The Living Theatre Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

Harold Clurman (review date 1968)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Clurman, Harold. Review of The Living Theatre. Nation 207, no. 14 (28 October 1968): 445.

[In the following review, Clurman argues that The Living Theatre is a cult, not a theater.]

There are more than a few people in Europe and America who believe that the company known as The Living Theatre (Brooklyn Academy of Music) is making a vital contribution to the theatre. Having seen three of its four presentations I judge that Le Living (as the French call it) is more concerned with “living” than with theatre.

The company disarms criticism. Its productions are a way of life, closer to religious manifestations than to either art or...

(The entire section is 795 words.)

Richard Gilman (essay date 1968)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Gilman, Richard. “It's a Show.” New Republic 159, no. 19 (9 November 1968): 29ff.

[In the following essay, Gilman criticizes The Living Theatre for bad acting, bad faith, and childishness.]

When the Living Theatre left America for Europe four years ago I was among those who wished them well in their self-exile and, as it seemed to me, their opportunity to find out what they were really about. I'd always been troubled by them, having admired them more, I suspect, in theory than as an actuality. I defended them as often because of their detractors—most of whom represented everything sterile and commonplace in the theatre—as because of their own...

(The entire section is 2366 words.)

Bruce Cutler (essay date 1977)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Cutler, Bruce. “Two Plays of the Living Theatre: The Difficult Wisdom of Nothing.” Wichita State University Bulletin 53, no. 3 (August 1977): 3–21.

[In the following essay, Cutler attempts to define the techniques of The Living Theatre through an anatomy of the technique of two of its experimental pieces.]

It is not an easy task to give a single name to recent developments in American theater, for generalizations are usually most effective when they are made retrospectively, and certainly it is too early to make definitive judgments about American theater in the 1960's. Yet movements such as Julian Beck's Living Theatre, and playwrights such as Jack...

(The entire section is 8056 words.)

Arthur Sainer (essay date 1985)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Sainer, Arthur. “The Several Stages of the Embattled Living Theatre.” Theater 16, no. 2 (spring 1985): 52–7.

[In the following essay, Sainer traces the shifting reliance The Living Theatre has had on the pre-written text as the basis for its productions.]

By the winter of '84-'85, the Living Theatre had made the decision to settle (if that is the word) once again in New York City. Until the previous summer, it had hopes of establishing a two-cities base, performing six months in Paris and six months in New York, but events, not the least of which is Julian Beck's serious illness, have forced the company to reappraise what is possible. Julian, who...

(The entire section is 3959 words.)

Honor Moore (essay date 1998)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Moore, Honor. “The Visit: A Memoir of the Living Theatre at Yale.” Theater 28, no. 3 (1998): 23–30.

[In the following essay, Moore describes a visit by The Living Theatre to Yale in 1968, the conflicts it generated, and the way the visit changed her idea of theater.]

When I arrived in September 1967, the Yale School of Drama promised everything to a 22-year-old in love with the theater, and everyone, it seemed, wandered through it: Sam Shepard with a ponytail down his back; Stella Adler in her seventies, a long-stemmed red rose secured in the décolletage of her black sheath; Jonathan Miller to direct Robert Lowell's version of Prometheus Bound;...

(The entire section is 3160 words.)

Hanon Reznikov (essay date 1999)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Reznikov, Hanon. “Jerzy Grotowski, 1933–1999.” Theater 29, no. 2 (1999): 8.

[In the following obituary tribute to Jerzy Grotowski, Reznikov describes the differences between Jerzy Grotowski's Poor Theatre and The Living Theatre.]

After the Living Theater went into exile in Europe in the mid-1960s, its path began to cross with Grotowski's Polish Laboratory Theater. At the time, both groups were considered, each in its distinct way, to be at the cutting edge of “experimental” theater. The differences could not have been more apparent. The Grotowski people were not particularly interested in the audience; for the Living Theater the audience was...

(The entire section is 1905 words.)

James M. Harding (essay date 2000)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Harding, James M. “Dissent Behind the Barricades: Radical Art, Revolutionary Stages, and Avant-Garde Divisions.” In Contours of the Theatrical Avant-Garde, Performance and Textuality, pp. 176–201. Ann Arbor: Univeristy of Michigan Press, 2000.

[In the following essay, Harding combines a report of the occupation/liberation of the Odeon Theatre in Paris in 1968 with a discussion of the integration of vanguard politics and art as expressed in the opposing positions advanced by Beck and Jean-Louis Barrault.]


In the fall of 1968, just as the...

(The entire section is 11853 words.)