Living on Third Street

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From four years in the late 80s, here are plays of the Living Theatre, a ground-breaking internationally known theatre troupe. This time period was a cultural and political apex in the East Village in New York, where the Theatre was (and is) housed. Edited by Cindy Rosenthal, anarchist playwright, professor, and author, who says this about her book:

In addition to the five performance texts in this volume (available to scholars and practitioners for the first time), the photographs, song sheets, design sketches, interviews, essays and diary excerpts from associate artists and company members, as well as the book's appendix... provide a detailed multi-faceted record of the creativity and the diversity of forms, styles and artists inside the Third Street Theatre.

Judith Malina and Julian Beck founded the Living Theatre as an alternative to the commercial theater in 1947, and since then it has staged nearly a hundred productions performed in eight languages in 28 countries on five continents - a unique body of work that has influenced theater the world over.

From its conception, The Living Theatre was dedicated to transforming the organization of power within society from a competitive, hierarchical structure to cooperative and communal expression. The troupe attempts to do so by counteracting complacency in the audience through direct spectacle. They oppose the commercial orientation of Broadway productions and have contributed to the off-Broadway theater movement in New York City, staging poetic dramas written almost exclusively by playwrights not directly affiliated with the troupe.

The primordial text for The Living Theatre is The Theater and Its Double, an anthology of essays written by Antonin Artaud, the French playwright. It was published in France in 1937 and by the Grove Press in the U.S. in 1958. This work deeply influenced Julian Beck, a painter of abstract expressionist works. The troupe reflects Artaud's influence by staging multimedia plays designed to exhibit his metaphysical Theatre of Cruelty. In these performances, the actors attempt to dissolve the fourth wall between themselves and the spectators.

During the 1950s and early 1960s in New York, The Living Theatre pioneered the unconventional staging of poetic drama - the plays of American writers like Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Paul Goodman, Kenneth Rexroth and John Ashbery, as well as Europeans rarely produced in America: Cocteau, Lorca, Brecht and Pirandello.

Currently the Theatre is struggling to maintain itself in the Lower East Side. If you're interested in helping - go to

Table of Contents

List of Figures


Foreword by James Reznick

Preface by Cindy Rosenthal

Introduction by Hanon Reznikov

Chapter 1: The Tablets

Essay by Hanon Reznikov / Performance text adopted for the theatre by Hanon Reznikov from poems by Armand Schwerner / Excerpt from Judith Malina's diary / Excerpt from a dialogue between Schwerner and Reznikov

Chapter 2: Tumult, or Clearing the Streets

Essay by Hanon Reznikov / Performance text a collective creation of The Living Theatre

Chapter 3: IandI

Essay by Hanon Reznikov / Excerpts from Judith Malina's diary / Essay by Beate Bennett

Chapter 4: The Body of God

Essay by Hanon Reznikov / Performance text a collective creation of The Living Theatre

Chapter 5: German Requiem

Essay by Hanon Reznikov

Chapter 6: The Rules of Civility

Essay by Hanon Reznikov / Performance text adapted for the theatre by Hanon Reznikov from writings by George Washington

Chapter 7: Waste

Essay by Hanon Reznikov / Excerpt from Judith Malina's diary

Chapter 8: The Zero Method

Essay by Hanon Reznikov / Performance text by Hanon Reznikov / Headlines used in production

Chapter 9: The Closing of the Theatre, Echoes of Justice

Essay by Hanon Reznikov

Appendix: Chronological List of Events

About the Contributors

Index of Names