The Playgoer: Ellen Stewart

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ellen Stewart

Words just getting around this morning that Ellen Stewart, founder and eternal director of the legendary LaMama space, died last night at 91.

She had been not well for a long time, so it's not a shock.  But she could still be seen at LaMama openings and events frequently up to the end, even in her wheelchair.  More important than her valiant end, though, are her vitally important beginnings in, a) founding the space, b) nurturing the notable talent than came through it in the early days (Andrei Serban, Liz Swados, Sam Shepard), and c) keeping an Off-Off Broadway institution going--despite multiple changes in venue, despite a devastating economic landscape--for forty fifty years.

More tributes from others doubtlessly to come in the coming days...

3 comments:

The Playgoer said...

Times has an obit up for her now. I guess they saw it coming--it was written by a dead man! (Mel Gussow, who shares by-line with the still-living Bruce Weber, who dusted it off I guess.)
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/14/theater/14stewart.html?_r=1&hp

George Hunka said...

Actually it's fifty years almost to the day -- founded in 1961.

The Playgoer said...

Yikes, George, you're right! I still think it's 2001, apparently. Much thanks, and duly corrected...