Posts Tagged ‘ La MaMa E.T.C. ’

Judith Malina’s “No Place To Hide”

The Living Theatre might be the longest-running avantgarde theater company in the world. In its 67th season now, founder and director Judith Malina is still going strong with a new piece that just opened in Manhattan: “No Place To Hide,” and working on another one, “The Triumph of Time,” for her fellow-actors in residence at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in New Jersey.

Here is an excellent photo essay by Gaia Squarci of Judith in action, accompanied by a text of Chelsea Matiash for the Wall Street Journal blog, as well as two photographs by theworldforacountry of the event mentioned in the blog, a work-in-progress presentation at The Whitney Museum of American Art (during the Rituals of Rented Island exhibition) of “The Chairs,” by multi-media artist and theater director Theodora Skipitares.

Judith Malina after the performance of The Chairs, a work-in-progress presented at The Whitney Museum of American Art

Judith Malina after the performance of “The Chairs”, a work-in-progress presented at The Whitney Museum of American Art

Judith Chairs 2

Theodora Skipitares in artist talk at The Whitney Museum of American Art, after the performance of “The Chairs.” In background, left, narrator Judith Malina

http://blogs.wsj.com/photojournal/2014/03/19/judith-malinas-living-theatre-to-debut-no-place-to-hide/?mod=WSJBlog Living Theatre to Debut Judith Malina’s “No Place To Hide”By Chelsea Matiash When the Living Theatre gave up its home on the Lower East Side in 2013, it appeared to be the end of an era. Unable to pay the rent, the company closed is doors and packed the bags of its ailing longtime leader, Judith Malina. Ms. Malina, the group’s co-founder and artistic director, relocated from her apartment above the performance space to the Lillian Booth Actors Home, an assisted-living and nursing-care facility for entertainment professionals in Englewood, N.J. Ms. Malina, 87, suffers from emphysema but continues to write from her new home, where members of the group visit her often. Photographer Gaia Squarci recently spent time with Ms. Malina and previewed her latest play as part of a project documenting the Living Theatre and its co-founder. Despite the struggles of the past year, Ms. Malina’s story is one of resilience, Ms. Squarci said. She described her first encounter with Ms. Malina this winter during a show at the Whitney Museum. “Judith was sitting on a chair all dressed in black, black hair lightly turning white close to the scalp, wide-open eyes and bright pink nails,” Ms. Squarci recalled. ”She looked small and frail from a distance,” but she was the center of a flurry of handshakes and smiles. “She doesn’t hide her fragilities,” she said. Since that encounter, she has followed the Living Theatre during a transitional period. The experimental company, whose performances are rooted in social change, politics and the avant-garde, is no stranger to losing its home. In the 1950s and ’60s, the group’s unconventional performances led to the closing by authorities of all the Living Theatre’s New York venues, after which it began a new existence as a touring ensemble, traveling internationally. Over the years, the company reinvented itself, presenting performances in different venues and spaces before settling at the Clinton Street Theater– its first permanent home since 1993. Ms. Malina will direct when the company debuts her new play, “No Place to Hide,” at Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center on Wednesday, marking the Living Theatre’s first production since losing its space on Clinton Street. The production, presented as a work in progress, explores “the reasons and consequences of hiding” and invites audience participation. Said Brad Burgess, the executive producer: “We want to help the public and ourselves confront where we’ve come from, what we’ve done to each other, and expose ways of making things better through what we do for each other.” Looking into the future, Ms. Malina said one of her plays, “The Triumph of Time,” will explore the positive aspects of aging, in contrast to “the views of society.” She said she hopes to involve other older actors living at the Lillian Booth Actors Home. Aging “is when you become who you really are and what you’ve been building up to,” she said. “You’re more complete.” Below, Ms. Sqaurci’s photographs provide an inside look at the latest work of Ms. Malina and her company.

Judith Malina sat back in her room at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, N.J.

Gaia Squarci for The Wall Street Journal
Judith Malina sat back in her room at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, N.J.

Ms. Malina penciled in an item on her calendar

Gaia Squarci for the Wall Street Journal
Ms. Malina penciled in an item on her calendar

Gaia Squarci for The Wall Street Journal Performers worked during a rehearsal of the Living Theatre Company directed by Ms. Malina at La MaMa rehearsal studios.

Gaia Squarci for The Wall Street Journal
Performers worked during a rehearsal of the Living Theatre Company directed by Ms. Malina at La MaMa rehearsal studios.

Gaia Squarci for The Wall Street Journal Ms. Malina is helped down the stairs following rehearsal.

Gaia Squarci for The Wall Street Journal
Ms. Malina is helped down the stairs following rehearsal.

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Mickery and La MaMa

The histories of Ellen Stewart’s La MaMa E.T.C. (Experimental Theater Club) in New York and the Mickery Theatre in Amsterdam are intertwined. Both La MaMa and the Mickery provided a home base for experimenters in the theatre from the sixties onwards. Just like with La MaMa, once you had worked at the Mickery, you were part of that family, you belonged to a group of people that shared a very specific collective history. La MaMa and the Mickery became the wellsprings of an internationally branched-out network of creators in the theatre.
Mickery was the brainchild of Ritsaert ten Cate, a rebel who found a cause in the budding avant-garde theater scene of the ‘60’s. With money inherited from his textile-manufacturing family, Ritsaert ten Cate set up shop at a farmhouse in Loenersloot, about 13 miles outside Amsterdam. He was an avid collector of “arte povera” and used the vast barn space as a gallery. (The parallels with Ellen’s First Street La MaMa Galleria are clear.) When Ellen Stewart got wind of Ritsaert’s new theatre space, she called him up to establish a tour date and residency for her La MaMa troupe, wedged between performances at Eugenio Barba’s theatre in Holstebrö and the Edinburgh Festival in 1967.
Her handwritten confirmation said:
“We will arrive with 3 buses, you will pay the actors a fee of $60 for each performance, plus a per diem, and you will make sure that they can sleep somewhere. We will perform Tom Paine, Part One, and we will perform each play two times. We will also need to rehearse. Thank you, Ellen Stewart”
During their two week-residency in Loenersloot, the company performed the first part of Tom Paine, while Tom O’Horgan readied Part Two with them for the Edinburgh Festival. Some actors slept in the farmhouse and others were hosted by neighbors. The Dutch press flocked to the Mickery barn and was unanimously flabbergasted by the spectacle, resulting in hundreds of theatergoers and curiosity seekers following in their tracks.
Over the years La MaMa revisited the Mickery – which in the early ‘70’s had relocated to an abandoned cinema in the center of Amsterdam – with 12 productions.
Unlike La MaMa E.T.C., still going strong and in its fiftieth anniversary year, Mickery closed its activities after some 800 productions in 1991.
Ellen Stewart and Ritsaert ten Cate have passed away, but not before passing on the commitment and passion to experiment.

Ellen Stewart and Ritsaert ten Cate. The mirror behind Ritsaert ten Cate has a quote from Heiner Müller "Enduring Is Also A Choice"

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