Jul 10, 2023
Aug 8, 2023

La MaMa Umbria 2023 International Symposium for Directors

24th Annual La MaMa Umbria International Symposium for Directors

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During the two two-week sessions, directors will take workshops with distinguished, internationally renowned directors, visit Spoleto and other Umbrian cultural sites. Accommodation, meals, and local transport are included in the fee.

2023 Master Artists (Session 1) include Dmitry Krymov (How to Make Interesting the Theatre That You Want), Thomas Ostermeier (acting and reacting - entering the unknown), Iman Aoun (Dig Deep, Reach Wide - A Theatre of the Oppressed Workshop), and Ong Keng Sen (Unhappy Archives: Building Performance around Decoloniality).

2023 Master Artists (Session 2) include Hana Sharif (Engaging Community in Performance Creation), Torange Yeghiazarian (Staging Poetry), Shahid Nadeem (Politically and Socially Engaging Theatre), and Virlana Tkacz (Ukraine: Art and Cultural History as Inspiration for Theatre Today).

For details of the Workshops being offered and bios of the Master Artists, please click on the Credits tab above.


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.


Many of our international artists cannot afford to make the trip to Umbria. On our 23rd 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 Symposium and Retreat FAQ

How is it decided who will be accepted into the Programs?

The applications are considered on the basis of the responses to the questions on the Application Form: why is this Program appropriate for you and what do you hope to get out of it? Once the Application has been vetted, and approved, the participants will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis. If the Program is filled up, there is a Waiting List you can join.

How does the Waiting List work?

If a Program fills up, we will let you know and put you on the Wait List. If someone drops out, we will go to the next person on the List and offer them that spot. This could happen any time up to a week prior to the start of the Program. If you decide not to wait, please let us know and we will remove your name from the List. 

How do I apply for a Scholarship?

Write an email to ddjdstar@gmail.com requesting a scholarship. Let us know which program you are interested in. Most scholarships cover part of the fees. Please explain why you need the assistance and the minimum you would need to make your participation possible. 

Should I wait until I have been accepted prior to sending in my deposit?

You can wait until you receive an Acceptance letter.

What is the Application deadline for the Playwright and Directing programs?

The deadline is May 15th, but the Programs could fill up prior to that date. Please check with us to see if there is still space. We will have a waiting list for those who wish to wait to see if someone who applied decides not to attend. If you pay the Deposit by May 15th and we are not yet full, we will hold your spot.

If I pay the Deposit and find that I cannot attend, willI get a refund?

You will get a full refund if you cancel by May 15th, except for the credit card fee.

When is the Full Payment due?

Full payment is due by June 1st.

If I pay the Full Payment and then I find I cannot come, will I get a Refund?

You will get a Full Refund (except for Credit Card charges) if we have a Waiting List and we can find someone to take your spot. If not, you will get a 50% Refund if you let us know by June 15th. After June 15th, there are no Refunds.

Is there a way to pay where I won’t incur Credit Card charges?

Yes, you can pay by check, made out to La MaMa ETC and mailed to: La MaMa ETC,Umbria Programs, 66 East Fourth Street, New York, NY 10003, USA. There are no additional fees.

Umbria 2023 International Playwright Retreat
August 10 – 20, 2023

Next Generation: New Performance Incubator
August 20 – September 3, 2023

La MaMa Umbria International Symposium for Directors – Master Artists 2023

How to Make Interesting the Theatre That You Want 

We will discuss what an image is, what expressiveness is, and we will try to understand our own desires. Using scenes from Chekhov and Shakespeare, directors will use this understanding to stage the scenes and investigate the process.

Born in 1954, Dmitry Krymov (Russia) has directed and designed various productions in Moscow which have established him as one of the most original directorial voices of his generation. Krymov and his 'laboratory' present visually stunning, symbolic productions where every moment is original, hugely inventive and surprising. In Moscow, his performances are packed full of audience members hugely anticipating his next vision, waiting to be surprised and entertained. Having designed over a hundred productions in Moscow throughout the '80s and '90s, Krymov fuses art, prose, poetry and popular culture to reimagine, with the help of his company, famous stories through a world of expressive and striking design. In his productions, the design goes on a journey in the same way that the characters do. Set changes, buildings are created and images transformed. The actors often work with scene and props in the performance and construct objects before the audiences's eyes.

Dmitry Krymov's participation in La MaMa Umbria 2023 International Symposium is supported in part by the Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation.

Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

acting and reacting -entering the unknown

In his workshop, Thomas Ostermeier will work on exercises and methods that directors can use to help actors find greater freedom in their acting by reacting directly to their partner's actions. The aim should be to act in the moment of the concrete situation, without preconceiving one's own play.

Thomas Ostermeier (Germany) is the artistic director of Berlin’s Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz. He has been instrumental in establishing the Schaubühne as one of Europe’s leading venues for contemporary theater.

Thomas Ostermeier was born in 1968 in Soltau. Since September 1999 Ostermeier is resident director and member of the Artistic Direction of the Schaubühne. He has also directed several productions at the Münchner Kammerspiele: At the Edinburgh Festival: Burgtheater in Vienna, at the Comédie-Française Paris where he was appointed »artiste associé« for the Festival d’Avignon and has been presenting shows at the Festival regularly since then.

He is the recipient of many awards including: »Nestroy Prize«, »Politika Prize«, the audience award of the Theatergemeinde Berlin, Grand Prix de la Critique of France, Premio della Critica Teatrale, Barcelona Critics Prize, Friedrich-Luft-Prize and many others. In 2009 Thomas Ostermeier was appointed »Officier des Arts et des Lettres« by the French ministry of culture, and promoted to the degree of »Commandeur«. Thomas Ostermeier was the German president of the Deutsch-Französischer Kulturrat (DKFR), German-French Council of Culture. In 2011 Thomas Ostermeier received the Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale for the entirety of his work.

Dig Deep, Reach Wide - A Theatre of the Oppressed Workshop

An internationally recognized theatre trainer, Iman Aoun specializes in the Theatre of the Oppressed techniques. She will share her methodology with the directors.

Iman Aoun (Palestine), is a director, actor, and dramaturg, she has an extensive record on stage, on screen, and behind the scenes.She was a member of the world-renowned El-Hakawati theatre, from Jerusalem, in the 1980s. In 1991 Iman co-founded ASHTAR for Theatre Productions and Training in Jerusalem and has been instrumental in directing and devising several productions for the company. An internationally recognized theatre trainer who specializes in the Theatre of the Oppressed techniques, Iman is also initiator of the project 100 artists for Palestine in 2003. In 2010, Iman developed The Gaza Mono-Logues, a documentary theatre performance based on the personal stories of a group of children. She was the initiator of the international call "The Syrian Monologues" based on the stories of Syrian Refugees 2015-2016. She has been coordinating the “One Billion Rising” in Palestine between 2014 –2016, a global call to end violence against women and girls initiated by V-Day. Iman continues to lead ASHTAR theatre and work regularly in difficult social and political contexts. She is a board member of the Palestinian Performing Arts Network and other Palestinian Art Organizations.

Unhappy Archives: Building Performance around Decoloniality

Ong Keng Sen (Singapore), The Artistic Director of TheatreWorks Singapore, he has engaged in intense cross-cultural work with fellow Asian artists for six years. He is known for his rejection of authenticity and his embracing of multiple realities and hybridity within Asia. His focus will be his process called Unhappy Archives, building on discourse around performance, agency, and decoloniality.

Ong Keng Sen has been the Artistic Director of Singapore’s TheatreWorks since 1988. He was the founding director of the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) from 2014 to 2017. He founded the international Curator Academy, hosted by the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin. His productions have been seen in major theatres around the world, the latest being Trojan Women which recently played at BAM Next Wave Festival in New York. He was the Artistic Director of the Amsterdam-based Prince Claus Funds’ digital 25-hour Festival to commemorate its 25 years of existence. His seminal work was the nomadic artist residency, The Flying Circus Project, traveling international artists through Asia, sharing their contexts amongst themselves and young people in the local sites.

In 2022, Ong was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Arts London and was the Valeska Gert Guest Professor at Freie UniversityBerlin. He has been sharing his knowledge with graduate students at Institute of Applied Theatre Arts in University of Giessen, the Norwegian Theatre Academy in Oslo, University of Salzburg, and will soon be Visiting Fellow at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Sydney. He holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University.


Engaging Community in Performance Creation

Hana Sharif (USA), The Artistic Director of Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, she has worked as an artistic leader, director, playwright, and producer. Her participatory process will focus on the questions: “How do we create art that allows us to look in some very challenging ways at ourselves and the world around us?  How do we use art to allow our surrounding communities to use those tools to tell their own stories and amplify their own voices?”

Hana Sharif is Artistic Director of Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. She has enjoyed a multi-faceted theatre career, including roles as an artistic leader, director, playwright and producer with a specialty in strategic and cross-functional leadership. She was the architect of the innovative CS Digital program: a platform that pushes the boundaries of traditional theatre and looks at the nexus point between art and technology. She prototyped a Mobile Unit, strengthening community engagement, producing multiple world and regional premieres. Hana launched the new play development program, expanded the community engagement and civic discourse initiatives, and developed and produced Tony, Grammy, Pulitzer and Obie Award-winning shows. She is the recipient of the 2009–10 Aetna New Voices Fellowship, EMC Arts Working Open Fellowship, Theatre Communications Group (TCG) New Generations Fellowship, and is a founding member of The Black Theatre Commons (BTC). She serves on the board of directors for the TCG, BTC, and the Sprott Foundation.

Staging Poetry

In this workshop, participants will experiment with poetry as dramatic text. We will focus on Persian poetry, from the classics by Ferdowsi and Nizami, to contemporary poetry of Forough Farrokhzad and Simin Behbehani. We will dabble in traditionalIranian performance styles including Naghali and Ta’zieh, as foundational tools to incorporate into our process.

Torange Yeghiazarian (Iran/USA) is a playwright, director, and translator. She has translated works by leading contemporary Iranian playwrights, and has directed, devised, and collaborated on numerous plays including original short plays for young audiences. Her articles have been published in many important journals and magazines. Torange is the Founding Artistic Director Emeritus of Golden Thread Productions, the first American theatre company devoted to the Middle East. She is a founding member of Middle Eastern North African Theatre Makers Alliance, the first national organization advocating for MENA theatre artists. Torange has been recognized by Theatre Bay Area and is one of Theatre Communication Group’s Legacy Leaders of Color. She was honored by the Cairo International Theatre Festival and the Symposium on Equity in the Entertainment Industry at Stanford University. Born in Iran and of Armenian heritage, Torange is a Fulbright Specialist and currently works as a freelance artist, writer, and consultant. TorangeYeghiazarian.com

Politically and Socially Engaging Theatre

I have been a student leader, a trade unionist, journalist, a prisoner of conscience, a human rights activist, and my experience in these capacities has been very valuable in my work as socially and politically engaged theatre practitioner. At the La MaMa Umbria Director’s Workshop, I plan to share my four decades of experience as a playwright and director, working in a Muslim country plagued with religious intolerance, poverty, conflict and war. I will trace the genesis of Ajoka Theatre in 1980s during a despotic Martial Law and how it has enriched its work with the use of ancient folk theatre and Indo-Islamic heritage. I will also elaborate on my ideas of role of theatre in a Muslim society, which I presented in my World Theatre Day Message in 2020 and the keynote address at the ITI International Theatre Congress 2023 in Fujairah.

I plan to divide the workshop in three sections: (i) Facing challenges of censorship in times of despotic regimes and violent extremism, (ii) Socially meaningful theatre and Muslim cultural practices, and (iii) Promoting peace with hostile rival India through theatre. I will share stories of development of some of my well-known plays, with the help of video extracts/photographs, to elaborate my points and then work with the workshop participants to explore these ideas.

Shahid Nadeem (Pakistan), Artistic Director of Ajoka Theatre in Lahore, Pakistan, he is a renowned theatre and television director and playwright. Shahid Nadeem’s plays are well-regarded for their bold socially relevant, sometimes tabooed subjects such as religious extremism, violence against women, discrimination against minorities, freedom of expression, climate, peace and Sufism. He will share his approach to political and socially-engaged theatre creation.

Shahid Nadeem (Pakistan) is an eminent Pakistani playwright and director. He is Executive Director of Pakistan’s leading theatre group, Ajoka Theatre. Shahid was born in Sopore, Kashmir. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Pakistan National Council of the Arts. He was a Professor of Film and Television at the Institute for Art and Culture, Lahore. Shahid was Getty Research Institute’s International Scholar/International Pen’s Visiting International Writer in Los Angeles. He was also Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington. He was invited by the International Theatre Institute to deliver the World Theatre Day address in 2020, which was translated in 60 languages and distributed in 90 countries. He was the keynote speaker at the 36th International Theatre Congress of ITI, held in Fujairah, UAE in February 2023. He has conducted several theatre workshops, writing courses and read papers at international gatherings and lectured at several U.S. Universities including UCLA, UC Irvine, USC, UC Berkley, Brandeis University and Penn State University. He received Masood Khaddarposh Award,Nigar, Graduate, Mussawar and PTV Silver Jubilee awards. He was conferred President of Pakistan’s Award for Pride of Performance (Arts).

Ukraine: Art and Cultural History as Inspiration for Theatre Today

Participants will experience how Virlana creates theatre pieces that explore masterful moments of overlooked art and culture. The pieces fuse fragments of contemporary poetry and traditional songs, chants, legends and history to create experimental imagistic productions.

Virlana Tkacz (USA) is a theatre director, poet and translator, and founding director of Yara Arts Group, a resident company at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York. With Yara, she has created 23 original theatre pieces since 1990. The pieces fuse fragments of contemporary poetry and traditional songs, chants, legends and history from East to create experimental imagistic productions.

Translation is an essential part of Yara’s creative process. Since 1989, Virlana has worked with African-American poet Wanda Phipps on translations of contemporary Ukrainian poetry and traditional material. Together they have received the Agni Poetry Translation Prize, nine New York State Translation Grants, and The National Theatre Translation Fund Award. Their collected translations were published in 2008 as In a Different Light: A Bilingual Anthology of Ukrainian Literature. In 2005 Virlana was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Translation Fellowship for her work with the poetry of Serhiy Zhadan. Her collaborative translations with Buryat and Kyrgyz poets have also been the source texs for a number of her production and were awarded prizes such as the Witter Bynner Poetry Translation Award.

Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, Virlana was educated at Bennington College and Columbia University School of the Arts. Virlana was a Senior Fulbright Lecturer at the Theatre Institutes both in Kyiv and in Bishkek. For eleven years, she conducted theatre workshops for Harvard Summer Institute. Together with Irena Makaryk, she put together the monumental Modernism in Kyiv, published by University of Toronto Press (2010).

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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