La MaMa to Pay Tribute to Late George Bartenieff with COFFEEHOUSE CHRONICLES Featuring Kathleen Chalfant & More

‍Coffeehouse Chronicles is an educational performance series exploring the history of Off-Off Broadway.

By: Sep. 27, 2022
La MaMa to Pay Tribute to Late George Bartenieff with COFFEEHOUSE CHRONICLES Featuring Kathleen Chalfant & More

George Bartenieff - actor, director, and co-founder of Theater for the New City - will be remembered at one of theatres he called home, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club. Bartenieff's life and work will be celebrated at Coffeehouse Chronicles #166 on October 1, 2022 at 3pm, at the Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4 St.) in New York City.

George Bartenieff was born in Berlin in 1933 into a family of dancers, and immigrated to the United States in 1939. He began his professional acting career on Broadway at age 14 in 1947, in The Whole World Over, directed by Harold Clurman and starring Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof. Bartenieff also acted major roles with Bread & Puppet Theater, Mabou Mines, The Public Theater and Shakespeare in the Park, and many regional theaters. He was on Broadway as the Rabbi in Harvey Fierstein's Fiddler on the Roof, with Al Pacino in Richard II, and in Lillian Hellman's Montserrat. He taught acting and play making at HB Studios. Bartenieff is winner of four Obie Awards for Acting and Sustained Excellence in Theater, and for producing, and a Drama Desk Award. Bartenieff co-founded Theater for the New City with Crystal Field, where he produced over 400 new American plays, including the Pulitzer Prize winning Buried Child by Sam Shepard and seven plays by Irene Fornes. He also co-founded the Greenwich Halloween Parade, and produced four Eco-Festivals at TNC and with six other theaters nationwide.

Karen Malpede and Bartenieff have worked together since 1987 (Us, directed by Judith Malina), co-founding the Obie-winning Theater Three Collaborative in 1995 with the late Lee Nagrin. Bartenieff and Malpede produced, with Bartenieff acting major roles in, Malpede's poetic, social justice plays on themes ranging from Bosnia and rape in war (The Beekeeper's Daughter), the Iraq war (Prophecy), U.S. torture program (Another Life) to climate change (Extreme Whether) and to utopian visions for a species (Other Than We), to World War II (I Will Bear Witness: the Holocaust Diaries of Victor Klemperer. Blue Valiant, a play about a grieving horse, was written for Bartenieff and Kathleen Chalfant. Their work has premiered in New York (Theater for the New City, La MaMa, NYTW, Classic Stage, Irondale, Gerald W. Lynch Theater), and has been staged in London, Paris, Berlin, Prishtina, Kosovo, and Veroli, Italy. Bartenieff's great love was socially transformative, poetic language theater. George Bartenieff died on July 30, 2022, with his collaborator/wife Karen Malpede at his side, in his Brooklyn home.

Coffeehouse Chronicles #166: Celebrating George Bartenieff is curated and directed by Michal Gamily, and moderated by Cindy Rosenthal. Participants include Karen Malpede, Alex Bartenieff, Briana Bartenieff, JoAnne Akailitis, Kathleen Chalfant, Sally Ann Parsons, Christen Clifford, Tony Giovannetti, Carrie Sophia Ciminera, Rocco Sisto, Tommie J. Moore, Andrew Guilarte, Beatriz Tiche Schiller, Di Zhu, Dr. Perry Cook, and Peter Schumann. The event will show clips from Bartenieff's performances in Blue Valiant and I Will Bear Witness, readings from his Brig Log (chronicling The Living Theater's 1963 production of The Brig), excerpts from his LES Biography Project interview with Penny Arcade, and footage of his ashes scattered at Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont.

‍Coffeehouse Chronicles is an educational performance series exploring the history of Off-Off Broadway. Part artist-portrait, part history lesson, and part community forum, Coffeehouse Chronicles take an intimate look at the development of downtown theatre, from the 1960s' "Coffeehouse Theatres" through today. Events feature firsthand oral accounts from artists of the day, as well as conversations with contemporary artists who work in the same bold, daring manner today. Since 2005, La MaMa has presented more than 150 Coffeehouse Chronicles, building on their mission to provide a home for personal engagement with art. The series is curated and directed by Michal Gamily.


About La MaMa

La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. La MaMa's 61st "Remake A World" Season believes in the power of art to bring sustainable change over time and transform our cultural narrative. At La MaMa, new work is created from a multiplicity of perspectives, experiences, and disciplines, influencing how we think about and experience art. The flexibility of their spaces, specifically the newly reimagined building at 74 East 4th Street (La MaMa's original permanent home), gives local and remote communities access to expanded daytime programming. The digital tools embedded in the space allows artists to collaborate remotely, and audiences worldwide to participate in La MaMa's programming.

A recipient of the 2018 Regional Theater Tony Award, more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has been a creative home for thousands of artists, and resident companies, many of whom have made lasting contributions to the arts, including Blue Man Group, Bette Midler, Ed Bullins, Ping Chong, Jackie Curtis, André De Shields, Adrienne Kennedy, Harvey Fierstein, Diane Lane, Playhouse of the Ridiculous, Tom Eyen, Pan Asian Rep, Spiderwoman Theater, Tadeusz Kantor, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Mabou Mines, Meredith Monk, Peter Brook, David and Amy Sedaris, Julie Taymor, Kazuo Ohno, Tom O'Horgan, and Andy Warhol. La MaMa's vision of nurturing new artists and new work from all nations, cultures, races and identities remains as strong today as it was when Ellen Stewart first opened the doors in 1961.

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