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La Mama Experimental Theater Club

About this listing

A theater that seeks to develop, nurture, support, produce and present new and original performance work by artists of all nations and cultures

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : East Village
Theater, Performance

Place Matters Profile

By Joan Giummo

In the early 1960s, an aspiring fashion designer, Ellen Stewart, met a mentor in the form of a Lower East Side merchant and former pushcart operator, Abraham Diamond. He advised her to always keep a mental pushcart in front of her. She did. Her pushcart was the dream of creating an innovative theatre center. That dream hatched La Mama Experimental Theatre Club.

The word club in the title suggests supporters, and there have been important ones, such as the New York State Council on the Arts, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. But there have also been evictions, Con Edison shutoff notices, Equity union challenges, New York City building code violations, and other obstacles. Despite all, La Mama has had a continuous run from 1961 to the present in changing locations.

It has a phenomenal group of alumni whose talent and success reflect...

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On The Web

La Mama e.t.c. website
Fourth Art Blocks website


Anonymous Nominator

There are two historic buildings, one of which is city owned, and a large annex built in 1845. It was used for Yiddish Theatre, Israeli, German "Cinderella Society," a site of performing arts organizations since 1860s. Actors/producers live on surrounding streets. Second and third generation Puerto Ricans (and other immigrants) are employed there-- integrated into La Mama activities since the 70s.

Andrea Coyle

I speak about founder, Ellen Stewart, on my weekly walking tour, "Women Movers & Shakers" of The Lower East Side. Log on at:

74 E 4th St, La Mama Experimental Theater Club, helped to launch the careers of countless actors, such as Bette Midler & Sam Shepard. It also has beautiful detailing, replete with busts in the pediments. (March 2009)

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