By Barbara L. Horn
This research chronicles the lifestyles and occupation of Ellen Stewart and her experimental theater, Cafe l. a. Mama. as soon as an comprehensive Black designer, Stewart--with no adventure in theater--founded and constructed some of the most influential experimental theaters on the earth. the quantity features a brief biography, a chronology of the main major occasions relating to Stewart and l. a. Mama, a checklist of the greater than 1400 performs produced at los angeles Mama, and an annotated bibliography. Appendices record los angeles Mama's Obie awards, awards received by way of Stewart, and exhibits directed by means of Stewart. the amount offers a desirable account of the actual, emotional, and political stipulations surrounding the background of Cafe l. a. Mama, whereas concentrating on a Black American artist who boldly solid a distinct segment in a space formerly inaccessible to Black ladies.
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Additional info for Ellen Stewart and La Mama: A Bio-Bibliography (Bio-Bibliographies in the Performing Arts)
76 The group boarded a freighter with one-way tickets that cost $118 a piece. There were no return arrangements. Packed in two Bijou sample boxes were the props, costumes, and backdrops. 78 As Alexander recalled, “Ellen decided that it was important to hit avant-garde Paris with our ‘big guns,’ so Jean-Claude van Itallie’s America Hurrah! ”79 When the actors destroyed a motel room and scrawled “Piss,” “Cunt,” “Cock,” and “Fuck” all over the walls during the dress rehearsal, the La Mama group discovered that the Americans in charge of the center were no more liberal than their counterparts in the United States.
At the suggestion of beat poet Allen Ginsberg, Sam Shepard joined the group in 1965 to have Dog (P102), Chicago (P181), and Melodrama Play (P239) presented. 49 At 82 Second Avenue, Stewart began yet another ritual--that of sitting on the steps of La Mama while the play was in progress, especially on opening night, to make certain that intruding civic authorities didn’t interrupt performances. Cafe La Mama was, indeed, well-attended by the police and the fire departments, as Stewart’s archival material suggests.
28 Prior to the first production, Stewart and Foster met the person who offered to design the lights. He walked in and asked where the gels were. Stewart and Foster just looked at one another, neither knowing what a gel was. ” “And he just turned right back and said, ‘Don’t look at me. ”29 The second play presented was Eugene O’Neill’s Before Breakfast (P2). 31 The stage itself was about the size of a table, approximately three feet by ten, and large enough to fit only the bed. The bed, which the group found on the street, was the one set, the one and only prop.