La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club has laid out plans for its 2020–2021 season, which will focus on the creation of new works across the digital and physical theatre landscape during the coronavirus pandemic. The centerpiece of the season (dubbed the “Breaking It Open” season) is a lineup of Artist Residents, who will receive grants, time, space, and resources to create pieces and develop initiatives that experiment with new and existing mediums.
Among the residents are composer Philip Glass, dancer-choreographer Shauna Davis, playwright Murielle Borst-Tarrant, Great Jones Repertory with Dan Safer, Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company, conceptual artist and activist Yoshiko Chuma, writer-performer Paul Lazar, composer Jerome Ellis, choreographer John Maria Gutierrez, choreographer Bobbi Jene Smith, performance duo Split Britches, performer Timothy White Eagle, composer Justin Hicks, puppeteer Leah Ogawa, and theatre artist Stacey Karen Robinson.
In addition to the creation of new works, the residencies aim to experiment with audience configurations, live streaming capabilities, rethinking theatre spaces as broadcast studios, and more as the traditional theatregoing practice has been effectively rendered obsolete for the foreseeable future. Initial projects will include Chuma’s Love Story: School of Hard Knocks (October 1–18), Glass’ Days and Nights Festival (November 9–15), and Smith’s Revisiting Lost Mountain (November 16–December 6).
"We are not trying to replace in-person theatre," says Artistic Director Mia Yoo. "There will always be that, and we will always present live performance in a physical theatre space. However, we need to empower artists to experiment with new tools, re-imagine existing forms, and invent new mediums that tell stories and examine our humanity through artistic expression."
As with most theatre companies around the country, La MaMa begins its season online with the continuation of its digital programming, including its Downtown Variety series, La MaMa Kids Online, and various live talks. A September 18 launch event will feature Belarus Free Theatre, Annie-B Parson, Stacy Stearns, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky, D’Mani Thomas, and more. Additionally, the theatre will host a Design Festival, with winners’ work presented during a live-streamed celebration September 29; one grant prize winner will receive the opportunity to design a show in the following season.
For more information about the 59th lineup, visit LaMaMa.org.