The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Judith Malina

Judith Malina

Co-Founder of The Living Theatre, Actress, Director
Born on Friday, June 4, 1926
Died on Friday, April 10, 2015

Interviewed on: Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Location: Her Home
Interviewed by: Brad Burgess
Interview #8
Photo Credit: Ellen Wallenstein
"Sometimes it's almost hard to tell a performance from a protest, you know? Sometimes they overlap a little bit."
Judith Malina Highlights
Video Length: 5 minutes, 24 seconds
Judith Malina Interview
Video Length: 1 hour, 21 minutes

Judith Malina was an actress, director, and co-founder of The Living Theatre with husband Julian Beck. The company, founded in 1947 as an imaginative and political alternative to commercial theater, staged nearly 100 productions and performed in eight languages in 28 countries on five continents. Malina’s Off-Off-Broadway credits include: THE THEATER OF CHANCE (1960), IN THE JUNGLE OF CITIES (1960), THE CONNECTION (1961), THE APPLE (1961),MAN IS MAN (1962), THE BRIG (1963), THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF SLEEP (1964), THE YELLOW METHUSELAH (1984), THE ONE AND THE MANY (1984), THE ANTIGONE OF SOPHOKLES (1984), and RICHARD II (1987). She was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2008, she was bestowed the Artistic Achievement Award from the New York Innovative Theater Awards “in recognition of her unabashed pioneering spirit and unyielding dedication to her craft and the Off-Off-Broadway community.”

Malina was born in Germany but grew up in New York City. Born to Jewish parents (an actress and a rabbi), Judith was raised seeing the importance of political theatre. She attended the New School for Social Research in theatre and studied under Erwin Piscator. In 1963, The Living Theatre was suspended by the IRS for five years over tax problems, so Beck and Malina left the United States. Although the charges were later proven baseless, the company’s tour of Europe in those five years produced their most radical and provocative works, culminating in the book “Paradise Now” (1971).

Mentioned in Interview

Erwin Piscator, Julian Beck, Kenneth H. Brown, Hanon Reznikov, Tom Walker, Joseph Chaikin, Jack Gelber, Jackie McLean, Freddie Redd, Paul Goodman, Stella Adler, Herbert Berghof, Lee Strasberg, Albert Einstein, Maria Ley, Antonin Artaud, John Mercer, Allen Ginsberg, Dorothy Day, Al Pacino, Jim Morrison, Peggy Guggenheim, Tennessee Williams, The Provincetown Playhouse, The Living Theatre, The New School, THE BRIG, THE CONNECTION