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HISTORY

The Summary and credits for this unviewed film were based on reviews in the 5 Feb 1984 NYT, the 7 Feb 1984 Village Voice, the 7 Mar 1984 Var, and the 6 Sep 1984 LAT.
       According to NYT, the documentary includes the following acknowledgements: "Living Theatre productions directed by Judith Malina and Julian Beck. 'The Yellow Methuselah' directed by Hanon Reznikov. Texts from 'The Diaries of Judith Malina' and 'The Life of the Theatre' by Julian Beck."
       European locations for the performance clips in the documentary included Italy, France, and Germany. The picture was filmed with hand-held cameras and includes black and white sequences, as well as newsreel footage.
       The documentary’s one-week opening at the 8th Street Playhouse in New York City coincided with the Living Theatre’s first stage production in the U.S. since 1969, when co-founders Julian Beck and Judith Malina became self-imposed exiles in Europe due to complications with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) Living Theatre archive, the troupe performed Julian Beck’s The Archeology of Sleep, as well as Antigone, The Yellow Methuselah, and The One and the Many, at the Joyce Theater.
       The film’s Los Angeles, CA, premiere on 6 Sep 1984 at the Nuart Theatre was a fundraiser for Julian Beck, who was suffering from cancer. The documentary continued its run at the Nuart through 10 Sep 1984. Beck died one year later at age sixty. The Archeology of Sleep was his last play.
       The NYPL archive and Beck’s 17 Sep 1985 ... More Less

The Summary and credits for this unviewed film were based on reviews in the 5 Feb 1984 NYT, the 7 Feb 1984 Village Voice, the 7 Mar 1984 Var, and the 6 Sep 1984 LAT.
       According to NYT, the documentary includes the following acknowledgements: "Living Theatre productions directed by Judith Malina and Julian Beck. 'The Yellow Methuselah' directed by Hanon Reznikov. Texts from 'The Diaries of Judith Malina' and 'The Life of the Theatre' by Julian Beck."
       European locations for the performance clips in the documentary included Italy, France, and Germany. The picture was filmed with hand-held cameras and includes black and white sequences, as well as newsreel footage.
       The documentary’s one-week opening at the 8th Street Playhouse in New York City coincided with the Living Theatre’s first stage production in the U.S. since 1969, when co-founders Julian Beck and Judith Malina became self-imposed exiles in Europe due to complications with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) Living Theatre archive, the troupe performed Julian Beck’s The Archeology of Sleep, as well as Antigone, The Yellow Methuselah, and The One and the Many, at the Joyce Theater.
       The film’s Los Angeles, CA, premiere on 6 Sep 1984 at the Nuart Theatre was a fundraiser for Julian Beck, who was suffering from cancer. The documentary continued its run at the Nuart through 10 Sep 1984. Beck died one year later at age sixty. The Archeology of Sleep was his last play.
       The NYPL archive and Beck’s 17 Sep 1985 NYT obituary clarified the nature of Beck and Malina’s dispute with the IRS and the reason for their departure from the U.S. In the early 1960s, the Living Theatre’s NYC venue on 14th Street was shut down by the IRS because Beck and Malina owed back taxes of up to $23,000, and in 1964, a Federal Grand Jury indicted the couple for their protests against the eviction. Upon receiving a guilty verdict, the couple was permitted to leave the country for pre-scheduled shows in England before serving their sentences. After returning to the U.S. and serving time in early 1965, Beck and Malina left the country again, joined their troupe in Europe, and became self-exiled. They were later imprisoned in Brazil for possession of marijuana, then returned to America, performing in the streets of Pittsburgh, PA. In 1975, the couple brought the Living Theatre back to Europe, and made their home base in Rome, Italy. Judith Malina told the NYT that she and her husband had long been persecuted for their anti-establishment beliefs and radical performances. She estimated that they were imprisoned on twelve separate occasions for petty crimes such as refusing to “take part in a civil defense drill” and for indecent exposure during a 1969 performance of Paradise Now in New Haven, CT. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
LA Weekly
31 Aug--6 Sep 1984.
---
Los Angeles Times
6 Sep 1984
p. 6.
New York Times
5 Feb 1984
p. 47.
New York Times
17 Sep 1985.
---
Variety
7 Mar 1984
p. 370.
Village Voice
7 Feb 1984.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl footage
Addl footage
Addl footage
Addl footage
Addl footage
Addl footage
Addl footage
Addl footage
Addl footage
Addl footage
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
MUSIC
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
Consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the books The Diaries of Judith Malina by Judith Malina (New York, 1984) and The Life of the Theatre by Julian Beck (San Francisco, 1972).
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 February 1984
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 3 February 1984
Los Angeles opening: 6 September 1984
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
97
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In Rome, Italy, actor Julian Beck and his wife, Judith Malina, discuss “The Living Theatre,” a New York City avant-garde ensemble that they co-founded in 1947. For over thirty-five years, the couple staged anti-establishment, confrontational performances that scrutinized perceptions of reality and the underbelly of human existence. Beck and Malina based the Living Theatre’s mission on the words of their mentor, Antonin Artaud, who stated in The Theater and Its Double (1958): “…if there is one hellish, truly accursed thing in our time, it is our artistic dallying with forms, when instead we should become as victims burning at the stake, signaling each other through the flames.” In 1964, the Living Theatre was shut down due to tax issues, and by 1969, Beck and Malina were touring Europe in self-imposed exile before settling in Rome. The two speak about their acts of civil disobedience, subversive behavior, and dedication to the belief that theater and politics are inseparable. Footage of the couple at home, and traveling around Europe, is intercut with film clips of their stage productions, including their first show, Connection, as well as Mysteries, Frankenstein, Antigone, ... +


In Rome, Italy, actor Julian Beck and his wife, Judith Malina, discuss “The Living Theatre,” a New York City avant-garde ensemble that they co-founded in 1947. For over thirty-five years, the couple staged anti-establishment, confrontational performances that scrutinized perceptions of reality and the underbelly of human existence. Beck and Malina based the Living Theatre’s mission on the words of their mentor, Antonin Artaud, who stated in The Theater and Its Double (1958): “…if there is one hellish, truly accursed thing in our time, it is our artistic dallying with forms, when instead we should become as victims burning at the stake, signaling each other through the flames.” In 1964, the Living Theatre was shut down due to tax issues, and by 1969, Beck and Malina were touring Europe in self-imposed exile before settling in Rome. The two speak about their acts of civil disobedience, subversive behavior, and dedication to the belief that theater and politics are inseparable. Footage of the couple at home, and traveling around Europe, is intercut with film clips of their stage productions, including their first show, Connection, as well as Mysteries, Frankenstein, Antigone, Brig, The Mad House Play, Dismantling of the Money Tower, The Yellow Mathuselah, and a controversial rendition of Paradise Now, which involved audience members getting on stage and removing their clothes. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.