Sam Shepard to Receive La MaMa's First-Ever Ellen Stewart Award

News   Sam Shepard to Receive La MaMa's First-Ever Ellen Stewart Award Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard has been announced as the inaugural recipient of the Ellen Stewart Award, named in honor of the late founder of the downtown experimental theatre company La MaMa, who died Jan. 13 at age 91.

Shepard, whose early works were nurtured by Stewart at La MaMa, will be honored during the company's 2011 gala on Oct. 17 at 6:30 PM in the Ellen Stewart Theatre.

The honor is presented "to an artist who embodies the courage and pioneering spirit that Ms. Stewart encouraged at La MaMa, an artist who carries on her ideal of challenging conventional theatrical boundaries and expanding our understanding of human potential."

As part of the honor, Shepard will also select a young theatre artist to create a new work to be presented and produced at La MaMa.

The gala will include entertainment from actors and writers with ties to La MaMa, including Wallace Shawn, Estelle Parsons, John Kelly, Justin Bond, Scott Wittman, Taylor Mac and Elizabeth Swados.

Split Britches' Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver will host the evening that will include an excerpt of Shawn's The Hotel Play (in which he will also appear); as well as Estelle Parsons and John Kelly in a scene from Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy. Justin Bond and Scott Wittman will also pay tribute to late playwright/performer Jackie Curtis of the Cockettes, with a scene from his play Vain Victory; and Taylor Mac will offer highlights from The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac. Swados is also announced to share excerpts from her La MaMa Cantata, which is composed of Stewart's own spoken words. It will have its world premiere Nov. 7.

Shepard is a Pulitzer winner for his play Buried Child. His plays also include Kicking a Dead Horse, True West (Tony and Pulitzer nomination), Curse of the Starving Class, Tongues, Simpatico and Fool for Love (Pulitzer nomination). He earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance in "The Right Stuff," and has appeared in the films "Brothers," "The Assassination of Jesse James…," "The Return," "The Notebook," "Hamlet," "Snow Falling on Cedars," "Steel Magnolias," "The Pelican Brief" and "Crimes of the Heart."

Tickets are available by calling (212) 475-7710 or by visiting LaMaMa. LaMaMa e.t.c. is located at 74A East 4th Street in Manhattan.

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