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to: 1951: FIRST PERFORMANCES OF THE LIVING THEATRE IN NEW YORK

First performances of the Living Theatre

From Playing Underground: A Critical History of the 1960s Off-Off-Broadway Movement by Stephen J. Bottoms:

"... the Living Theatre... led by Judith Malina and her husband Julian Beck - fought its way past seemingly insuperable obstacles to become the single most influential American company of its era... the Becks' first attempted to establish a performance space, in 1948, by converting an intimate basement room on Wooster Street into a theater that would accommodate no more than thirty seats. These plans had to be abandoned, however, when the city concluded from their license application that this was to be a cover for a brothel... The Becks subsequently began to plan performances for the living room of their own Upper West Side apartment, and as many 'private guests' as they could squeeze in. The Living Theatre thus premiered with 'theater-in-the-room' in 1951, before presenting its first public productions later that year in the more professional surroundings of the Cherry Lane Theatre, which they rented using money recently inherited by Beck... but the residency was brought to an abrupt end when, three nights into Ubu Roi, the fire department closed the show for using flammable set materials. The Cherry Lane's new owner took this as an excuse to terminate their contract. After another period of hiatus, the company relocated to another nontheater space - a large loft, way uptown at One Hundredth Street and Broadway - where, during 1954 and 1955, they produced plays... before being closed again for building code violations... the company relaunched itself in January 1959, in a new theater that they themselves had created within the structure of an old department store at Fourteenth Street and Sixth Avenue... In 1963... the Living Theater building was seized by the Internal Revenue Service for nonpayment of taxes... The Becks and a committed, core group of company members subsequently went into self-imposed exile in Europe, where, as a traveling community, they went on to create their most famous works. (SB21-31)

to: 1951: FIRST PERFORMANCES OF THE LIVING THEATRE IN NEW YORK