Estelle Parsons and Peter Swords Honored at LA MAMA CELEBRATES 51 Gala Tonight


The Oscar-winning and Tony-nominated actress Estelle Parsons will be honored at La Mama's annual benefit fundraiser, along with longtime La MaMa board member Peter Swords tonight, February 27, 2013 at the Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4 St.), it was previously announced by Mia Yoo, Artistic Director of La MaMa, and Frank Carucci, President of the theatre's Board of Directors.

Ms. Parsons, who appeared last fall at La MaMa in Marco Calvani's play THINGS OF THIS WORLD directed by Neil LaBute, and Mr. Swords, who served as a member of the La MaMa Board for 25 years, will be celebrated at the event by personal and video tributes from playwrights Warren Leight and Mr. LaBute. Among the expected guest attendees will be the award-winning actor Mandy Patinkin.

The evening's performances will include an excerpt from Andre Serban's and Liz Swados's TROJAN WOMEN, one of the most renowned productions in La MaMa's first half-century; and a live collaborative performance across distance with HIP HOP RE-EDUCATION PROJECT in New York joined via satellite with traditional Korean drummers in Seoul.

As well, honoree Ms. Parsons will perform with Lance Gries, a former member of Trisha Brown Dance Company.

Mr. Carucci will present Mr. Swords with his award.

Serving as hosts at tables at the benefit will be longtime La MaMa artist John Kelly and playwright John Jesurun.

With its 51st Season entitled BEYOND BORDERS -- focused on artists and work that push beyond conventional borders of sex, race, culture and theatre forms -- Ms. Yoo explains, "Estelle and Peter were natural choices as honorees for this season. Both have devoted their careers to challenging the status quo and breaking new ground in their respective professions. We are so proud to be honoring two extraordinary individuals who have contributed so much."

LA MAMA CELEBRATES 51 will be held tonight, February 27 at the Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003). Tickets to the event are priced at $250 for the gala dinner and performance. The evening begins with cocktails at 6:30 p.m., followed by a dinner and performance at 7:30 p.m.

For event packages, questions or information about LA MAMA CELEBRATES 51, call La MaMa at 212-254-6468.

Estelle Parsons enjoys a lengthy and successful career, having appeared on television, film, and the stage since the early 1950s. Her first foray into the business began when she was hired by "The Today Show," first as a production assistant, then staff writer, which eventually led her to become the first female television network political news reporter. Towards the late 1950's Estelle began acting and appeared in her first stage performance in 1956 for the production of HAPPY HUNTING. Since then, Estelle has gone on to either star in or direct over 25 productions. Most notably, she has been nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performances in THE SEVEN DESCENTS OF MYRTLE (1968); AND MISS REARDON DRINKS A LITTLE (1971); and MISS MARGARIDA'S WAY (1978). Furthermore, she was nominated for the Tony Award for Featured Actress for her work in MORNINGS AT SEVEN (2002). Estelle's first film role came in "Ladybug, Ladybug" in 1963 and continued with 15 more roles over the next 30 years. In particular, her role in "Bonnie & Clyde" garnered an Academy Award (1967), and she was nominated again the following year for her work in "Rachel, Rachel" (1968). Other film performances include "Don't Drink the Water" (1969), "I Walk the Line" (1970), "I Never Sang for My Father" (1970), "Watermelon Man" (1970), "For Pete's Sake" (1974), "Dick Tracy" (1990), "Boys on the Side" (1995), and "Looking for Richard" (1996). On television, Estelle appeared in ALL IN THE FAMILY, but is best remembered as the mother of ROSEANNE on the eponymous hit sitcom, logging over 50 episodes during the show's nine-year run. Most recently, she has appeared in the television mini-series on HBO EMPIRE FALLS (2005). She triumphantly returned to Broadway in 2008 as the star of AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, and subsequently toured Canada and the States. She won the Garland Award in Los Angeles for Best Actress. Her most recent turn on Broadway was in the musical NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT. She starred in DEATHTRAP in the West End with Simon Russell Beale. In addition to teaching acting at Columbia and Yale, Estelle Parsons served as the Artistic Director of the Actors' Studio between 1996 and 2001.

La MaMa Advisory Board member Peter Swords served on La MaMa's Board of Directors from 1984-2009. He currently serves on the Boards of the National Council of Nonprofit Associations, the National Community Risk Center, the Center for the Study of Philanthropy, the Correctional Association, La Mama Theater and Fund, Inc. of the New York City Bar Association. He is also a member of the Advisory Council to the City's Procurement Policy Board, the Human Service Council, the Independent Sector Government Relations Council and serves as Chair of the National Council of Nonprofit Associations' Government Relations Committee. Prior to joining NPCC, Mr. Swords was an Associate Dean at the Columbia Law School for 14 years. He continues to teach courses there, as well as Teachers College, on nonprofit institutions and frequently lectures in the area of nonprofit law and liability insurance. Mr. Swords is the author of the book Charitable Real Property Tax Exemptions in New York State.

La MaMa is a remarkable arts institution with a world-wide reputation for producing cutting-edge work in theater, dance, performance art, and music. Founded in 1961 by theater pioneer and legend, Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has produced and presented more than 3,500 theatrical productions to date and is a vital part of the fabric of cultural life in New York City and around the world.

La MaMa provides a supportive home for artists and takes risks on unknown work. Artists such as Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, Harvey Fierstein, Blue Man Group, David and Amy Sedaris, -and others whose names you haven't heard of yet - began their careers at La MaMa. International Artists introduced to America by La MaMa include Tadeusz Kantor, Andrei Serban, Kazuo Ohno and, more recently, the acclaimed Belarus Free Theatre.La MaMa has been honored with more than 30 OBIE Awards, dozens of Drama Desk and Bessie Awards, and, in 2006, Ellen Stewart was recognized with a special TONY Award for "Excellence in the Theatre."

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