In Memoriam: Being Ellen Stewart (1919—2011)-My conversation with the great La Mama, Ellen Stewart, which I pulled from my archive and posted below (after the obit), took place in her Lower East Side apartment. It was February 2003, and she was preparing to direct the vampire opera, Carmilla, one of La Mama’s signature pieces, with Wilford Leach’s ETC Company and her beloved Great Jones Repertory. It was not our first interview. We had spoken many many times. In fact, I got my start as a theater artist at La MaMa E.T.C., and she always encouraged me to create a new piece. But I had to work to survive in New York and did not always possess the means to create and produce my own show. (Her frequent advice to aspiring artists was “Do it yourself.”) I was a devoted fan of Ellen’s theater, and I spend time as a playwright in her artist’s residency in Spoleto, Italy. La MaMa E.T.C. is the center of my world. Still, I always made a point of placing a story about Ellen in every publication that I have worked for. And I did the so soon after I joined American Theatre magazine, where this interview first appeared under the “20 Questions” department in April 2003. Imagine both our surprise when in June of that year Ellen won a 2003 TCG Theatre Practitioner Award at Theatre Communication Group’s National Conference in Milwaukee. —GENER ELLEN STEWART, the legendary founder and director of the La MaMa E.T.C.—the theatre that began in October 1961, and to this day continues to be of great importance to world culture—died 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 13, 2011 at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan. Stewart died of natural causes after an extended illness, according to Mia Yoo, co-artistic director of La MaMa, E.T. C. (Experimental Theatre Club). Born November 7, 1919 in Chicago, Stewart …
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