Tony winner André De Shields is emceeing a reopening event at Off-Off-Broadway's La MaMa February 9 at 11 AM, which serves as the debut of its newly refurbished space. Free and open to the public, the event will include a ribbon cutting and tour of the space.
The reopening is a homecoming for De Shields, who launched his career at the landmark experimental theatre in the '70s and '80s. Also scheduled to attend are representatives from New York City and New York State governments who were instrumental in getting funding for the $24 million project, with guest speakers including DCLA Commissioner Laurie Cumbo, City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, and State Senator Brad Hoylman.
The building's renovation has been a long project, partially taken over the finishing line by a recent $250,000 matching grant from La MaMa alum Harvey Fierstein. The new building includes expanded ADA accessibility, acoustically separated spaces, and a building-wide digital network. The first floor theatre has been eliminated, while a Community Space has been added, bringing the venue's stages to four.
The space's first production will be The Hip Hopera of 5P1n0k10 by Tarish Pipkins (aka Jeghetto), scheduled to run February 16–19. Described as an "Afrofuturist parable about a robot that longs to be a real boy," the piece features marionettes and an original score by Jeghetto.
La MaMa was founded in 1961 by Ellen Stewart, who had run the company to serve the community as a platform for marginalized voices until her death in 2011. Stewart's mission remains the driving force of La MaMa.
The refurbishments were led by architects Beyer, Blinder, and Belle Architects and Planners, LLP, with Charcoalblue serving as technical theatre and acoustical consultant. Studio JG Lecat was theatre consultant, with Yorke Construction Corp managing construction. Parente Development, LLC served as project manager.