Scope and arrangement
The records of the Living Theatre span the years 1945-1991 and document the development of the company from its earliest performances, through its period of exile in Europe and work in Brazil, to its contemporary performances at the permanent theater in New York City. The records include correspondence, financial papers, legal papers, production files, notebooks and calendars, scripts, programs, photographs, promotional materials, clippings, and oversize files. There are a few family letters present, but little in the collection can be categorized as personal papers. However, because the Living Theatre was so much a part of their lives, the records mirror a personal history of Judith Malina and Julian Beck through their work in developing this unique form of theater.
The Living Theatre records are arranged in thirteen series:
- 1946-19642 linear feet (5 boxes)
General correspondence, incoming and outgoing, is arranged chronologically. Included are letters regarding production rights, requests for publicity, invitations to critics, appeals for funds, and requests for tickets. The correspondence documents many aspects of managing the Living Theatre, encompassing fund raising, translations of works to be performed, literary rights and royalties, and exchanges with critics, subscribers, and audiences. Early correspondence, ca. 1946-1948 includes letters to and from Judith Malina and Julian Beck regarding an announcement they placed in the Saturday Review of Literature to find people for their new theater. There are also copies of letters from Malina and Beck to notable theater people asking for interviews and a chance to discuss their plans for creating a new and unique theater group. Subjects also include plans for various theater locations, European tours and the possibility of starting a school. The correspondence includes letters to and from friends, colleagues, critics, actors, supporters, literary agents, translators, and audience members. Both personal matters and business concerns are discussed.
Among the correspondents (some of these are represented by only one or two letters) are: Marta Abba, Joseph Campbell, Grant Code, Glyn Collins, Jean Erdman, Claude Fredericks, Paul Goodman, H.B. Lutz, Willard Maas, Jackson MacLow, Gerhard Nellhaus, Fritz Perls, Kenneth Rexroth and Consuelo Sides. Some of the outgoing letters were written by Living Theatre staff, including Lawrence Kornfeld and James Spicer, both of whom worked as general managers of the Living Theatre.
- 1946-19641 box
Correspondence with playwrights, primarily incoming, regarding plays submitted for consideration by the Living Theatre.
- 1949-19668 boxes
Financial papers include bills and related correspondence, fundraising materials, memberships, petty cash, book sales, ledgers and accounts documenting business aspects of the Living Theatre.
- 1947-19631 box
Contains correspondence with leases and contracts for various premises occupied by The Living Theatre including the Cherry Lane Theatre, the 100th Street Loft and the 14th Street theater. The papers include information on fire inspections, city licenses and permits, architectural plans and alterations. Four folders of material are related to business with the Wyckoff-Bent Corporation, landlords for the 14th Street theater. Oversized plans and blueprints can be found in the oversized series.
- 1958-19634 folders
Insurance papers, include correspondence related to premiums and claims, for policies covering workmen's compensations, disability, theft, etc.
- 1951-19542 folders
Legal papers include miscellaneous contracts and documents, court papers and the certificate of incorporation for the Living Theatre. Note: contracts and some legal documents can also be found in other series--notably, contracts with actors and musicians in the Theatre Management Papers, and lawsuits regarding nonpayment of bills in the Financial Papers.
- 1947-199110 boxes
Theatre Management Papers include correspondence, financial records, contracts with actors, resumes, notebooks and calendars and files on the Living Theatre Studio. The papers have been organized in the following sub-series: Administrative files, Box office records, Actors' contracts, Payroll records, Resumes/Photographs, Correspondence (Actors' Equity), The Living Theatre Studio (School), Guest books, Notebooks and calendars.
- 1948-19838 linear feet (22 boxes)
Production files are arranged in chronological order with the year in brackets indicating the date of the opening. The documentation for each production varies in scope and may include notes, sketches, scripts, directing books, programs, program copy, royalty statements, budgets, prop lists, costume measurements, rehearsal schedules, lists of critics invited for opening night, press clippings and correspondence. The later works (from the 1970s and 1980s) are represented by much more extensive documentation than the earlier productions. Also, many of the directing books for the earlier plays are photocopies, which are often difficult to read. While this series represents Living Theatre productions almost exclusively, there are a few files for works designed or directed by Judith Malina and Julian Beck which were not produced by the Living Theatre. Production files are included for the following works: The Infernal Machine ; The Thirteenth God [March, 1951]; Theatre in the Room: Childish Jokes: Crying Backstage, Ladies' Voices, He Who Says Yes and He Who Says No, The Dialogue of the Young Man and the Manikin [August, 1951]; Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights [December, 1951]; Beyond the Mountains [December, 1951]; Desire Trapped by the Tail and Sweeney Agonistes [March, 1952]; Faustina [May, 1952]; Ubu the King [August, 1952]; The Heroes [August, 1952]; Dramatic workshop productions [1952-1953] - never realized; The Spook Sonata[June, 1954]; Orpheus [September, 1954]; The Idiot King [December, 1954]; Tonight We Improvise [February, 1955 & November, 1959]; Phedre[May, 1955]; The Young Disciple [October, 1955]; Dramatic readings ; The Curious Fern and Voices for a Mirror [June, 1957]; Many Loves [January, 1959]; The Cave at Machpelah [June, 1959]; The Connection [July, 1959]; The Theatre of Chance: Women of Trachis, The Marrying Maiden [June, 1960]; In the Jungle of the Cities [December, 1960]; The Birthday Party  - not produced; The Apple [December, 1961]; Man is Man [September, 1962]; The Brig [May, 1963]; Readings: Futz, Potsy [Sept.-Oct., 1963]; Mysteries and Smaller Pieces [October, 1964]; The Maids [February, 1965]; Frankenstein [September, 1965]; Antigone [February, 1967]; The Money Tower ; The Legacy of Cain ; Six Public Acts; The One and the Many ; The Yellow Methuselah ; and The Archaeology of Sleep . The Legacy of Cain is a cycle of plays and several of the component pieces have also been given separate files, for example, The Money Tower and Six Public Acts.
- 1970-19711 linear foot (3 boxes)
This series documents the work of the Living Theatre in Brazil and includes correspondence, clippings, work on The Legacy of Cain, notebooks, photographs, and material relating to the arrest of Judith Malina, Julian Beck and other members of the troupe. The papers relating to the imprisonment of Malina and Beck include many letters from family and friends, defense fund files, trial transcripts and statements to the court, diaries, prison notes and papers, and clippings. Some of the correspondence and papers are in Portuguese as are most of the clippings. Many of the Brazilian newspaper clippings are on microfilm and can be read on a fiche reader. The oversized series contains a town map and program regarding the performance of The Legacy of Cain and nine photographs of locations in Brazil.
- 1945-19472 boxes
Contains a one volume notebook diary Judith Malina wrote while studying with Erwin Piscator at the New School. Also includes her paper on theater management and a directing book for Medea. The original notebook is fragile and has been copied for preservation. Only the photocopy is available for researchers.
- 1951-19912 linear feet (6 boxes)
Arranged chronologically (with gaps), these materials document the life of the Living Theatre from its simplest beginnings through 1991. Included are press releases, promotional material, photocopied clippings, program ideas and designs, mock-up programs, flyers and leaflets.
- ca. 1951-19911 box
These programs are arranged chronologically with the bulk of the dates ranging from 1951-1966. Flyers and leaflets are also included. One file contains German programs unrelated to the Living Theatre, ca. 1966.
- 1945-19871.2 linear feet (3 oversized boxes)
Arranged by size, this series contains five posters from various Living Theatre performances including The Connection. There are floor plans and blueprints from the Cherry Lane and 14th Street theaters, original drawings by Judith Malina and Julian Beck, the lighting plan for The Yellow Methuselah, and the music score for The One and the Many.