Aug 20, 2021
Sep 9, 2021

International Virtual Directors’ Symposium 2021

La MaMa International Virtual Directors’ Symposium 2021
Hope Azeda (Uganda/Rwanda)
Rhodessa Jones (USA)
Renae Morriseau (Canada)
Jose Luis Valenzuela (Mexico)

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International Virtual Directors’ Symposium 2021



The LaMaMa International Programs provide opportunities for artists from around the world to learn new or unfamiliar approaches to creating theatre, while sharing their processes with fellow artists.

This Summer for our 22nd year, The La MaMa International Symposium for Directors addresses the inequities in our systems and practices, looking to artists whose work advances justice and fosters transformation. The artists who will lead workshops are esteemed directors/devisers who work at the intersection of art and social change. You will experience the practices and processes that they have developed over their careers to create theatrical events which are inspired by their backgrounds and lived experiences.

Share this journey with us as we engage with a variety of approaches to making theatrical work that we may choose to emulate in our own work. We will focus on engaging directors in participatory experiences. where each artist will have the opportunity to explore art-making in an open, creative space that can lead to “trusting ourselves enough to push beyond limits of what we think we know.”

Hope Azeda
Carving Light out of Darkness

On this path travelled called life, I found art to be a great walking stick defining our innermost encounters with self. It is the same art that has become the undying flame from within empowering us with a resilient spirit that constantly strikes and curves light in darkness. Art has been the greatest companion in the most unknown time and space we currently live in. We will explore the true meaning of art in our lives and it’s off-text ability to thrive.  

Rhodessa Jones
Creative Performance, Creative Survival

"Creative Performance, Creative Survival" is rooted in the autobiography of getting people to tell their own story. Jones leads Directors through the process of encouraging talent to fully express from their deepest voice, in a manner never experienced before. This involves developing a deep trust within the group, which is Jones' specialty. "Sharing our stories is an act of transformation. Once you truly experience another’s story, it changes your relationship to the 'Other'," she says.  The basis of Jones' "Performance Methodology" is using art as a vehicle for "Making the Project Public" and as a tool for healing and discussion.  

Renae Morriseau
Breaking the Barriers of Art Practices

Through excerpts of Indigenous Canadian plays, Renae will share her methodologies related to her Cree/Saulteaux background to explore the concepts of humour, and drama, & Indigenous cultural worldview in the selected works.  She will also explore with the participants the tools needed in devised theatre creations as a facilitator, dramaturge and director.

José Luis Valenzuela
Using our Collective Voice to Heal our Communities

The workshop will focus on ensemble-based exercises that I use within my own practices to create work. We’ll use contemporary life anecdotes along with image making techniques to explore what lies underneath the text. Students will learn how to draw from their personal lives to formulate the right questions that will allow them to inject their unique point of view into their work. The workshop will also focus on crafting the intentionality of the work to drive the story forward and successfully connect with the audience they are speaking to.



"I've been reeling with joy from all I learned at the Director's Symposium this summer--it was so wonderful to be back after ten years, even virtually.Thank you so much for leading the La MaMa Director's Symposium in the new form it took this year! It was a wonderfully rejuvenating experience to connect with so many amazing directors and to spend time working on theater of so many descriptions. Thank you, thank, you, thank you for organizing and enabling such an amazing group of teaching-and-learning artists." —Rory Pelsue

"Thanks for everything, David. I know I’m sounding like a broken record but this symposium has been so wonderful and so meaningful." -- Grace Phelan

"First of all, thank you for making the online symposium such a fantastic learning experience for all of us. I am incredibly grateful that I was able to take part! How amazing it was and is to build connection with a cohort of brilliant humans around the world! Thank you to the La MaMa Umbria International Symposium for Directors for an exciting and inspiring, entirely re-imagined virtual experience." --- Sophie Rich

"I had the most incredible 11 days (virtually) attending La MaMa Umbria: International Symposium for Directors REIMAGINED - informative, challenging and inspiring! I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart, both for holding the symposium and for allowing me to be a part of it. It was such a special time to be able to connect with other artists and learn from the spectacular panel you brought in to work with us." --- Allison Plamendon

"I’ve been meaning to write you a thank you for the INCREDIBLE job you did putting together this year’s LA MAMA Symposium. I am still high on the 11 days…still processing…and still feeling so incredibly fortunate to have been able to spend those 11 days with those terrific theater artists—both teachers and fellow participants" --Alisa Matlovsky

Creator and Director

Hope was raised as a refugee in Uganda and returned to Rwanda after finishing her theatre studies at Makerere University. She is one of the leading figures in contemporary Rwandan theatre. As the founder and artistic director of Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company, a leading theatre company in Rwanda since 1997. Hope has been involved with 77 productions including Africa’s Hope which was performed in Kigali at the 10th anniversary commemoration of the genocide. It premiered at the G8 World Summit in Edinburgh in 2005, toured in the UK in 2006 and 2008, and was also featured in the biennial festival in Sweden in 2008. In 2012 Africa’s Hope made its premier in Los Angeles USA. In 2015 she created a legacy based project, she created the Ubumuntu Arts Festival which showcases drama for reconciliation. Ms. Azeda’s work as a writer, performer and teacher has taken her to many countries. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Institute for the Arts and Civic Dialogue in Cambridge-Massachusetts, an alumni of Brown University International Advanced Research Institute. Ms Azeda  a fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative (ALI-ASPEN-Institute). Hope acts as a cultural facilitator throughout Rwanda and is curator of Ubumuntu Arts Festival.

Renae Morriseau

Renae is a Cree (nehiyaw iskwew ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐤ  ᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ) and Saulteaux woman (nahkawiskwêw ᓇᐦᑲᐃᐧᐢᑫᐧᐤ) from the Treaty 1 Territory on the lands now known as Manitoba, Canada.  She has journeyed across Canada and internationally in film, television, theatre and music.  She’s worked with Urban Ink Productions on a community theatre project called, ‘Home, Homelessness & the Culture In-between’. This 9-month dramaturgical theatre project culminated in 7 Indigenous women creating their stories about Home.  In 2018, Renae co-wrote, directed and was the cultural ambassador for the western Canada theatrical tour of Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way.  Currently, she is working with emerging writers as a dramaturg.  She is making some videos on the COVID Rollout in First Nations communities in Canada and performing on-line with her music group, M’Girl. In 2022, Renae will be directing, a new work, White Noise, by the late Taran Kootenhayoo.  

Co-Artistic Director of Cultural Odyssey
​Founder & Director of the Medea Project

Recently celebrated by the National Black Theater Festival, Rhodessa Jones is a world renowned Artist, Director, Playwright, Professor, and Author who has produced and performed in every country of the world. From an international perspective, Jones' workshops are geared toward Directors who plan to create work that advances social causes - Art As Social Activism.  Jones will teach a broad range of tools to work with professionals, community-based artists, and community members who may be facing trauma and health challenges. This Fall, the State of California has asked Jones to train artists to teach in the State prison system.

José Luis Valenzuela

J José Luis Valenzuela is the Artistic Director of the Latino Theater Company (LTC), and The Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC) and is also a Distinguished Professor at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film & Television. Valenzuela is an award-winning theater director, and has been a visionary and an advocate for Chicanx/Latinx Theater for over 30 years. He has directed critically acclaimed productions at major theaters both internationally and nationally including the LATC where he created the Latino Theatre Lab in 1985 and the Mark Taper Forum where he established the Latino Theater Initiative in 1991. He has directed, The Mother of Henry, Solitude, Premeditation, Dementia, and A Mexican Trilogy for the Latino Theatre Company. Most recently he also directed Macbeth at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Karen Zacarias’ Destiny of Desire at Arena Stage, South Coast Rep, The Goodman Theatre, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. His international directing credits include Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt at the Norland Theatre in Norway and Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman at the National Theatre of Norway. He produced the national Encuentro Festival in 2014 and national and international Encuentro de las Americas in 2017.

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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