Living Theatre



  • (LT) The experimental off-Broadway company foundedin 1948 in New York by Julian Beck and his wife, JudithMalina. Their productions of plays by such writers as Brecht,Cocteau, and Pirandello profoundly influenced the experimental theaterof the 1960s. Beck called their presentations "an image fora changing society".

    The Living Theatre acquired a permanent venue in 1959 butwas evicted four years later for tax evasion. The company's last productionwas Kenneth Brown's The Brig (1963), an exposé of brutalityin a US Marine Corps prison; to see it the audience had to enter thepadlocked theater through the windows. From 1964 until 1968 the LTtoured Europe with several politically provocative productions, includinga version of Antigone (1967) set during the Vietnam War. Aftera year in Brazil (1970) the Becks moved to Pittsburgh where they presenteda series of plays using coal miners and steel workers as actors. Thecompany returned to New York in 1984. Beck died the following year,but Malina and Hanon Reznikov kept the Living Theatre living. Theideas that inspired the company are set out in Beck's book TheLife of the Theatre (1972) and Malina's Diaries 1947 - 57(1984).