MacArthur Fellows Program

Ellen Stewart

Theater Director | Class of 1985

Theater Director
New York, New York
66 at time of award
January 13, 2011
Area of Focus
Theatrical Arts
Published July 1, 1985

About Ellen's Work

Ellen Stewart was the founder and artistic director of the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City.

Stewart helped advance the growth of the performing arts through extensive involvement in the international arts community, and launched the careers of many well-known artists.  She founded La MaMa in 1961, and under her direction, it presented more than 1,900 productions, including theater, dance, music, multimedia, and video works in a variety of settings, and hosted artists from more than seventy different countries.  Stewart also created a number of original works in a genre she calls folk-opera/spectacle, and staged them in the United States, Italy, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, Morocco, Israel, and Nigeria, among many other countries.  In addition to presenting La MaMa performances worldwide, she developed an artists’ residence in Spoleto, Italy, called La MaMa Umbria.


Stewart served on the boards of the U.S. Center of International Theatre Institute, the National Council for Culture and Art, and the Playwright’s Platform.

Stewart was a visiting professor of the Institute of Drama in South Korea and a longstanding member of the Seoul International Theater Institute.  

Last updated January 1, 2005.

Select News Coverage of Ellen Stewart
January 14, 2011
"Remembering Ellen Stewart, Giant of N.Y. Theater"
Ellen Stewart , 1985 MacArthur Fellow
January 13, 2011
"Ellen Stewart, Off Off Broadway Pioneer, Dies at 91"
The New York Times
Ellen Stewart , 1985 MacArthur Fellow
November 1, 2006
"Ellen Stewart: Still Pushing That Pushcart"
The Villager
Ellen Stewart , 1985 MacArthur Fellow
October 22, 2004
"Women in Theatre: Ellen Stewart"
Ellen Stewart , 1985 MacArthur Fellow
May 1, 2004
"Drama Queen: An Interview with Ellen Stewart"
Words Without Borders
Ellen Stewart , 1985 MacArthur Fellow
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