Judy Dworin
Leonardo Shapiro

Trinity/La MaMa was founded in 1986 by Judy Dworin, (co-founder of the Department of Theater and Dance at Trinity College), and Leonardo Shapiro (Artistic Director of the Shaliko Company and La MaMa Experimental Theater resident artist). Since 1983 they had taken students in the newly formed department to New York City for weekend-long excursions to expose them to the downtown performance scene. When students got to see ground-breaking new shows and meet with contemporary working artists, their understanding of the interdisciplinary nature and the scope of possibilities in the creation of art grew exponentially over even a short stay. Out of these early trips grew the idea of a semester-long program that immerses students in the nation’s most vibrant art scene, giving them the opportunity to interact directly with working artists, while also creating their own work. La MaMa ETC opened its doors to the newly envisioned program and in 1986 welcomed the first class of Trinity/La MaMa students, becoming the home base for this innovative and groundbreaking educational opportunity. There is no other program like it. Over the years the scope of the program has grown and has extended its to many other colleges across the country, while maintaining a strong curricular connection to the department in Hartford.

The core idea has remained at the heart of the program throughout its 34 year history – students being exposed to what is the most cutting-edge, interdisciplinary work of the moment, while experimenting in their creative work and finding their own artistic voices.

A Brief History of La MaMa ETC

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. Founded in 1961 by Ellen Stewart, La MaMa is recognized as the seedbed of new work by artists of all nations and cultures. To date, La MaMa has presented more than 150,000 artists from over 70 nations. Each season, we offer more than 80 productions and receive 34,000 visits from people of all ages and all backgrounds who attend performances, exhibitions, educational activities and the Archives. We support the people who make art, and it is to them that we give $2 million of in-kind support including free theatre and rehearsal space, and audio/visual package, tech support, marketing support, and ticketing services.

Ellen Stewart

Ellen Stewart founded La MaMa in 1961 in a tiny basement theatre at 321 East 9th Street so that her brother and his friends would have a place to create and perform their theatre works. Ellen dedicated La MaMa to the playwright and all aspects of the theatre. It was Ellen who welcomed artists who were underrepresented, underfunded, and often misunderstood, at a time when the perception of what theatre could be was changing rapidly. For artists such as Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Tom Eyen, Tom O’Horgan, and Philip Glass, La MaMa was their first artistic home. As Ellen toured internationally with her band of artists, she encountered the work of many world artists such as Tadeusz Kantor, Andrei Serban, Kazuo Ohno, The Tokyo Kid Brothers. She succeeded in bringing these artists to America to present their work at La MaMa. La MaMa has been and continues, even after Ellen Stewart’s death in 2011, to be the preeminent international portal for experimental theatre.

La MaMa’s mission is giving artists the time and space to refine their creative process as they make new work. Artists like Meredith Monk, Robert Wilson, Harvey Fierstein, Tan Dun, Joel Zwick, Mike Figgis, Jackie Curtis, Blue Man Group, John Kelly, David and Amy Sedaris -and others whose names you haven’t heard of yet – began at La MaMa. 

Today La MaMa is a world renowned cultural institution located in 4 buildings on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. La MaMa’s campus is home to four theatres, an art gallery, a six-story rehearsal studio building, a visiting artist dormitory, commercial and not for profit office spaces, and an extensive archive documenting the history of Off-Off Broadway.

Learn more about La MaMa here


Learn more about Trinity/La MaMa

66 Vernon Street
Hartford, CT 06106