The Archives of La Mama Announce the Launch of La Mama’s Digital Collections Website

June 28, 2016 | News | Tags:
The Archives of La MaMa is pleased to announce the launch of La MaMa’s Digital Collections Website.

The Archives of La MaMa is pleased to announce the launch of La MaMa’s Digital Collections Website (http://catalog.lamama.org.) Its development was made possible by a generous “hidden archival collections” grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources. The site, which premieres on June 27, 2016 as part of La MaMa’s 55th anniversary season, is freely available for use by artists, scholars, educators, and the interested public.

Established in 1987, La MaMa’s Archives collects, preserves, and exhibits records of permanent historical value relating to La MaMa and the Off-Off-Broadway movement. Theatre scholar Alisa Solomon (author of Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof) says: “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.”

La MaMa’s Digital Collections Website is both a collections catalog and a digital archive. Most of the materials currently on the site document La MaMa’s earliest “Pushcart” years (1961-1985). Items will continue to be added in the months and years to come. It offers free public access to digitized selections from La MaMa’s unique collection of scripts, programs, posters, flyers, clippings, correspondence, photographs, videos, and other materials. It also provides a fresh window onto the history of the Off-Off-Broadway theatre movement, and to the playwrights, directors, companies, communities, and ideas that shaped it.

Conserved by people immersed in the theatre, La MaMa’s collections offer an intimate perspective on major social, aesthetic and political movements of the 20th and 21st centuries that resonates with histories of peoples across the globe. Where else would you find original plays by Vietnam War veterans alongside video of performances about the AIDS crisis, unpublished scripts by Japanese filmmaker Shuji Terayama, and correspondence by Polish revolutionary director Tadeusz Kantor?

You don’t have to be a scholar to enjoy this new digital resource. These collections will excite the imaginations of writers, artists, students, and theatre-lovers the world over.

Highlights include:

  • Photographs of Bette Midler making her New York stage debut in Tom Eyen’s “Miss Nefertiti Regrets” at La MaMa in 1965;
  • Glowing reviews of early versions of Harvey Fierstein’s award-winning “Torch Song Trilogy”;
  • A membership card to John Vaccaro’s Playhouse of the Ridiculous;
  • Production stills from a 16mm film by Shirley Clarke, documenting the La MaMa Plexus company in-residence at Kent State in 1969;
  • Programs and flyers for productions by a long list of pioneering artists and ensembles, such as:
    • Amiri Baraka
    • Julie Bovasso
    • Peter Brook
    • Ed Bullins
    • Steve Buscemi
    • Joseph Chaikin
    • Ping Chong
    • Jackie Curtis
    • Candy Darling
    • The E.T.C. Company
    • Tom Eyen
    • Harvey Fierstein
    • Phillip Glass
    • The Great Jones Repertory Company
    • Adrienne Kennedy
    • Wilford Leach
    • Mabou Mines
    • La MaMa Plexus
    • Diane Lane
    • The La MaMa Troupe
    • Leonard Melfi
    • Meredith Monk
    • Rochelle Owens
    • Tom O’Horgan
    • The Pan-Asian Repertory Theatre
    • Ron Perlman
    • Andrei Serban
    • Sam Shepard
    • Elizabeth Swados
    • Cecil Taylor
    • Shuji Terayama
    • Jeff Weiss
    • Joel Zwick

La MaMa’s Digital Collections Website was built on an open-source platform called CollectiveAccess. Users can search for materials by year, production title, object type, company name, or individual artist, among other categories.

 About La MaMa. La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. The organization has a worldwide reputation for producing daring performance works that defy form and transcend barriers of ethnic and cultural identity. Founded in 1961 by award-winning theatre pioneer Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 productions by 150,000 artists from more than 70 nations. A recipient of more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has helped launch the careers of countless artists, many of whom have made important contributions to American and international arts milieus.