Living Theatre to Play


Fifth Estate # 67, November 28-December 11, 1968

The Living Theatre, triumphantly poised at the controversial edge of the avant-garde theatrical movement, will sweep into Detroit to take the chill off December.

The repertory troupe known as America’s most original and acclaimed by critics as the most artistic, Julian Beck and his energetic band will present three different productions December 12, 13, 14.

“Mysteries and Smaller Pieces” will be performed Thursday (Dec. 12) “Antigone” on Friday (Dec. 13) and “Frankenstein” Saturday evening (Dec. 14). All performances will begin at 8:30 pm in the Detroit Institute of Arts Auditorium.

Founded in 1951 by Julian Beck and his wife. Judith Malina. The Living Theatre at once created interest and stormy indignation. The 34-member troupe has been the most adventuresome and daring radical ensemble in this country leading to self-imposed exile in Europe four years from a problem with the Internal Revenue Service.

Each of the productions’ to be performed here is a newly created work, receiving typical praise and censure from European critics and audiences. Some Europeans considered the troupe’s dramatic presentations to be secondary In significance to the Beck’s concern with what’s wrong with our world. Beck would like to pick up the carrying hint along in the vivid, powerful dramatization of man and his universe.

“Mysteries and Smaller Pieces” is a series of apparently unrelated sections. These include an abstract-dance version of “The Brig,” yoga exercises, a raga, a communal-chord, “Street Songs by Jackson MacLow,” an incense burning ritual with the audience: tableaux-vivants, freeform mind-body games of sound and movement, and an experiencing of Artaud’s essay, “The Theatre and the Plague ” The sense of mysteries is akin to the relationship between the degree of awareness that is developed in the participants (actors and audience).

“Frankenstein” weaves the familiar story by Mary Shelley and pop-culture images of the movies in a structure into. grating these sources with an anthology of theatre-forms: levitation, children’s Green-myth theatre, shadow-play, Buddha legends, Grand-Guignol, circus, magic show, mime, collage, silence, etc.

The ethical and moral problems involved in creating an artificial man becomes the central political-social-psychic question facing contemporary society.

“How can we end human suffering?” The set itself, a huge three tiered scaffolding with 15 unit-cell open playing areas, is as much actor as the cast, who create in it hundreds of entities of the ancient and modem world.

For the Living Theatre’s “Antigone” Judith Malina has translated Brecht’s version of Hoelderlin’s adaptation of Sophocles’s play so that the values of the language arc particularly relevant to the act of civil disobedience in our time.

Tickets are available at Hudson’s, Grinnell’s, the Wayne State University ticket office, and the Detroit Institute of Arts ticket office. All seats are reserved at $3.50 and $4.50.