My LES: Brad Burgess
This weekly feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. If you have someone you would like to recommend for “My LES,” please email us here.
What do you do?
I’m the Associate Artistic Director and Administrative Director at The Living Theatre, as well as Personal and Business Manager to Judith Malina, Artistic Director of The Living Theatre.
The Living Theatre was founded in 1947, and in so many words, was part of the movement/invention of Off Broadway theater. Judith and Julian Beck founded the theater as a response to traditional theater methods, in hopes of inspiring visionary and revolutionary thoughts and actions, to shape a more peaceful and harmonious society. We do experimental, avant guard theater.
What are you working on now?
We are working on our next play, “Korach,” which Judith is adapting from The Five Books of Moses, The Psalms, and the Jewish Mishnas. Judith has been working on this play for a decade. It is remarkable so far, in its draft form. It will be opening in the winter this coming theater season. I am assistant director on this play, as well as executive producer with Judith.
Also, I work with the Community Board 3 Arts Task Force with Jan Hanvik over at CSV. And I volunteer on other projects, including The Downtown Coalition for the Recovery Efforts in Haiti with The Action Center to End World Hunger (headed by former city councilman Alan Gerson), and Mercy Corps.
Mostly, over the past two and a half years, I have been privileged to work with, live with and assist Judith Malina. She is one of the most remarkable women on the planet, and at age 84, shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.
How is The Living Theatre surviving there on Clinton Street?
I must say that we are really breaking some of our traditions and finding more ways to collaborate with other companies, different theater organizations, advocacy groups, etc., as well as with the government, fire department, police department etc. As a radical group, it can be tough to get funding and find stability. But we are struggling to redesign our image as more hopeful, peaceful radicals, willing to make the best out of a depleted arts economy.
How long have you lived on the LES?
Three and a half years.
Favorite block in the hood?
Clinton Street between Houston and Stanton.
Favorite date spot in the hood?
My bedroom. Just kidding. Not really. Of course I’m kidding. No I’m not. (We’re like one of the original “free love” theater companies, so I have to throw that in here…) Honestly, where else do you hope it ends up?
There are a ton of great spots, Frankies, Clinton St. Bakery, Dessert Works, Cocoa Bar, Culture Fix, and that doesn’t even get to the bars and clubs.
Favorite coffee in the hood?
Have to go with Judith on this one, she lived in Italy for years and years and years, and she loves Piada.
Favorite slice in the hood?
I’m goin’ with San Marzano.
Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?
All over New York City. Part of the special part of the LES is seeing that this kind of environment is so close to Midtown, Upper East and West, Soho, Chinatown, Tribecca etc. It is a remarkable gem on this treasure island.
Favorite dive/locals bar in the hood?
The Delancey. Certainly not a dive, but definitely a great mixture of locals for all sorts of occasions, including their gorgeous roof.
Favorite LES memory?
This is tough. It is a memory factory. At the risk of getting too personal, I will say opening The Brig, in 2007.