La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. It has a worldwide reputation for producing daring work in theatre, dance, performance art, and music that defies form and transcends barriers of ethnic and cultural identities. Founded in 1961 by theatre pioneer and legend Ellen Stewart, the organization has evolved over the decades from a small basement theater to a multi-sited, international organization. Its four-building campus in the East Village is home to four theaters, an art gallery, rehearsal studios, a visiting artist dormitory, offices, and La MaMa Archives.
La MaMa Archives preserves this important institutional and cultural history— the artists, companies, and historic productions that have taken place at La MaMa and that have had a lasting influence on the American performing arts landscape. The most extensive collection of its kind, La MaMa Archives documents the advent and growth of the experimental theatre movement.
La MaMa’s archival collection includes over 50,000 unique items–posters, programs, costumes, puppets, and photographs, scripts, correspondence, and audiovisual materials– that together chronicle the institution’s fifty-plus year history. (For more about the history of our collection, click here.) A portion of this material (from La MaMa’s early, “pushcart” years) was cataloged between April 2014 and March 2016 thanks to a generous grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources Hidden Collections Grant Program; we created this blog during that project to share our discoveries over that two-year period.
In Spring 2016, we launched our digital catalog, available here, and we encourage people to explore our collections. Cataloging and digitization work is ongoing, and we add new things every day, so be sure to check back, or contact us with questions. Now, in La MaMa’s 57th year, we are working on digitizing our analog video collection thanks to a hugely generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, which you can read about here. Follow our blog for more updates on that project and all the other exciting work being done here at the archive.
If you would like to contact the archives, please email archives [at] lamama [dot] org. For questions related to this blog, contact sophie [at] lamama [dot] org.