Saturday, January 15, 2011

Inspiration, dedication, determination

Ellen Stewart, the Mama of LaMama, died on January 13, 2011. I can't stop thinking about her.  I'd seen a production of Lanford Wilson's "The Rimer's of Eldritch" at her theater on East Fourth Street soon after moving to New York City. Ellen introduced the play looking like a gypsy - all spangles and bangles and wild, wild hair.  Someone whispered "That's LaMama."   "Who?" I said.  (Hey, I was young.)

In 2007 I had the opportunity to be one of the artists in residence at her theatre center in Umbria, north of Rome. Although we were told Ellen was there, weeks went by without seeing her. Finally one night she joined us after dinner. It was obvious she was ailing, but that didn't diminish the impact of her presence.  We pelted her with questions about her career - all of them some form of "how did you do it?"

 "It never occurred to me I couldn't."

Those words carry special significance as we work to form the Flying Anvil Theatre.  Ellen Stewart was a fierce fuse, an incredible role model of inspiration, dedication and determination.  I was in Italy for a month, writing, eating pasta, and breathing the same air as Ellen.  Is it too much to hope that a few  molecules rubbed off?          Staci

    NY Times Obituary for Ellen Stewart

1 comment:

  1. Funny that we've never talked about this. I met Ellen Stewart as well - once briefly at the Clarence Brown Theatre, before a play. I don't know what she was doing in Knoxville, but I'll never forget her presence. She radiated power and certainty. She was a giant. Godspeed to her, and may we find some of her spirit within us!