Stewart, Ellen(1931– ) theater producer, director; born in Alexandria, La. Starting out as an elevator operator and clothing designer, she set up her own little theater in a New York tenement basement in 1962; growing from this, her companies—known variously as La Mama, Cafe La Mama, and La Mama ETC (Experimental Theater Club)—performed countless plays by avant-garde, international, and young American playwrights; toured widely and to great acclaim; and set up branches throughout the world. Self-taught in the drama and theatrical arts, married five times, she is recognized as a major influence in late-20th-century theater.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.