La MaMa Unearths Vintage Photos of Bette Midler, Harvey Fierstein and Sam Shepard

News   La MaMa Unearths Vintage Photos of Bette Midler, Harvey Fierstein and Sam Shepard
The landmark downtown theatre goes digital with 55 years of materials from its archives.
Bette Midler
Bette Midler Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Off-Off-Broadway’s La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club has launched its new Archival Digital Collections Website: The site, which features a treasure trove of photographs, production stills, key art, scripts, videos and press clippings, is freely available for use by artists, scholars, educators and the public.

Users can search for materials by year, production title, object type, company name, or individual artist, among other categories. Highlights of the collection include photographs of Bette Midler making her New York stage debut in Tom Eyen’s Miss Nefertiti Regrets at La MaMa in 1965; celebrated playwright Sam Shepard at La MaMa during the 1971 run of his Melodrama Play; and Harvey Fierstein during the 1979 run of Fugue in A Nursery.

“It is impossible to exaggerate how crucial the [La MaMa] archive is to the stories of American theatre, New York City, and innumerable facets of creative culture and the wider social currents this work traced and fomented,” comments theatre scholar Alisa Solomon (author of Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof) in a press statement.

Established in 1987, La MaMa’s Archives collects, preserves, and exhibits records of historical value relating to La MaMa and the Off-Off-Broadway movement. The digital collection premieres June 27 as part of the theatre's 55th anniversary season. La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 productions by 150,000 artists from more than 70 nations, and has helped launch the careers of countless artists.

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