Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Living Theatre

Art, Exile, and Outrage

by John Tytell

“A powerful and loving portrait of Julian Beck, Judith Malina, the theatre they founded and the influence all three continue to have on our lives and culture.” —Martin Sheen

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 448
  • Publication Date February 18, 1997
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3486-8
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $15.00

About The Book

Just after the end of the Second World War two young, aspiring actors, Judith Malina and Julian Beck, dreamed of a theatre that would challenge the moral complacencies of their audience and shock the world. They called their company The Living Theatre because for them there could be no separation between art and everyday life, between performance and politics, between creativity and revolution.

The most radical, uncompromising, and experimental group in American theatrical history, it was also the most flamboyant and daring, both onstage and off–attracting attention worldwide, violating many of the taboos of culture and government, and unleashing a backlash of arrests, imprisonments, and attempts at suppression. And they did all this while presenting the work of some of the world’s pre-eminent playwrights, in productions that have reshaped the way we look at and think about modern theater.

The story of The Living Theatre is also the story of the emergence of a New York avant-garde in the 1950s and the resulting counterculture of the 1960s. The company was a kind of theatrical tribe, creating and staging plays collectively, living communally, and cultivating an atmosphere of sexual openness and adventure. And what a cast of characters passes through these pages: Tennessee Williams, Frank O’Hara, Anaïs Nin, James Agee, Allen Ginsberg and the Beats, Jackson Pollock and the Abstract Expressionists, Dorothy Day, John Ashberry, Peggy Guggenheim, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Alan Hovhaness, and Maya Deren, among many others.

Tytell has captured the mood and the artistic and political challenges of one of the most dynamic eras in American cultural history and The Living Theatre should be read by everyone who shares a passion for the arts and knows the sacrifices that passion, at times, demands.


“A solid overview of a performance group that in retrospect seems to embody all the bravery, idealism and folly that have come to characterize the 1960s.” —Los Angeles Times

“A powerful and loving portrait of Julian Beck, Judith Malina, the theatre they founded and the influence all three continue to have on our lives and culture.” —Martin Sheen

“A luminously detailed cultural biography of The Living Theatre and its angels and heroes.” —Michael McClure

“A warm and passionate history of one of the great radical theatres of our time and a wonderful chronicle of the American cultural and social scene of the last fifty years.” —André Gregory

“Starring two intense apostles for a brave new world of artistic, sexual and political liberation, covering a vast sweep of time in which there are many changes of scene—from Greenwich Village in the late ’40s to the Lower East Side in the late ’80s, from France to Italy to the deserts of Morocco and the jungles of Brazil—and studded with cameo appearances by James Agee, Paul Goodman, Jackson Pollock, Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Jack Kerouac, among many others, the narrative of the founding and embattled maintenance of The Living Theatre is a ripping American epic . . . . Tytell has a swift, clear, no-nonsense style, and he capably assembles this vast tapestry of theatre and society.” —Foster Hirsch, American Theatre