Jul 17, 2019
Aug 16, 2019

La MaMa Umbria: 2019 International Symposium for Directors

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For the 20th year of the Directors’ Symposium, July 17 – August 16, 2019, La MaMa Umbria is offering unique opportunities to learn from the world’s finest directors, designers and theatre-makers. Please join us. Keep an eye on this page for continuing updates on visiting artists, workshops and other events.

Support for East African Directors’ attendance was provided, in part, by Sundance Institute Theatre Program’s Post-Lab Support Funds

Session One: July 17 – July 31, 2019:

Anne Bogart (USA)

Akiko Aizawa (USA)

Annie-B Parson (USA)

Maya Zbib (Lebanon)

Session Two: August 2 – August 16, 2019:

Jean Guy Lecat (France)

Andrei Serban (Romania)

Liesl Tommy (South Africa/USA)

Basil Twist (USA)


July 17 - July 31, 2019

Viewpoints on Viewpoints by Anne Bogart & Akiko Aizawa

In preparation for Anne’s new book Viewpoints on Viewpoints, Bogart and Aizawa will focus on new and traditional methods of working with the Viewpoints when approaching a text.  Beginning with an introduction to the Viewpoints as both directors work with them, the workshop will then explore the application of the Viewpoints in relation to a chosen text. The work will invite participants to discover new methods for mining material, collaborating spontaneously and intuitively, and generating bold, theatrical work.

Headshot of Anna Bogart

Anne Bogart is a Co-Artistic Director of the ensemble-based SITI Company, head of the MFA Directing program at Columbia University, and author of five books:  A Director Prepares, The Viewpoints Book, And Then You Act, Conversations with Anne and What’s the Story.  With SITI, Bogart has directed more than 30 works in venues around the world, including The Bacchae, Chess Match No. 5, Steel Hammer, The Theater is a Blank Page, Persians, A Rite, Café Variations, Radio Macbeth, American Document, bobrauschenbergamerica and Hotel Cassiopeia.  Recent opera works include Handel’s Alcina, Dvorak’s Dimitrij, Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars, Verdi’s Macbeth, Bellini’s Norma and Bizet’s Carmen. Her many awards and fellowships include three honorary doctorates (Cornish School of the Arts, Bard College and Skidmore College), A Duke Artist Fellowship, A United States Artists Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller/Bellagio Fellowship and a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency Fellowship.

headshot of Akiko Aizawa

Akiko Aizawa joined The SITI company in 1997 and has appeared in 25 shows including; The Bacchae (BAM), Steel Hammer (music by Julia Wolfe), A Rite (with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company), American Document (with Martha Graham Dance Company), the theater is a blank page (with Ann Hamilton), Trojan Women(Getty Villa), bobrauschenbergamerica (American Repertory Theatre), Radio Macbeth (Public Theater) and Culture of Desire (NYTW), all directed by Anne Bogart; Hanjo (Japan Society) directed by Leon Ingulsrud. Other credits; Suicide Forest (dir. Aya Ogawa), Sleep (dir. Rachel Dickstein); The Trojan Women, Three Sisters andDionysus (as a member of Suzuki Company of Toga, dir. Tadashi Suzuki). She is one of SITI’s core faculty members leading Suzuki Method of Actor Training and Viewpoints training for 22 years. Akiko is originally from Akita, Japan.

How Political Is The Personal? A Practical Experimentation On Devising, Dramaturgy And Collective Creation by Maya Zbib

Maya will share some of the processes of collectively devising theatre within Zoukak, a theatre company she co-founded in 2006. She will propose tools of creating content, building narratives and instigating actions by a layering of personal stories, mythology and political events; making use of iconography and cliché. She will introduce her method of directing that is deeply connected to writing for the stage and dramaturgy.

headshot of Maya Zbib

Maya Zbib is a theatre director, performer, writer and founding member of Zoukak Theatre Company. She studied theatre at the Institute of Fine Arts, the Lebanese University (2003) and pursued her MA in Performance Making at Goldsmiths, University of London (2007). In 2011 she obtained a postgraduate degree in International Cultural Cooperation and Management from IL3, the University of Barcelona. Her work including The Music Box and Silk Thread has been shown at international festivals and venues in the Middle East, Europe, the United States, South America, Africa and South Asia (Williams College, MUCEM museum, New York Public Library, Queen Mary University, MASSMoCA, Southbank Center…).

Since 2008, Maya leads psychosocial interventions with Zoukak in marginalized contexts in different Lebanese regions. She facilitates collaborations, artistic residencies and events with international artists in the company’s studio where she co-curates since 2013 Zoukak Sidewalks, an international performance platform. She has given talks and workshops and taught at universities and in non-academic contexts, in the Middle East, Europe, the United States and Africa. Zbib is a Chevening/KRSF Alumni (2007), a Cultural Leadership International Alumni (2010), a fellowship recipient of ISPA, New York (2010), was selected as the protégé of Peter Sellars, American theatre, opera and festival director, as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative (2011), and she’s a finalist nominee in the Gilder/Coigner International Theatre Award, New York (2014).

Direction as Choreography by Annie-B Parson

This workshop looks at a formal approach to creating movement phrases and movement events; students will work with ideas that include: pure movement, dynamics, the borrowing of theatrical devices, the use of found text and appropriation of historical materials. Students will be hyper-generative, making piles of movement phrases and theatrical events over the course of five days including such trademarks of postmodernism as appropriation, rubric driven structures, and blending the boundaries of what is generally proscribed as theater and dance.

Headshot of Annie-B Parson

Annie-B Parson co-founded Big Dance Theater in 1991. She has choreographed and co-created over 20 works for the company, ranging from pure dance pieces, to adaptations of found text, plays, and literature, to original works combining wildly disparate materials. Her work with Big Dance has been commissioned by Les Subsistances in Lyon, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The National Theater of Paris/Chaillot, The Japan Society, The Walker Art Center, and many others.

Outside of Big Dance, Ms. Parson has created choreography for operas, pop stars, television, movies, theater, ballet and symphonies. Her awards include the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award (2014), an Olivier Award nomination in choreography (2015), Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award (2014), USA Artists Grant in theater (2012), Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography (2007), two BESSIE awards (2010, 2002), and three NYFA Choreography Fellowships (2013, 2006 and 2000). BDT received an OBIE (2000) and the first Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award (2007). Parson has been nominated for the CalArts/Alpert Award seven times and has received three Lucille Lortel nominations (2014, 2012, 2011). She was a YCC choreographer at The American Dance Festival.

Since 1993 Parson has been an instructor of choreography at New York University’s Experimental Theater Wing. She was featured in BOMB magazine, and has written articles for Ballet Review, Movement Research Journal, and drawing for The Brooklyn Rail, as well as a piece for Dance USA on the state of dance/theater in the U.S. and given a talk on the use of Poetic Forms in adapting text at the Poetry Center. As an artist curator, she has curated shows including: Merce Cunningham’s memorial We Give Ourselves Away at Every Moment, Dancer Crush at NYLA and Sourcing Stravinsky at DTW. Parson tours a lecture on abstraction called The Virtuosity of Structure to universities and for audience development. Her recent book, Dance by Letter, is published by 53rd State Press.


August 2 - August 16, 2019

Rediscovering Shakespeare by Andrei Serban

headshot of Andrei Serban

We need to rediscover again for every generation the old values contained in Shakespeare, and experimentally create a shock that opens us to the unknown and makes us feel stronger. As Peter Brook suggests “ a tiny group in a tiny space can create something unforgettable; a vibrant energy. This world, limited in time and space, can be changed and sometimes so unforgettably that is can change an individual’s life”. So let’s search together to find our own Shakespeare.

Andrei Serban studied at the Theatre Institute in Romania. Invited by Ellen Stewart to La MaMa Experimental Theatre Center, he directed Arden of Faversham, Ubu,Fragments of a Greek Trilogy, which won several Obie and international Awards and has been performed at more than twenty international festivals. He worked with Peter Brook at Brook’s International Theatre Institute in both Paris and Persepolis. At New York’s Lincoln Center he directed Aeschylus’Agamemnon and Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, the latter of which won a Tony Award for Best Revival. He has directed at the Public Theatre, Yale Repertory, the Guthrie, Circle in the Square, and Delacorte, San Francisco’s A.C.T., the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, at the Royal National Theatre in London, Shiki Company in Tokyo, Schauspielhaus Bochum, the Comedie Francaise in Paris, and National Theatre of Korea, Seoul, among many others. He acted as general director of the Romanian National Theatre and has staged opera productions all over the world from the San Francisco Opera to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Opera de Paris, Grand Theatre de Geneve, Zurich Opera, or the Vienna Opera. He made his debut at  the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 2004 with Benvenuto Cellini and returned in 2005 with FAUST. Among his many recent productions: Andrei Serban’s Different Chunhyang, at the National Theatre of Korea, Seoul; G.B. Shaw’s Arms And The Man (Chocolate Soldier – Russian title) at the Malyi Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia; Carousel, an original adaptation after Molnar’s Liliom at the Bulandra Theater; Lehar’s operetta The Merry Widow; Don Giovanni by Mozart at the National Opera Bucharest, Romania; Richard III by Shakespeare at Radnoti Theater in Budapest, Hungary; MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING by Shakespeare; THE SEAGULL by Chekhov, etc.

His awards include the highest Romanian national order – the „Romanian  Star”-, as well as the „Life Achievement Award”, the Eliott Norton Award in Boston, the George Abbott Award in New York, the Robert Brustein Award (2009), New England Theatre Conference MAJOR AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN THE AMERICAN THEATRE (2010). He has taught at schools worldwide, including the Yale School of Drama, Harvard University, Le Conservatoire de Paris, University of California (San Diego), and the Pittsburgh Carneggie Melon.

Professor & Director, Oscar Hammerstein II Center for Theatre Studies, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY in New York from 1992 to 2018. A book about his involvement in the American Theatre, The Magic World Behind the Curtain, by Ed Menta, was published. In Romania, Polirom Publishing House published his autobiography, “O Biografie” in 2006,  which was translated in Hungarian in 2010, and in 2012 its Romanian language 4th edition was printed, by popular demand. A photographic retrospective of Serban’s theatre and opera career, „My Journeys”, was published in 2008. A photography book by Mihaela Marin with texts by Andrei Serban, in Romanian and English, was published by Romanian Cultural Institute in 2012: “CHEKHOV,  SHAKESPEARE,  BERGMAN SEEN BY ANDREI SERBAN”; “OPERA DIRECTING – THOUGHTS AND IMAGE” – a photography album of his most recent opera productions (photo by Mihaela Marin, text by Andrei Serban), NEMIRA PUBLISHING HOUSE, Bucharest, Romania. Recipient of several Doctor Honoris Causa titles.

The Art of Curiosity by Liesl Tommy

A rigorous exploration of the director’s process, from the page to the stage. Looking at process through both new works and reframing classics, exercises will be structured around the questions: How deep is the artist going? How dangerous is their work every step of the way?

Liesl Tommy is a Tony-nominated (ECLIPSED) and Obie/Lortel award-winning director. She’s currently developing THE OUTSIDERS, a musical based on the novel by S. E. Hinton. Recent off-Broadway credits include: Public Theater: Eclipsed, Party People, The Good Negro; Signature Theatre: Appropriate (Obie Award) MCC Theater: Relevance and Vineyard Theatre: Kid Victory. Feature films in the works: RESPECT, about the life of Icon Aretha Franklin (at MGM), and BORN A CRIME based on Trevor Noah’s autobiography. Television directing credits include: Queen Sugar (OWN), Insecure (HBO), The Walking Dead (AMC), Mrs. Fletcher (HBO) and more. Liesl is a Program Associate at The Sundance Institute. She is a proud native of Cape Town, South Africa.

Challenging the Idea of What Puppets Can Do by Basil Twist

headshot of Basil Twist

The workshop focuses on the dramatic and dramaturgical importance of the background, whether visual or acoustic, on which the actors play. The tools for the study will be literature, images of figurative art, music, and film that lead to practical exercises in writing, design, and mimic action.

Basil Twist is a designer, director, performer, puppeteer and the sole American to graduate
from the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts dela Marionnette in France. Select Broadway design outings, he created and staged the puppetry in The Addams Family & Charlie and The Chocolate Factory for which both he won a Drama Desk Award. He was honored with a 2015 MacArthur Fellowship. He guides The Dream Music Puppetry Program at HERE and he is completing a year-long residency at the American Academy in Rome.

Harmony in Theatre Space by Jean-Guy Lecat

headshot of Jean-Guy Lecat

Harmony in theatre space is difficult; there is duality between to turn to fast to technology which is a temptation and the sensation that we are missing something essential. Nothing should be there without a reason.

The idea of this workshop is to discover that telling it not only a question of words. Human been, costumes, set, lighting, video, sound and walls to have their part to play. We have to take away those things that create distance; in simplicity anything it’s an importance, than we can see with more intensity things that otherwise cannot be seen. In workshop I suggest the surrounding in which the plays of each group will take place will be at the same time the set and the auditorium, following the Elizabethan idea to have only one space with the play right in middle of the social life, receiving all contradictory energies.

Jean-Guy Lecat’s workshops don’t have a real pedagogical message, but he wants to open the ears and eyes of the participants. He wants to show and teach them things, not tell how they are supposed to be.

To work together, to hear each other, to help the others in a group to stepping over certain thresholds, don’t remain motionless so that you escape, or not to use techniques that could be used to mask this fact that we have nothing to say is another aspect of this workshop.

In 1965, after having been a fitter model maker, then draughtsman, in Thomson-Houston’s factories, J.G. Lecat completed 6 months of training at the Television Studios Les Buttes Chaumont. In 1966, he left the factory and became stage manager in Festival du Marais and in Théâtre du Vieux Colombier. He met Claude Perset, set designer and theatre-architect and became his assistant; they drew several set, theatres and festival’s spaces, amongst them the famous Théâtre d’Orsay (Théâtre du Rond Point today).

From this date he practiced at same time, every technical and artistic job in theatre including being an actor. He took part in more than 100 productions for many directors as : J. L. Barrault, R. Blin, J. M. Serreau (Opening Cartoucherie de Vincennes), Living Theatre, La MaMa ETC…He also works with several other architects, from the beginning of his theatre carrier as he always keeps at same time a foot on architecture and the other one on theatre stage.

From 1976 to 2000 technical director and set/space designer for Peter Brook Jean-Guy Lecat was charged by particularly with research, the transformation or creation of more than 200 spaces throughout the world. Some of them are still kept as:Harvey-Majestic Theatre and La MaMa in New York, The tramway in Glasgow, The Gaswaerk in Copenhagen, The Mercat de les Flore in Barcelona, Boulbon quarry in Avignon, Nationnal Theatre in Strasburg, Bockenhaimer depot in Frankfurt etc…

A book that tells his work with P. Brook around the world is published:“The Open Circle” A. Todd J.G. Lecat Faber and Faber London, Palgrave Macmillan Ltd. New York. “El Circulo Abierto”Alba editorial, s.l.u. Barcelona. He left Peter Brook Company in 2000. From that time he has served as Theatre-Consulant on dozens of projects involving transformation and building of theatre spaces in addition to work as a Set, Lighting and Costume Designer and Director around the world.


A training program for professional directors, choreographers, actors and others. Internationally renowned theatre artists conduct workshops and lecture/demonstrations. During the Symposium, participants will travel to Umbrian towns such as Orvieto, Perugia  or Assisi to get a taste of Umbrian art and culture. Performances at local arts festivals and community fairs are also included.  In addition, participating directors may conduct their own workshops to share insights and techniques with their colleagues.

Participants will be exposed to a variety of theatrical perspectives during the Symposium, from instructors who will expand their sense of what is possible in the theatre. Directors attending the Symposium see how prominent artists on the international scene create their unique productions. The workshops are participatory, and it is expected that all attendees will engage actively in the processes of the various teaching artists.  


EXCURSIONS: While most of the time will be spent in workshops at La MaMa Umbria, at least one day has been set aside for excursions to nearby cities. We will attend at least one performance event at a local arts festival. There may also be opportunities to see additional performances on an ad hoc basis. The group will visit nearby towns such as Perugia, Umbria’s capital, Deruta, famous for ceramics painted by hand or Assisi, to see the famous Cathedral of St. Francis, Orvieto, etc. In addition, we will share an Italian tradition, a sagra, or community celebration of the specialties produced by small Umbrian villages (such as truffles, olive oil and wine.)

EXTRA WORKSHOPS: In addition to our internationally renowned guest teaching artists, there will be an opportunity for you and your colleagues to share exercises and techniques with each other in late night sessions. You may propose a special workshop to offer in one of the late (after dinner) sessions. Use the space on the registration form to describe what you would share. Not all proposals will be accepted based on time and space availability.

CREDIT: The La MaMa International Symposium is accredited through Sarah Lawrence College. While the Symposium is geared for working professionals, some slots may be filled by university students, who may get credit (2 credits for one session of the Symposium and 1 credit for the Retreat) for their participation through an arrangement with Sarah Lawrence College. For more information, please contact La MaMa at (212) 254-6468.

APPLICATION & FEE: Space is limited. Please fill out the Online Registration Form. Registrants will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, provided they are accepted into the Program. Registrants must fill out the Registration Form and forward a recent resume. The fee is US$ 2,800. Space is secured with a deposit of $1,000 due with the registration form by May 15, 2019. $100 of the deposit is a non-refundable processing fee (unless the Symposium is already full when we receive your registration.)


Many of our international artists cannot afford to make the trip to Umbria. On our 20th anniversary, we are offering scholarships to disadvantaged artists from countries that have had little to no representation in our residency programs. It costs approximately $5,000 for the entire trip, which includes admission fee, accommodation, meals, workshops, and international travel for one participant. All donations will help us achieve this goal.

La MaMa Umbria International


La MaMa Umbria International provides artists from around the world with residency programs and intensive workshops. For over 25, La MaMa Umbria has fostered cross-cultural and international exchanges and creative collaborations. Hundreds of artists have found Umbria to be a space that is beautiful, spiritually enriching, welcoming, and open to bold artistic experiments.

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