“Drivel, bilge, waste!”Rush Limbaugh
A major player in the establishment of an experimental and politically engaged Off-Broadway culture, the Living Theater was founded in 1947 by Judith Malina and Julian Beck. Their early work was legendary in New York for its willingness to push boundaries: everyone who saw “Paradise Now” in 1968 remembers the piles of naked audience members and actors (some of whom were arrested for indecent exposure). They’re also important as early American adopters of playwrights like Brecht, Lorca, Pirandello, William Carlos Williams and Gertrude Stein. After four of their New York theaters were closed by government bureaucracies, the troupe went nomadic, embarking on what became a forty-year tour of Europe and the world. Their sacred text is French playwright Antonin Artaud’s manifesto The Theater and Its Double, which exalts immediate emotional experience. Although they’ve frequently performed political theater in unconventional venues like prisons and steel mills, today they have a home again in the Lower East Side.