Trinity/La MaMa Performing Arts Program

The Trinity/La MaMa Performing Arts Program is a fall semester study away program of Trinity College[1] based at the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club[2] in New York City. The program is part of the Trinity College Office of Study Away, with students from various other liberal arts colleges enrolled in the program every year. Undergraduate students take classes and workshops that vary across all topics of interdisciplinary art, including acting, dance, performance art, puppetry, site-specific theatre, playwriting, directing, and media-based performance. Each student works at an internship/field study in an arts organization twice a week. Students also attend 3-4 shows a week in all disciplines of performance. Throughout the semester, students create and showcase original pieces, with a final performance presented at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club and at Trinity College in Hartford, CT.[3]

Trinity/La MaMa Performing Arts Program
Trinity-La MaMa Performing Arts Program logo.png
FounderJudy Dworin, Leonardo Shapiro
Parent institution
Trinity College (Connecticut), Office of Study Away
AffiliationLa MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
DirectorBarbara Karger
La MaMa Rehearsal Studios

The Trinity/La MaMa office and classes take place at the La MaMa Rehearsal Studios. The students are housed at the 92nd Street Y.[4] The program has admitted students from dozens of colleges throughout the country since its inception.[5][6][7][8][9][10]


In 1983, the theater and dance departments of Trinity College were combined to create one Theater & Dance department. Spear headed by Trinity professor and La MaMa artist, Judy Dworin, this change provided a platform for the development of Trinity/La MaMa.[3]

In 1985, Dworin, along with Leonardo Shapiro, director/founder of the Shaliko Company, brought a group of Trinity students to visit New York City to explore the downtown performance scene and museums. The trip's primary goal was to expose the Theater & Dance students to the booming emergence of the multi-disciplinary landscape of New York.

From the success of this first visit, along with Dworin and Shapiro's artistic affiliations with La MaMa and La MaMa founder Ellen Stewart's passion towards education in the performing arts, Trinity/La MaMa celebrated its first semester in 1986.[11]

1986 - Early 1990sEdit

From 1986 to 1992, Shapiro acted as Program Director. During this period, the program hosted many guest artists to teach the students, including Ping Chong,[12] Bill Irwin, Steve Paxton, Cecil McKinnon, Nina Martin, Eiko & Koma, Anne Bogart, Cathy Weis, Yoshiko Chuma, The Living Theatre, and Robbie McCauley. Specialty classes included voice, physical theatre, acting and text, kinetic awareness, piano, and the following dance forms: modern dance, jazz, ballet, African dance, Flamenco dance, and contact improvisation.

The program took a hiatus in 1993. In its place was a summer program led by Bulgarian theater director, Damyan Popchristov, in collaboration with the Nikitsky Gate Theater and Trinity College. This summer program would continue until 1999.[13]

1994 - 2005Edit

Trinity/La MaMa made its return in fall of 1994, with Damyan Popchristov as Artistic Director, and Chris Andersson as Administrative Director.[14] The program would continue to work with guest artists for ongoing classes and workshops, including Lenora Champagne, Olga Lebedeva, Lisa Race, Patricia Hoffbauer, Maureen Fleming, Claire Porter, Jonathan Hart Makwaia, Lynn Moffat, Tiffany Mills, Joan MacIntosh, and Jonah Emsig.

From 2000 to 2001, upon Popchristov's departure from the program, performance artist George Emilio Sanchez took on the role as interim Artistic Director.

From 2001 to 2005, interdisciplinary performance artist Roberto Sifuentes took on the role of Artistic Director.[15] In 2001, the Trinity/La MaMa Advisory Board was established, containing faculty members from Trinity College, Amherst College, Brown University, Oberlin College, and Ohio University.[16]

Spring SemestersEdit

From 2004 to 2005, the program had both a spring semester and a fall semester. The spring semester was a notably different format. With its focus on solo performance, independent rehearsal, and field studies geared more towards apprenticeships, the spring semester had a class size between 3-5 students. Upon the departure of Sifuentes in 2006, the program returned to a fall-only program.[16]

2006 - 2017Edit

In 2006, performance artist Michael Burke became Program Director.[17] During his time as director, the program went through various changes. From 2006 to 2012, the semester was referred to as the Trinity/La MaMa Urban Arts Semester. In 2009, the program was absorbed into the Trinity College Office of Study Away, departing from its history being under the umbrella of the Theater and Dance Department.[18]

A new docket of guest artists and instructors became involved with the program, including Tim Miller, Peter Sciscioli,[19] Peculiar Works Project,[20] Lindsey Dietz Marchant, Alexandra Beller, Josh Moser, Juliana Francis, Grace Kiley, Federico Restrepo and Loco7, Snezhana Chernova,[21] Jason Trucco, and Pablo Vela, amongst many others.[18]

2018 - presentEdit

In 2018, Trinity college associate professor and director Barbara Karger became Program Director. The program most recently incorporated formatted workshops by Tectonic Theater Project and Anne Bogart Viewpoints with SITI Company. Most recent guest artist workshop collaborations include Trojan Women from the Great Jones Repertory Company, Lake Simons, and Jennifer Miller.[22]


The program has five components to its structure:

  • Creation and performance of original work
  • Ongoing classes with core instructors in voice, movement, and acting
  • Ongoing workshops in various disciplines
  • Weekly attendance of 3-4 performances
  • Twice a week internship/field study placement with an arts organization, individual artist, or theater company[3]

Notable AlumniEdit

Trinity/La MaMa students of note include Golden Globe nominated actress Piper Perabo, two-time Emmy Award winner and documentary filmmaker Dyllan McGee, Broadway playwright and director Stephen Belber, poet, playwright and director Kit Ex, Obie Award and Lucille Lortel Award-winning playwright Nilaja Sun, and multimedia artist Sharon Hayes.[23]


  1. ^ "Trinity/La MaMa Performing Arts Semester in New York City". Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  2. ^ "University Programs". La MaMa. Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  3. ^ a b c "History". Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  4. ^ "Housing". Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  5. ^ "Internship Links". Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  6. ^ "Weekly E-Announce |". Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  7. ^ "Trinity/La Mama | Department of Theater". Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  8. ^ "Dance". Oberlin College and Conservatory. 2016-10-24. Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  9. ^ "News From the Field | Peacebuilding and the Arts | Brandeis University". Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  10. ^ "Pre-approved Domestic Programs - Study Away - Vassar College". Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  11. ^ Davidson, Martha (Winter 1988). "Trinity/La MaMa: The Program". The Trinity Reporter. 18: 10–17 – via ISSUU.
  12. ^ "Theater Director Ping Chong Discusses the Uniqueness of The Medium". Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  13. ^ Dworin, Judy. Trinity/La MaMa Archives: 1986 - 1992. 47 Great Jones St, 4th Fl, New York, NY 10012: Trinity College.
  14. ^ "Nothing But Drama". Nothing But Drama. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  15. ^ "Roberto & Lian Sifuentes". Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  16. ^ a b Andersson, Chris. Trinity/La MaMa Archives: 1994 - 2004. 47 Great Jones St, 4th Fl, New York, NY 10012: Trinity College.
  17. ^ "Michael Jackson Was Innocent and I Didn't Kill Jonbenet Ramsey… But I Was There the Night She Died". Dixon Place. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  18. ^ a b Guyton, Leslie. Trinity/La MaMa Archives: 2006 - 2014. 47 Great Jones St, 4th Fl, New York, NY 10012: Trinity College.
  19. ^ "Past". P E T E R S C I S C I O L I. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  20. ^ "Peculiar Works Project: Master Classes". Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  21. ^ "Chernova, Snezhana". HB Studio. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  22. ^ Tornello, Marisa. Trinity/La MaMa Archives: 2015 - 2019. 47 Great Jones St, 4th Fl, New York, NY 10012: Trinity College.
  23. ^ Andersson, Chris. Trinity/La MaMa Archives: 1994 - 2004. 47 Great Jones St, 4th Fl, New York, NY 10012: Trinity College.