The Living Theatre

Once called “slobs”, “animals”, “Freudians” “faggots”, today glorified as “saints”, “sages”, “noble martyrs”. Whatever we call them, members of the ensemble have already become legends, and their contribution to shaping the theatre all over the world cannot be overestimated.The Living Theater originated in a desire to create new theatre which would dare destroy the myth of American freedom, drive a wedge between Europe’s intellectual elites, as well as expose the mechanisms of ruthless systems of power on both hemispheres. Judith Malina and Julian Beck chose the physicality of the “stripped actor”, as well as simplicity, nay naivety, of the message, to reach the very bottom of the spectator’s soul and fill “the gap” between the word and the deed, the form and the matter, which has became the curse of the modern man. They decided to return to the ritual and participation. This, in turn, changes into participation in the world. Finally, they supported rebellion, the heroic attitude, intended to lead to instantaneous revolution, to “paradise now”. Those who claim that they have failed, that the lofty ideals of peaceful struggle for respecting and sanctifying life, for the right to love and happiness for every human being have ended in a fiasco, may observe that the Living Theater have never declared defeat. Despite several obstacles – from legal problems, through division of the ensemble into smaller units scattered round the world, to the most tragic event, i.e. Julian Beck’s death – the struggle has uninterruptedly continued since 1947, when this “living” theatre was born. One should not forget the symbolic dimension of its name.