Legendary “Living Theatre” on the Brink; Can it Survive?

A still from the documentary "Love and Politics" with Judith Malina. Directed by Azad Jafarian. The film will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 29th.

Since its inception as a pioneer in avant-garde theater and experimentation, way back in 1947, The Living Theatre‘s work has revolved around messages of injustice, peaceful anarchy, struggle and revolution.  A new film, “Love and Politics,” about co-founder Judith Malina and the company, will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 29th. The film offers a slice of 85-year old Malina’s contemporary life, and documents some of the recent struggles in the company’s current home at 21 Clinton Street.

We recently sat down with the Living Theatre’s executive producer, Brad Burgess, to discuss the company’s current state of affairs.  Burgess was a 23 year old actor in the company who stepped in to assist Malina after the death of her partner, Hanon Reznikov, in 2008. The company had just returned from almost thirty years abroad, touring internationally and around the U.S., without a permanent home. They found the space on Clinton Street in 2005, renovated it and opened with much fanfare in 2007.

The Living Theatre Celebrates New Year’s Eve with Debut Production

Continuing our Lower East Side New Year’s Eve roundup, here’s an intriguing way to ring in 2012: The historic, avant-garde theater company The Living Theatre will be debuting their production, The History of the World, written by the living legend, artist and activist Judith Malina. The play is the culmination of a collaboration the theatre company has been working on with Snowy Wilderness (of the arts/fashion collaborative in downtown Brooklyn and member of the Occupy Brooklyn Movement) who will be “curating” the evening.   The party will include a pre-release event for Defrag, an international ipad magazine on culture.

Living Theatre Revisits Seven Meditations On Political Sado-Masochism

A Poster from the 1973 Production

The Living Theatre is presenting a rare revival of one of their most significant pieces, Seven Meditations On Political Sado-Masochism, which has not been performed since it’s debut in 1973.  Seven Meditations was written after co-founder Judith Malina and members of the company were imprisoned–and some tortured–by the Médici dictatorship in Brazil in that same year. Described as “a visceral examination of the social contract between the governed and the government,” the play explores Sacher-Masoch’s Six Houses of Bondage: Love, Money, Property, State, War and Death, with a seventh meditation on Revolutionary Change. Associate Director Brad Burgess tells us the show has been updated to address the political prisoners and victims of the current revolutions. The show is being presented by the Culture Project’s Women Center Stage which is at The Living Theatre all month. Directed by living legend, Judith Malina.  The show contains nudity and a simulated torture scene. Every Tues. and Wed. at 10:30pm during March // Pay What You Can at the door // 21 Clinton Street.

Judith Malina’s KORACH to Debut at The Living Theatre

Living Legend Judith Malina has been hard at work on a new show with her vigorous ensemble of players at The Living Theatre. Now in their 63rd season, (you read that correctly) Malina has begun previews for her latest experimental production, KORACH. They note that the piece is “a new play based on the Biblical account of Korach, ‘the first recorded anarchist in history,’ who challenged the authority of Moses over the Israelites; a pivotal point in their 40-year trek through the desert after their liberation from Egyptian slavery.” For more about the show and the historic Living Theatre, visit (Off)broadwayworld here.  The show will officially open on December 16. $20 (Wed. pay-what-you-can) // Wed.-Sat. // 8pm // 21 Clinton Street.

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.