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La MaMa Experimental Theatre: a lasting bridge between cultures

Project description

How La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club helped change perceptions

The La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club was founded by Ellen Stewart, who is often credited with creating the oldest remaining, and most influential, off-off-Broadway theatre – a place that overcame cultural and geopolitical barriers for underrepresented artists. The EU-funded MariBet project will conduct an in-depth study of the history of this theatre from 1961 to 1975, the crucial period of artistic sharing between La MaMa and European artists, including a selection of its historical productions directed by European director Andrei Serban. The project further aims to analyse the theatre’s engagement in approaching relevant socio-political issues and promoting intercultural dialogues both in the past and the present.


MariBet is focused on the activity of La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club of New York, founded by Ellen Stewart (1919-2011) in 1961 in order to give voice to artists marginalized by both the institutional theatres of Broadway and the Off-Broadway scene: a theatre conceived as an integration point in overcoming cultural and geo-political barriers and engaging artists in a common artistical research. Nowadays La MaMa produces performances always addressed to current social issues like immigration and welcoming refugees. The topic of the research is then in line with the current European political situation marked by the debate on migration flow.
Main objectives are: 1. fill the gap in the field of theatre studies with an in-depth study of the history of La MaMa on which there are no exhaustive investigations yet; 2. analyse its engagement in promoting intercultural dialogues both in the past and in the present. These objectives will be reached through an interdisciplinary research, combining the historical and semiological investigation to the sociological analysis of the issues related to the performances presented by La MaMa. This project is timely because the historical distance from the facts allows a critical objectivity in the study of the subject, the emerging interest on the comparison between Avant-Garde theatre and contemporary theatre, the principles investigated by La MaMa over the years still impact on our society today.
The project (36 months) will be hosted at the Department of Cultures and Civilizations (CUCI - UNIVR, Italy) and in the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center (MESTC, Graduate Center – CUNY, US), involving the non-academic cultural institution La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club of New York. The detailed research and training program will be supervised by prof. Simona Brunetti (main supervisor) and by prof. Marvin Carlson (in US), both renowned scholars of theatre with expertise in History and Theory of Theatre.


Net EU contribution
€ 251 002,56
37129 Verona

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Nord-Est Veneto Verona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 251 002,56

Partners (1)