On Friday, Oct. 18, the public is invited to a free evening of food and friends when Off-Off-Broadway's legendary La MaMa Experimental Theatre Company celebrates its 35th anniversary.
Writer and composer Elizabeth Swados (Nightclub Cantata, Runaways, The Red Sneaks, Rap Master Ronnie, The Trojan Women) will perform in La MaMa's Annex Theater to celebrate the milestone, according to spokesman Jonathan Slaff.
Swados' concert performance will consist of an hour's worth of material from her major, three-act opera, Missionaries. The piece, still in progress, concerns the missionary nuns who were killed in El Salvador in 1980.
At the La MaMa concert, Swados will be joined by a small ensemble to perform the songs, which has its roots in rock rhythms, but also contains elements of Latin music and Catholic liturgical hymns.
Swados told Playbill On-Line that the piece may, in fact, be done at next year's Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, but that's not definite. For more information on Swados' current projects and her opinions on current musical trends, please hyperlink to my story on musicals in the wake of Rent's success.
The performance will begin at 7:30 PM with an informal reception to follow.
On Oct.18, 1961, Ellen Stewart signed her first lease on a basement space at 321 East Ninth St., N.Y., which was the beginning of her now internationally-known theatre. On the same date in 1974, Stewart opened a large Annex Theatre at 66 East Fourth Street with Swados and Andrei Serban's Fragments of a Greek Trilogy, a deconstruction of Medea, Elektra and The Trojan Women.
Over the years, and despite occasional perilous financial scrapes, La MaMa has become a celebrated home of experimental and international theatre. For example, this fall will bring to La MaMa a Polish theatre festival, an Israeli theatre troupe, an experimental Latin American theatre, and a company from Sofia, Bulgaria.
The Trojan Women, again presented by the Great Jones Repertory, again directed by Swados and Serban, will be revived at La MaMa, Dec. 12-29. The show was last seen as part of La MaMa's 25th Anniversary celebration in 1987. This production's Dec. 12 gala opening will be hosted by socialite Sherry "Peaches" Bronfman who, as Sherry Brewer, began her dance career in La MaMa's "Cotton Club" (1976), which was written and directed by La MaMa's founder/director, Ellen Stewart.
For information on the free Oct. 18 event, as well as The Trojan Women, call La MaMa at (212) 254-6468.
-- By David Lefkowitz