Monday, April 8, 2013
JUDITH MALINA--ACTRESS, DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER OF THE LIVING THEATRE, 86
In the late 1940s, Judith Malina and her late husband Julian Beck founded the Living Theatre. The influential, avant garde company toured the world, put nudity on the stage and advocated for world peace. Malina herself was arrested in more than 12 different countries, including Sweden. Malina and her husband, the director and actor Hanon Reznikov, set up a new theater on the Lower East Side in 2007. Hanon died in 2008. After some great theater projects and serious financial problems, the new theater closed in 2013.
There has always been an avant garde, there has always been a bohemia. I don’t think 20 years pass, whether it is Athens, Vienna or Paris, various places where there hasn’t been a hot place. I don’t think there is a big city in the world that hasn’t always had a bohemia. We are everywhere, we are eternal and infinite. As long as there are human beings, there will be someone finding where the next step is. The people who are curious about that represent the avant garde. The people who are curious about how to live in the world and not be prisoners. of its customs are the bohemians. We’ve always been around.
The 1940s and ‘50s was a germination period. What was about to happen was the sixties. In the 1950s, we were consciously interested in being an artistic community. This is missing for me today. There are a lot of great things happening in New York, but there isn’t a conscious artistic community. Artists were interested in each others’ work, respectful of each others’ work. The solidarity was strong because we were all concerned with peace. We were interested in each others’ activities, whether it was different disciplines, Gestalt therapy, spiritual movements and physical experimentations of the body, or various kinds of sexual arrangements.
The ‘40s and ‘50s was a time of breaking limits, opening up, finding your anarchistic, libertarian, open ways of doing anything--art, life, politics.
I’ve run out of money everyday of my life. We always struggled financially. Money gets in the way. I try to raise enough money to keep the theater going. We were always interested in how far we could advance the ideas that could lead to the beautiful, nonviolent revolution. Nothing else interested us.
The theaters became dependent on funding and they took it away. The reason the Living Theatre has survived for 50 years was we never had any funding, so they could never take it away from us. Sometimes I do some movies, solely to support the Living Theatre. Sometimes I do things I love, like “Enemies: A Love Story” or “Dog Day Afternoon.” Sometimes I do an homage to stupidity like “The Addams Family.” I supported the Living Theatre on that for three years. It’s worth it.
What I am searching for is the next thing. I am waiting for you to tell me what are the new styles of dance, painting and Theatre, the new kinds of poetry. I’m waiting for the beautiful, nonviolent anarchist revolution. I’m having trouble gathering critical mass.