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Julie Taymor, Patti Smith, the Blue Men Take Part in La Mama's New Season

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The Off Off Broadway theater group La Mama Experimental Theater Club, established by the late Ellen Stewart, announced its 50th anniversary season, "Homecomings," on Monday. The season, its first without Stewart, will include performances by some 20 artists who regard the theater club as home, along with a new program called Monday Nights at La Mama, which will bring guest in conversation with Tan Dun, Philip Glass, Julie Taymor, Elizabeth Swados, Meredith Monk and others.

"Homecomings" kicks off on October 16 with the La Mama World Block Party, which will feature performances by the Blue Men Group, the Silver Cloud Native American Drummers and Singers, the Pua Ali'l 'Ililma o Nuioka hula Dancers (Royal 'Ilima Blossom, the School of Traditional Hawaiian Dance), and the Balkan gypsy punk rock band Bad Buka. At the end of the party, city officials will name the block "Ellen Stewart Way" in memory of Stewart, who died this past January.

The block party will continue on October 17, with dinner, dancing, and performances by Patti Smith, Bill Irwin, and a play written by Harvey Fierstein specially for the occasion.

Here's a short list of some of the artists who will be performing during the rest of the season:

  • Ping Chong, a world-recognized theater director who is also a seminal figure in Asian-American theater and arts movement.
  • Meredith Monk, a MacArthor Fellowship winning composer.
  • The Talking Band, an experimental theater group founded by Ellen Maddow, Tina Shepherd, and Paul Zimet.
  • Scott Wittman, one of the authors of the musical Hairspray, which won a Drama Desk Award, Tony Award and Grammy Award.
  • Tan Dun, a Academy Award-winning Chinese composer, who has created scores for the movies Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero.
  • Dario D'Ambrosi, director of A Crazy Sound, and the founder of the Pathological Theater (Teatro Patologico) movement.
  • Elizabeth Swados, author of Runaways and winner of an Obie Award for direction.
  • Karen Finley, an Obie Award- and Guggenheim Fellowship-winning performance artist.
  • Karin Coonrod, the founding director of Off-Broadway's Arden Party Theater Company.
  • Jomama Jones, the soul singer behind the concert and happening "Radiate."
  • Great Jones Repertory, the main performing company at La Mama.
  • Czechoslovak-American Marionette, a group directed by Vit Horejs that brings century-old antique marionettes to the stage.
  • Under the Radar Festival, a multicultural theater festival hosting independent and experimental productions from up-and-coming artists.