May 9, 2023

Experiments from the Vault: Medea of the Laundromat

Written by H.M. Koutoukas
Directed by Arthur Adair
Jason Howard, Sally Lesser, John-Andrew Morrison, Jenne Vath, and Victoria Villier

a black arrow pointing downward


To celebrate 25 years of the EXPERIMENTS PLAY READING SERIES, five alumni of The EXPERIMENTALS, the performance group founded by La MaMa Resident Director George Ferencz, return to La MaMa for a reading of H.M. Koutoukas’ MEDEA OF THE LAUNDROMAT.

Tuesday May 9, 7:00pm
La MaMa 74A East 4th St. NY, NY 10003

The play premiered on October 13, 1965 at Café LaMaMa E.T.C., then at 122 2nd Ave, for a 5-night run before moving onto Café Cino & Theatre Genesis. The Village Voice - which awarded Koutoukas an Obie the next year “for the style and energy of his assaults on the theatre in both playwriting and production,” - called this version so “eccentric as to be nearly unthinkable. The play is an enactment of the final terrible scene when Medea murders her child to avenge herself on Jason….Medea is the very heroine of old–fanatical, hideous, wronged, ecstatically suffering. But the action is set in a laundromat.” The play returned to La MaMa in 2014, as part of the Experiments Play Reading Series: “From the Vault: A Celebration of Classic La MaMa Scripts.” The series, the brainchild of La MaMa Resident Director, George Ferencz, presented works from La MaMa’s earliest years—known as the “Pushcart Catalog.”

"Haralambos Monroe ‘Harry’ Koutoukas took a bus from his home in upstate New York to Greenwich Village just as the 1950s came to a close, in search of adventure. ‘When Koutoukas hit town, he was an Adonis, a Greek youth with abundant energy, personality, and natural wit. He was able to express himself in the vernacular of downtown—being free,’ said Agosto Machado, a Chinese-Spanish Christopher Street queen and Zelig-like figure who witnessed the rise of the underground theater and film movements, the 1960s counterculture, gay liberation, and punk rock. Even in the Village, which was bursting with theatrical flourishes, this Greek American cut a striking figure. Entering a coffeehouse, Koutoukas might come swooshing in the door with a large swath of fabric flowing behind him—all while holding a cigarette high, for dramatic effect. ‘It was sort of grand,” Machado said, ‘but it wasn’t a pretentious-grand. It was a fun-grand.” (Dominic, Maggie, Smith, Michael Townsend (Eds.). (2010). H. M. Koutoukas 1937-2010. Fast Books.)

Arthur Adair (Director) At La MaMa: Original works of Total Theatre: “Your War’try Grave”, “S-s-s-tone-d-d-D: An American Oration”, & “Sound of the Sun”; Staged adaptations: Eugene O’Neill’s “The Emperor Jones” & Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” (translation); Direction: “Balls” by Paul Foster (CultureHub) & “Chasing the New White Whale” by Mike Gorman. Membership: Stage Directors & Choreographers Society; Dramatist Guild of America; Actors’ Equity Association; Great Jones Repertory Company. Award-winning designer: Set (Innovative Theatre Award/NYC) & Light (B. Iden Payne/ATX). Past Technical Director & Educational Outreach Coordinator, Coffeehouse Chronicles. Associate Professor, Queensborough Community College/CUNY.

Jason Howard (Jason) is proud to be a member of The Experimentals. He is an actor, fight choreographer, writer, director, producer, coder, and driving enthusiast. He has performed with the Public Theater, NYTW, The Workshop Theater, Theater for the New City, La Mama, The Nerve Tank, ManhattanTheatreSource (founding member), the Ontological, EST, Circle Rep, the Ohio and Gideon Media. He has toured internationally doing puppetry with Drama of Works. Co-Adapted and directed “Love That Dog” with NYCity Children's Theater. Writing highlights: “Divine Providence”, “The Launch”, “The Monkey”. TV/Film highlights: “3rd Watch”, “Solar Vengeance”, “Soldier in the Shadows”, “Pandora Machine”. Podcasts: "Steal the Stars", "Saturn's Return."

Sally Lesser (Producer) active in New York theater and television for over 40 years as a costume designer, Sally’s first show at La MaMa was “The Birds” by Aristophanes, starring H.M. Koutoukas in 1979. Other notable credits include the original productions of “Little Shop of Horrors”, “Josephine the Short-necked Giraffe” for Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, and 20 years at “One Life to Live”, where she received 3 Daytime Emmy Awards. Married to La MaMa resident director George Ferencz, she collaborated with him on over 65 plays nationally & internationally.

John-Andrew Morrison (Medea) is an award-winning actor living and working in New York City. John-Andrew received a TONY Nomination, a Lucille Lortel Award and an OBIE Award for his work in the Pulitzer Prize winning musical A Strange Loop (Broadway and Off Broadway at Playwrights Horizons). He also was an Outer Critics Circle Honoree for his performance in The Off Broadway premiere of Blues for an Alabama Sky. John-Andrew got to collaborate and bring Boy Steals Train to The Edinburgh Festival where the show won The Fringe First Award and also The London Stage Award. John-Andrew spent many years working at La Mama with George Ferencz as a member of The Experimentals working on readings, workshops and productions of around 50 new plays. He also did several plays with The Classical Theater Of Harlem. Including the OBIE Award winning The Blacks - A Clown Show and Caligula with Andrè De Sheilds. John-Andrew's work has been seen internationally and regionally at theaters including The Hartford Stage, Baltimore Center Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, La Jolla Playhouse and A.R.T. John-Andrew is a co-host and co-creator of the web talk show 5 Questions with James and JAM with James Jackson Jr. They have interviewed incredible artists including Ryan Reynolds, Gavin Creel, BD Wong, Saycon Sengbloh and many more. He is also a guest interviewer for The Live at the Lortel podcast and served as the pride month and black history month social media curator for the Lucille Lortel Theater Foundation. John-Andrew made his 54 Below solo concert debut with No..Maybe..Why Not? He presented a cabaret show called Youngish at The Laurie Beechman Theater. With James Jackson, John-Andrew has been a host for The Page 73 Gala, The Curtain Up Broadway Festival in Times Square sponsored by Playbill and the Songwriters Showcase for NAMT.

John-Andrew has been an adjunct lecturer in musical theater performance at The Edna Manley School for the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica. He was invited to teach a master class in Musical Theater and deliver The Eckler Lecture at The University of Mount Union. John-Andrew has been a guest speaker at Skidmore College, AMDA, Ohio University and The Trinity/ La Mama program on theater careers, process and new work collaborations. John-Andrew holds a BA in Theater Arts from Brandeis University and an MFA in Acting from U.C.S.D. He is a member of The Actors Center.

Jenne Vath (Nurse) is a founding member of the Experimentals along with John-Andrew Morrison and Jason Howard; the performance group was founded by La MaMa Resident Director George Ferencz. Vath has taken part in many La MaMa Experiments; served as Ferencz's dramaturg for the "From The Vault" Experiments Season; performed in many La MaMa shows, including the revival of Sam Shepard's "The Tooth of Crime", a From the Vault production; Ridiculous Theatrical Company; Red Bull Theater; Living Theatre; Theater for the New City (incl. "When We've Done This Winter" by H.M. Koutoukas); currently 40 Hour Club in residence at La MaMa/The Colonial Theater, ME. Vath's performance is dedicated to George Ferencz, founder of La MaMa Experiments Series, which next season celebrates 25 years nurturing new experimental plays. As always, Thank you Nancy.

Victoria Villier (Stage Directions) is an actor, costume designer, & interdisciplinary artist hailing from Queens, NY. Victoria is fascinated with the concept of Radical Imagination, a term from abolitionist and activist, Angela Davis, & will embark on that journey within her artistic practice & life. Recent credits include Fantasia International Short Film Best Actress (2021) & Palm Springs Best U.S Short Award (2021) for “Inheritance, Lessons in Survival” (Vineyard Theatre); “LORDES” (New Ohio Theatre); “Blanks” (Signature Theater); “Chasing The New White Whale” (La MaMa); “Avalon” (Opera House Arts); & “The Hysteria Plays: The deliverance and Astronaut (or Frantic Action)” (Dixon Place). 2019 Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence program at Ken Kesey Farm Project. Victoria is currently pursuing her MFA in Acting at NYU.

Special Thanks: Ozzie Rodriguez; The La MaMa Archives; Josh Rothenberg; & The Department of Communication, Theatre, & Media Production at Queensborough Community College/CUNY.

Experiments Play Reading Series


For the 23rd season of La MaMa Experiments we will focus on theatrical works in progress addressing mental health issues. No one is more familiar with the need to create greater access to mental healthcare than our New York audience, who come face to face with this crisis on a daily basis. After 3 years of a global pandemic, all of us are feeling the upsurge of anxiety and depression, but these trends have been on the rise long before Covid-19. The works this season shed light on important, personal stories and deal with this subject matter in many different and unique ways. From tongue in cheek comedies to absurdist tragedies, Experiments hopes to create a season that will destigmaify, enlighten and, yes, even entertain.

Special Event