Poetry in Theatre: Early Frank O’Hara + Plays by Contemporary Poets, with Judith Malina

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Poetry in Theatre: Early Frank O’Hara + Plays by Contemporary Poets, with Judith Malina

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Jun 3, 2013
Jun 3, 2013
Elebash Theatre
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Frank O'Hara reading with Ray Bremser, LeRoi Jones, Allen Ginsberg (The Living Theater)

Frank O’Hara reading with RayBremser,
LeRoi Jones, Allen Ginsberg

(The Living Theater)

The now-legendary group of 1950s American poets called the New York School—including John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, and Frank O’Hara—crossed artistic disciplines and collaborated frequently with painters, sculptors, and theatre artists including Julian Beck and Judith Malina of The Living Theatre. Together, these forward-thinking artists created a hive of activity that might be considered a precursor to today’s Off-Off Broadway theatre scene. But what is the state of such cross-disciplinary involvement today? The Segal devotes a day to revisiting these seminal collaborations between poetry and theatre and to highlighting the legacy of the poetry/theatre connection in New York. With an afternoon of readings from contemporary writers who traverse both theatre and poetry, including  Ariana Reines, Jim Fletcher, Kenneth GoldsmithBob Holman, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, followed by an evening reading of Frank O’Hara’s early play Try! Try! A Noh Play, presentations of poetry by Lemon Andersen, Sibyl Kempson, and Christopher Knowles, and an unmissable conversation with Judith Malina (Co-Founder, The Living Theatre).


2pm: Poem by Sibyl Kempson

2pm: SOMEWHERE NEAR HERE by Yusef Komunyakaa (Pulitzer Prize-winning poet), directed by Kenneth Sean Collins

3pm: LORNA written and directed by Ariana Reines and Jim Fletcher

4pm: FIDGET by Kenneth Goldsmith, directed by Tom King

5pm: CLEAR THE RANGE by Bob Holman and Bob Rosenthal, directed by Allison Troup-Jensen

6:30pm: TRY! TRY! by Frank O’Hara, directed by Elise Thoron and featuring Judith Malina (The Living Theatre), Michael Laurence, and David Margulies

7pm: TOAST by Lemon Andersen

7:15pm: Christopher Knowles reads THE SUNDANCE KID IS BEAUTIFUL and other poems

7:30pm: Panel with writers and Judith Malina, moderated by Frank Hentschker

8:30pm: Poem by Sibyl Kempson


JUDITH MALINA is an actress, writer, director, and one of the founders of The Living Theatre. Malina was born in Germany, the daughter of Rabbi Max Malina and Rosel Zamora, an aspiring actress. Malina was trained in acting by her mother from an early age. She began attending the New School for Social Research in 1945 to study theatre in Erwin Piscator’s Dramatic Workshop. Malina was greatly influenced by Bertolt Brecht and Piscator’s philosophy of “Epic Theatre,” which departed from traditional narrative forms. She saw theatre as a form of political communication, though Malina, unlike Piscator, was committed to nonviolence and anarchism.

Judith met her first husband, and co-founder of The Living Theatre, Julian Beck, when she was seventeen years old. They founded The Living Theatre together in 1947. In 1951 The Living Theatre began work in the Cherry Lane Theatre, where many of The Living Theatre’s earliest performances were staged, beginning with Malina’s direction of Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights by Gertrude Stein. After Julian Beck’s death in 1985, Judith married Hanon Reznikov, who wrote twelve of The Living Theatre’s plays and was working on Eureka! At the time of his death. Malina completed Eureka! And directed it in 2008. The play takes the entire audience into the action of the play as performers and participants. Now she works with her son Garrick Beck and her associate Artistic Directors Tom Walker and Brad Burgess on 21 Clinton Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

In 1963 Judith appeared in Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures. She played Al Pacino’s mother in Dog Day Afternoon, directed by Sidney Lumet. In 1990 Judith performed opposite Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams in Awakenings. She played Granny in The Addams Family (1991) and was featured in Household Saints (1993). More recently, she was seen in the independent film Nothing Really Happens (2003). She has appeared in episodes of ER and The Sopranos. When in Rome, Disney (2010).

Honors: Theatre Hall of Fame, Guggenheim Foundation Artistic Fellowship, New York Innovative Theatre Awards 2008 Artistic Achievement Award, Edwin Booth Award from the Doctoral Theatre Students Association of the City University of New York, Association for Theatre in Higher Education 2009 Career Achievement in Professional Theatre Award, The National Theatre Conference’s 2009 Oustanding Theatre Honoree. Obie Awards for her work with The Living Theatre: Best All-around Production, The Connection (1960), Best Play, Best Directing, The Brig (1964), Special 20 Year Obie to Judith Malina and Julian Beck (1975), Special Citation The Living Theatre Retrospectacle (1987), Obie Grant Award (1989), Special Citation for Direction and the work of an Ensemble, The Brig (2007). In November 2008, Malina received the Order of Cultural Merit Award from the President of Brazil, Luis Ignacio Lula Da Silva. Currently her work there has inspired a political street theatre campaign that is part of a national Brazilian effort to disclose the location of buried bodies of torture victims during the former military dictatorship that is related to a larger effort by the United Nations to investigate the dictatorship. In 2012, her play History of The World, after a rave from The New York Times, oversold its final weeks, and closed in a special encore performance for The League of Independent Theaters attended by Edward Albee. The two spoke on behalf of a new initiative called The Independent Theater Fund, launched at the closing, which is an attempt to unite the Broadway, Off Broadway and Independent Theater communities in New York City.

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