-20 season, featuring more than 20 premieres in celebration of La MaMa’s founder, the late Ellen Stewart.

“During this landmark centennial year I reflect on Ellen’s vision, and the impact and necessity of that vision,” said artistic director Mia Yoo in a statement. “Her vision dreams of a world where a multiplicity of perspectives is essential and where art is a means to bring people together. I am grateful to be a part of this artistic community that she nurtured, and this season again I am energized by its tenacity, passion, bravery, and transformative work.”

The season will open with the world premiere of Lilac Co.’s Magic Agency Chapter 4: Bro-Tox (Sept. 13, 20, 21), about two middle-aged brothers who discuss the decline of the white male in contemporary American society. The cast will feature Sean Lewis and Jim Fletcher.

Next will be the U.S. premiere of This is Why We Live (Sept. 19-29), by Open Heart Surgery Theatre Company, a compilation of poetry, live music, and collage that explores the work of Polish poet Wisława Szymborska. Coleen MacPherson will direct.

Following will be the U.S. premiere of Somewhere at the Beginning (Sept. 26-28), by Germaine Acogny and Mikaël Serre. The play, co-presented as part of Crossing the Line Festival, interweaves Acogny’s personal narrative with African history.

Next will be the world premiere of Stefanie Batten-Bland’s Look Who’s Coming to Dinner (Oct. 3-6), a dance-theatre piece inspired by the film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, presented by Company SBB as part of the Crossing the Line Festival.

The season will continue with the world premiere of All My Fathers (Oct. 3-20), by Paul Young, a drama about the playwright’s elderly mother who, while suffering from dementia, reveals that Young is the bastard child of her former employer. Evan Yionoulis will direct.

Next up will be Everyday Murder (Oct. 3-20), created and directed by Uwe Mengel, a participatory performance featuring three performers that will take place outside the La MaMa theatre.

Following will be 400 Years of Inequity and Protest (Oct. 12-15), a reflection upon the 400-year anniversary of the British founding of Jamestown. The three-night series will feature Re: Entry– Actors Playing Jazz, a story about eight formerly incarcerated men, directed by Estelle Parsons; poetry readings co-curated by James E. Reynolds, Kyle Dacuyan, and Nicky Paraiso; and Casting the Vote: Call To A Count, directed by Charlotte Brathwaite.

Puppeteer and theatre artists Jane Catherine Shaw will curate The La MaMa Puppet Slam (Oct. 24-26), a three-day event featuring works by emerging and veteran puppet artists.

La MaMa will present a celebration of Teatro Patologico (Nov.1-3), by Dario D’Ambrosi, featuring films, panel discussions, and a solo performance Tutti Non Ci Sono (We Are Not Alone), first presented at La MaMa in 1980.

Next will be the world premiere of Clowns Ex Machina’s The Bad’uns: Clown Acts of Contagion (Nov. 7-17), created and directed by Kendall Cornell. Inspired by a group of famous female criminals, the play is a dark comedy about the corruption of dreams, morality, and the social constraints of womanhood.

Following will be the Eugene Lang College at the New School University’s presentation of Hoppla, We’re Alive! (Nov. 7-10), adapted by Ulrich Lehmann, Drew Lichtenberg, and Zishan Ugurlu from Ernst Toller. The play is a dissection of political conspiracies, feminist emancipation, and struggles against power. Ugurlu will direct.

Next up will be the world premiere of Virgo Star (Nov. 14-Dec. 1), a dance-theatre piece that puts a queer spin on Western movies and the myth of the cowboy. Gian Marco Lo Forte will direct.

The season will continue with Philip Glass’s Days and Nights Fetsival (Nov. 14-17), featuring a tribute to playwright María Irene Fornés, directed by JoAnne Akalaitis; Theatre Work: Club Diamond; spoken word by Jerry Quickley and Arturo Bejar, performed live with Philip Glass at the piano; and the festival will conclude with a concert featuring Philip Glass and violinist Tim Fain.

Following will be the world premiere of Theater Three Collective’s Other Than We (Nov. 21-Dec. 1), written and directed by Karen Malpede. This eco-feminist drama offers a response to the environmental, social, and political issues plaguing our world, and explores the birth of a new, post-homo sapiens vision.

Next up will be The Dark Star From Harlem–The Spectacular Rise of Josephine Baker (Nov. 21-Dec. 1), with book by Glynn Borders, and music and lyrics by Mario E. Sprouse. The musical, which follows Baker’s rise to fame, was produced at La MaMa in 1989.

The season will continue with Great Jones Repertory Company’s The Trojan Women Project Festival (Dec. 5-15). The company has traveled to areas of conflict over the past five years to collaborate and recreate a production of The Trojan Women. This festival is a culmination of this work and will feature performances, panels, and workshops. Andrei Serban will direct.

Following will be the U.S. premiere of Where we are now (Dec. 11-21), conceived and performed by Sven Ratzke. Dirk Groeneveld will direct Ratzke’s performance of storytelling and music.

Just in time for the holidays will be Christmas in Nickyland (Dec. 22), a cabaret  curated and hosted by Nicky Paraiso.

Next will be the U.S. premiere of Yara Arts Group’s GAZ (Dec. 19-22), with music Roman Grygoriv and Illia Razumeiko. The story follows workers preparing a futuristic gas, the only source of energy for the industrial world. Virlana Tkacz will direct.

The new year will kick off with the U.S. premiere of Beton Ltd.’s Ich kann nicht anders (I cannot help it) (Jan. 16-19, 2020), a show in which audience members are cast as voyeurs, witnessing intimate moments of three people’s lives.

Following will be the U.S. premiere of Komuna Warszawa’s Cezary Goes to War (Jan. 16-19, 2020), a biography of the director that serves as a pretext for three performers and a pianist  to create their own queer fantasy. Cezary Tomaszewski will direct.

Next up will be the world premiere of The Transfiguration of Benjamin Banneker (Jan. 23-Feb. 2, 2020), about the life of Benjamin Banneker, an African American scientist who taught himself mathematics and astronomy. The show will feature dance, puppetry, a drumline, and music by the Soul Tigers Marching Band. Theodora Skipitares will direct.

Following will be the world premiere of Object Collection’s You Are Under Our Space Control (Jan. 23-Feb. 2, 2020), written and directed by Kara Feely, featuring music by Travis Just. This utopian space opera explores space travel, transhumanism, astronautics, and progressive politics.

Next will be the New York premiere of The Beautiful Lady (April-May, 2020), by Elizabeth Swados and Paul Schmidt. The play takes place on the eve of the 1917 October Revolution and follows a group of influential Russian poets. Anne Bogart will direct.

Additional spring programming will be announced at a later date.

In addition to the season lineup, La MaMa will host the Indian Market and Social (Dec. 5-8), a shopping market featuring goods crafted by Native American artists from across the nation; La MaMa will also present Coffeehouse Chronicles, a monthly series of works by women artists; the company will also produce works for children throughout the year.

Founded in 1961, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club is an Off Off Broadway theatre company that produces and presents avant-garde performance works from across the globe.

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