La MaMa Presents EXISTENTIALISM, Directed by Anne Bogart, as part of Talking Band's 50th Anniversary Season, FEB 23 - MAR 10
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 05:30 pm EST 02/06/24

LA MAMA PRESENTS WORLD PREMIERE OF EXISTENTIALISM AS PART OF TALKING BAND’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON, FEBRUARY 23 – MARCH 10

Award-Winning Director Anne Bogart Reunites with Talking Band 35 Years After Their First Obie-Winning Collaboration

“Talking Band is one of the boldest and most venerable politically minded companies in New York.” – The New York Times

La MaMa is proud to present the world premiere of Existentialism as part of Talking Band’s 50th Anniversary Season. Created and directed by Anne Bogart in collaboration with Ellen Maddow and Paul Zimet, who perform, Existentialism is an urgent, funny, and poetic work that reunites Talking Band with director Bogart 35 years after their first Obie-winning collaboration. Running February 23–March 10, with an opening set for February 26, performances take place at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre, located at 66 E 4th Street. Tickets are now on sale at www.lamama.org.

Existentialism takes place in two small houses side by side in a vast space. A woman lives in one. A man in the other—a couple, both close and apart. During their daily routines, they grapple with the big question: how to create a meaningful life in a world where the only certainty is the inexorable passage of time. Bogart won her first Obie award for No Plays No Poetry, her previous collaboration with Talking Band

“Anne brings a sense of excitement, adventure, and curiosity to the creative process,” says Ellen Maddow and Paul Zimet of Talking Band. “Her directorial style and personality combine an unusual combination of clarity and confidence in her vision with an openness to being inspired by what others bring to the process. In working with Anne, we felt challenged and encouraged to explore deeper, to be more daring, and to have more fun. We loved working with Anne 35 years ago on No Plays, No Poetry” and knew that working with her again would throw us off balance in the most positive way.”

“When Ellen and Paul suggested that we might work together again, I knew immediately that we would create a piece called Existentialism ,” said Anne Bogart, adding “and that it would be inspired by the relationship between Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and, also, Ellen and Paul and who they are and how they function in the world together. It’s both personal and objective, a close-up on these two people and a long-shot of the dangers that surround us, and the difficulties and pluses of a long-term relationship.”

Fourteen performances of Existentialism will take place February 23 – March 10, 2024, at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre, located at 66 E 4th Street. Critics are welcome as of Saturday, February 24 at 7pm for an opening on Monday, February 26. The performance schedule is Thursday–Saturday at 7pm and Sundays at 2pm plus Saturday, February 24 at 2pm, Monday, February 26 at 7pm and Wednesday, March 6 at 7pm. The anticipated running time is 70 minutes with no intermission. Tickets to preview performances, February 23–25, are Pay-What-You-Can starting at $10. General admission tickets are $40 and $35 for students or seniors. The first 10 tickets to every performance are $10 each. Tickets are available at www.lamama.org.

Talking Band’s 50th anniversary season kicked off with the world premiere of The Following Evening at the Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC). The New York Times called this collaboration with 600 Highwaymen “a meditation on mortality and renewal, art and evanescence, embrace and entanglement.” The season closes May 1–19 at Mabou Mines’ Second Floor Theater at 122CC with Shimmer and Herringbone , a collaboration with acclaimed costume designer Olivera Gajic. The boldness of this milestone season is an accomplishment few artist-led companies have achieved.

Since its founding in 1974 by Paul Zimet, Ellen Maddow, and Tina Shepard—all former members of Joseph Chaikin’s iconic Open Theater—Talking Band has remained a cornerstone of New York City’s avant-garde theater community. Over the past 50 years, Talking Band has created over 50 new works illuminating the extraordinary dimensions of ordinary life, each marked by a commitment to radical collaboration and a fusion of diverse theatrical styles and perspectives. Combining richly textured music-theater with striking visual imagery, Talking Band’s elegant, eloquent, profound performance work is infused with creative generosity that makes each show an experience that is as emotionally moving as it is aesthetically rich. Collectively, the company and founders have earned 15 OBIE Awards and numerous other honors. Talking Band is a resident company at La MaMa and has performed at nearly all of New York City’s celebrated downtown venues. Its original productions have toured throughout the U.S. and internationally to 14 countries.


Please visit www.talkingband.org to learn more about its 50th anniversary season.


About the Artists

Anne Bogart is a theater and opera director and former Co-Artistic Director of the SITI Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki in 1992. She is a Professor at Columbia University where she runs the Graduate Directing Program. Later works with SITI include Radio Christmas Carol, Falling & Loving; The Bacchae, Chess Match No. 5; Lost in the Stars; The Theater is a Blank Page; Persians; Steel Hammer; A Rite; Café Variations; Trojan Women (After Euripides); and American Document. Recent operas include Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, Ruders’ The Handmaid’s Tale, Handel’s Alcina, Dvorak’s Dimitrij Verdi’s Macbeth, Bellini’s Norma, and Bizet’s Carmen. She is the author of six books: A Director Prepares; The Viewpoints Book; And Then, You Act; Conversations with Anne, What’s the Story, and The Art of Resonance.

Ellen Maddow is a founding member of Talking Band. Plays she has written and composed music for include Lemon Girls or Art for the Artless, Fusiform Gyrus - A Septet For Two Scientists and Five Horn, Fat Skirt Big Nozzle (with Louise Smith), Burnished by Grief, The Golden Toad (with Paul Zimet), The Peripherals, Panic! Euphoria! Blackout, Flip Side, Delicious Rivers, Painted Snake In A Painted Chair and five pieces about the avant-garde housewife, Betty Suffer. She also composed music for Talking Band’s production of The City of No Illusions, The Room Sings and Marcellus Shale, Taylor Mac’s Walk Across America For Mother Earth, and Liz Duffy Adam’s Buccaneers (Children’s Theatre of Minneapolis) among others. Maddow performed in Clare Barron’s Dance Nation at Playwrights Horizons, for which she received a Drama Desk Award, and at Steppenwolf in Chicago. She is a recipient of a 2020 NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music, and Theatre award, an Obie Award for Playwriting, a NYFA Playwriting Fellowship, a McKnight Playwriting Fellowship, the Frederick Loewe Award in Musical Theatre, and the NEA/TCG Award for Playwrights. She was a member of the Open Theatre from 1971-1973 and is an alumnus of New Dramatists.


Paul Zimet is the Artistic Director of Talking Band. Born and raised in New York City, he studied clarinet and voice at the High School of Music and Art, comparative literature at Columbia College, and medicine at Harvard Medical School. Music-theater works he has written and directed include Lemon Girls or Art for the Artless , City of No Illusions, The Room Sings, The Golden Toad (with Ellen Maddow) Marcellus Shale, New Islands Archipelago, Imminence, Belize , The Parrot, Star Messengers, Bitterroot , Party Time, Black Milk Quartet and New Cities. Paul has directed over 30 productions for Talking Band and received a 2003 Village Voice OBIE award for his direction of Painted Snake in a Painted Chair by Ellen Maddow. He directed Taylor Mac’s The Walk Across America for Mother Earth and The Deity, the first section of Taylor Mac’s OBIE award winning epic, The Lily’s Revenge. He received three OBIE awards for his work with the Open Theater and the Winter Project, both directed by Joseph Chaikin, the John C. Lippmann “New Frontier” Award and the Frederick Loewe Award in Musical Theater, a Playwrights’ Center National McKnight Fellowship, playwriting fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, a New Dramatists/Children’s Theatre Playground commission, a Rockefeller/Creative Capital MAP Fund grant, and a Fulbright Fellowship. He is Associate Professor Emeritus in Theatre at Smith College, and an alumnus of New Dramatists.

About La MaMa

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. La MaMa's 62nd “Radical Access” Season comes on the heels of our 61st season when we re-opened our newly-renovated, original theater at 74 E. 4th St. The building's $24 million makeover provides the return of the fully accessible Club, a new Community Arts Space for neighboring groups in the East Village, and an expanded public lobby and galleries. Our “Radical Access” initiative builds an infrastructure of opportunity that supports new ways of connecting us to people and communities around the world, expanding our means of connectivity and providing space where artists and digital tools converge from multiple points of entry.

La MaMa has been honored with 30+ Obie Awards, dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie Awards, Villager Awards, the 2018 Regional Theatre Tony Award, and most recently a 2023 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Special Citation. We are a creative home to artists and resident companies from around the world, many of whom have made lasting contributions to the arts, including Blue Man Group, Bette Midler, Ed Bullins, Ping Chong, Jackie Curtis, André De Shields, Adrienne Kennedy, Harvey Fierstein, Diane Lane, Playhouse of the Ridiculous, Tom Eyen, Pan Asian Rep, Spiderwoman Theater, Tadeusz Kantor, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Mabou Mines, Meredith Monk, Peter Brook, David and Amy Sedaris, Julie Taymor, Kazuo Ohno, Tom O'Horgan, Andrei Serban, Liz Swados, and Andy Warhol. La MaMa's vision of nurturing new artists and new work from all nations, cultures, races and identities remains as strong today as it was when Ellen Stewart first opened the doors in 1961.
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