Encomium for a Godmother (R.I.P. Ellen Stewart)

January 13, 2011

Another sad passing today as we learn that Ellen Stewart, founder and artistic director of LaMama E.T.C. has taken her show heavenward. There can be no exaggerating her importance to the off-off-Broadway theatre community. Her passing away now at age 92 has a personal irony for me at this moment. Since moving to this city it has been a goal of mine to have a show at LaMama, the birthplace of so much I hold dear. A few years ago, after reviewing a couple of her Greek myth productions, she and I talked about my doing something there, and it’s finally coming to pass. My show opens there on March 17, but it looks now like it will be happening in an entirely different era. Still, there will be much of her in it, I think. The kind of work we’ll be attempting largely came into the world through her midwifery. She is a Godmother with many, many children.