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Living Theatre Records

 Collection
Call Number: Multiple call numbers

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of general files, correspondence, subject files, publicity files, scripts, journals, writings, personal papers, photographs, audiovisual material, and born digital materials relating to The Living Theatre, its founders, Julian Beck and Judith Malina, and its co-director, Hanon Reznikov. The collection documents the adminstration of the theater, its stage productions, and its relationship to other avant-garde and radical cultural and political movements in the United States and Europe during the time period from the 1960s to the present. Also included are extensive diaries and journals of Judith Malina and Julian Beck, as well as their personal papers and writings. The photographs and audio-visual material largely document specific productions.

Dates

  • 1815-2012
  • Majority of material found within circa 1947-2012

Creator

Language

English

Conditions Governing Access

In-process material. This collection is closed to researchers until processing is completed. For further information, consult Access Services.

Uncat MSS 1006 Boxes 268-285, 297-298 (audiovisual material): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Uncat MSS 1309 Boxes 211-216 (audiovisual material): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Uncat MSS 1309 Boxes 217-221 (digital media): Restricted fragile material. Access copies of digital files may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Living Theatre Records is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Morgan & Rosenthal on the Alfred Z. Baker, Jr. Fund and Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 2008, and from Boo-Hooray on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund and the Adele Gutman Nathan Theatrical Collection Fund, 2013.

Arrangement

Organized into two groupings: March 2008 Acquisition; and August 2013 Acquisition.

Extent

529.85 Linear Feet ((564 boxes) + 3 rolls, 6 broadside, and 4 art)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.livingtheatre

Overview

The collection consists of general files, correspondence, subject files, publicity files, scripts, journals, writings, personal papers, photographs, audiovisual material, and born digital materials relating to The Living Theatre, its founders, Julian Beck and Judith Malina, and its co-director, Hanon Reznikov. The collection documents the adminstration of the theater, its stage productions, and its relationship to other avant-garde and radical cultural and political movements in the United States and Europe during the time period from the 1960s to the present. Also included are extensive diaries and journals of Judith Malina and Julian Beck, as well as their personal papers and writings. The photographs and audio-visual material largely document specific productions.

The Living Theatre

Founded in 1947 as an imaginative alternative to the commercial theater by Judith Malina, the German-born student of Erwin Piscator, and Julian Beck, an abstract expressionist painter of the New York School, The Living Theatre 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.

During the 1950's and early 1960's 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 European writers rarely produced in America, including Cocteau, Lorca, Brecht and Pirandello. Best remembered among these productions, which marked the start of the Off-Broadway movement, were Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, Tonight We Improvise, Many Loves, The Connection and The Brig.

In the mid-1960's, the company began a new life as a nomadic touring ensemble. In Europe, they evolved into a collective, living and working together toward the creation of a new form of nonfictional acting based on the actor's political and physical commitment to using the theater as a medium for furthering social change. The landmark achievements of this period include Mysteries and Smaller Pieces, Antigone, Frankenstein and Paradise Now.

In the 1970's, The Living Theatre began to create The Legacy of Cain, a cycle of plays for non-traditional venues. From the prisons of Brazil to the gates of the Pittsburgh steel mills, and from the slums of Palermo to the schools of New York City, the company offered these plays, which include Six Public Acts, The Money Tower, Seven Meditations on Political Sado-Masochism, Turning the Earth and the Strike Support Oratorium free of charge to the broadest of all possible audiences.

The 1980's saw the group return to the theater, where they developed new participatory techniques that enable the audience to first rehearse with the company and then join them on stage as fellow performers. These plays include Prometheus at the Winter Palace, The Yellow Methuselah and The Archaeology of Sleep.

Following the death of Julian Beck in 1985, co-founder Judith Malina and the company’s new director, veteran Hanon Reznikov, who first encountered The Living Theatre while a student at Yale in 1968, opened a new performing space in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, producing a steady stream of innovative works including The Tablets, I and I, The Body of God, Humanity, Rules of Civility, Waste, Echoes of Justice, and The Zero Method. After the closing of the Third Street space in 1993, the company went on to create Anarchia, Utopia and Capital Changes in other New York City venues.

In 1999, with funds from the European Union, they renovated a 1650 Palazzo Spinola in Rocchetta Ligure, Italy and reopened it as the Centro Living Europa, a residence and working space for the company’s European programs. There they created Resistenza, a dramatization of the local inhabitants’ historical resistance to the German occupation of 1943-45. In recent years, the company has also been performing Resist Now!, a play for anti-globalization demonstrations both in Europe and the U.S. A month-long collaboration with local theater artists in Lebanon in 2001 resulted in the creation of a site-specific play about the abuse of political detainees in the notorious former prison at Khiam.

The Living Theatre has opened a new theatre at 21 Clinton Street, presenting The Brig. They continue also to present NO SIR!, a play for the street against military recruitment.

Historical note comes from The Living Theatre website: http://www.livingtheatre.org/history.html.

Processing Information

This collection is closed during processing and a new finding aid will be published when processing is completed.
Title
Guide to the Living Theatre Records
Author
by Leigh Golden and Jennifer Meehan
Date
2008
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2015-06: August 2013 Acquisition added.
  • 2010-02-10: Transformed with yale.addEadidUrl.xsl. Adds @url with handle for finding aid. Overwrites @url if already present.
  • 2016-04: Rehoused journals in Uncat MSS 1006, resulting in addition of 11 boxes (Boxes 341-351.

Repository Details

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977