La MaMa E.T.C. (Experimental Theatre Club) has been awarded the 2018 Regional Theatre Tony Award, becoming the second New York City-based theatre company to receive the honor. The award comes with a $25,000 grant.
The theatre was founded in 1961 by the late Ellen Stewart, who remained its director until her death in 2011 at the age of 91.
The company has become a stalwart of the Off-Off-Broadway movement, celebrating works that push the boundaries of language and culture while helping shape the careers of myriad theatre luminaries, including Sam Shepard, Diane Lane, Elizabeth Swados, Phillip Glass, Julie Taymor, Harvey Fierstein, and David and Amy Sedaris. Today, La MaMa presents over 70 productions a season in four theatres.
Such shows to be born out of La MaMa include Godspell (which began at the downtown venue as a non-musical play) and Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy, soon to return to Broadway (under the shortened title Torch Song).
“La MaMA E.T.C. is a staple of the New York theatre scene,” said Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin and American Theatre Wing President Heather Hitchens in a joint statement. “It is an exciting space where artists can grow, create, and push boundaries, and we are thrilled to be able to honor them this year.”
The special award was opened up to include New York theatre companies in the 2013–2014 season, with Signature Theatre Company becoming the first to receive it that year.
The 72nd annual Tony Awards ceremony, hosted by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban, will take place June 10, broadcast live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall. Nominations for the 26 competitive categories will be announced May 1.