The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Paul Foster

Paul Foster

President of La MaMa E.T.C., Playwright
Born on Thursday, October 15, 1931

Interviewed on: Thursday, August 20, 2015
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #50
"It was a theatre built on improvisation… every day was a new trial… it keeps you on your toes."
Paul Foster Highlights
Video Length: 5 Minutes, 39 Seconds
Paul Foster Interview
Video Length: 2 Hours, 5 Minutes

Paul Foster is a playwright, director, and first President of La MaMa Experimental Theatre Company. His plays produced at La MaMa E.T.C. include: HURRAH FOR THE BRIDGE (1963), THE RECLUSE (1964), THE MADONNA IN THE ORCHARD (1965), BALLS (1966), THE HESSIAN CORPORAL (1966), TOM PAINE (1967), and SATYRICON (1972). Throughout his career, Foster has won numerous awards, including Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, and a British Arts Council Award.

Foster grew up in Salem, New Jersey and studied Journalism at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, subsequently attending NYU Law School. After having served in the Navy for two years, and about to return to law school, he had a shift in mindset and wanted to write a play with a revolutionary state-of-mind. He met Ellen Stewart, who wanted to open a clothing boutique. Foster wanted to share the space with her by opening a theater in the basement. Together they started La MaMa E.T.C. in 1962; it has since become legendary.

Mentioned in Interview

Ellen Stewart, Harold Pinter, Tom Eyen, Caffe Cino, Lanford Wilson, Leonard Melfi, Tom O’Horgan, Harvey Keitel, Tom Eyen, Lanford Wilson, Leonard Melfi, Tom O’Horgan, Caffe Cino, La MaMa E.T.C., HURRAH FOR THE BRIDGE, BALLS, TOM PAINE, THE MADONNA IN THE ORCHARD, ELIZABETH I