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Article published on 11 April 2009
last modification on 13 July 2009

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The fourth annual Montreal International Anarchist Theatre Festival (MIATF) proudly presents two nights with New York’s legendary ‘The Living Theatre,’ Wednesday, May 13 + Thursday, May 14, 2009 at Concordia University’s D.B. Clarke Theatre, 1455 de Maisonneuve West (Metro Guy-Concordia), 7:30pm.

Tickets are $15 at the door or in advance from AT the Montreal anarchist bookstore L’Insoumise, 2033 boul St-Laurent (tel: 514- 313-3489), starting april 15, 2009.

The Living Theatre - North America’s premiere avant-garde theatre project founded in 1947 by two non-violent anarchists, Judith Malina (student of Erwin Piscator) and the late Julian Beck (from the New York School) - will perform a new piece for their two night run called ‘The Beautiful Non-Violent Anarchist Revolution: A combination of Living Theatre Plays.’ The world famous troupe is renowned for their aesthetics emphasizing improvisation and their plays about revolutionary issues. Their work has influenced generations of radical playwrights, actors and artists, and they have won four prestigious Obie awards. They continue to produce and tour anti-war plays from New York. Judith Malina will perform as part of the troupe.

Opening for The Living Theatre May 13th, is Maikan, an Innu giant puppet theatre troupe from the Mali-Utenam reserve near Sept-Iles. For their Montreal debut, they will stage ‘Tshakapesh’ – an enchanting, mythical piece based on an Innu legend addressing contemporary social issues.

May 14th features one of Montreal’s better known underground French literary figures, the talented Quebecois actress/author, Geneviève Letarte in a bilingual solo performance called ‘Still There.’ It recounts the stories of a woman who looks back to a time when she was attracted by all kinds of revolutions and who takes a critical look at the world as it is today. Letarte will be followed by the high energy La Chorale de la Maison la Virevolte - a radical 20 person choir and band from a family drop-in centre in one of the poorest areas of Longueuil, Lemoyne. The choir consists of single moms and friends, and has a repertoire of both revolutionary songs and songs based on the lives of the women themselves. Their performances are captivating and emotionally charged.

Last year, the MIATF hosted the Bread & Puppet Theatre from Vermont and a theatre company from France, "La Balancelle", playing to full houses each night at the almost 400 seat D.B.Clarke. The MIATF is part of Montreal’s annual Festival of Anarchy leading up to the city’s tenth annual Anarchist Bookfair, May 16, 2009.

INFO: 514 981 5330, or anarchistefestival@yahoo.ca




D.B. Clarke Theatre, 1455 de Maisonneuve West (Metro Guy-Concordia)


Wed, May 13, 2009, 7:30pm

• MAIKAN - Innu giant puppet theatre troupe (Mali-Utenam, QC)



The Beautiful Non-Violent Anarchist Revolution:

A combination of Living Theatre Plays

Thurs, May 14, 2009, 7:30pm


Still There

• La Chorale de la Maison La Virevolte et ses musiciens et musiciennes (QC)


The Beautiful Non-Violent Anarchist Revolution:

A combination of Living Theatre Plays





Founded in 1947 as an imaginative alternative to the commercial theater by Judith Malina (German-born student of Erwin Piscator) and Julian Beck (abstract expressionist painter of the New York School), The Living Theatre has staged nearly a hundred productions performed in eight languages in 28 countries on five continents - a unique body of work that has influenced theater the world over.

During the 1950’s and early 1960’s in New York, The Living Theatre pioneered the unconventional staging of poetic drama - the plays of American writers like Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Paul Goodman, Kenneth Rexroth and John Ashbery, as well as European writers rarely produced in United States, including Cocteau, Lorca, Brecht and Pirandello. Best remembered among these productions, which marked the start of the Off-Broadway movement, were Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, Tonight We Improvise, Many Loves, The Connection and The Brig.

The difficulty of operating a unique, experimental enterprise within a cultural establishment ill-equipped to accept it led to the closing by the authorities of all The Living Theatre’s New York venues: the Cherry Lane Theater (closed by the Fire Department in 1953), The Living Theatre Studio on Broadway at 100th Street (closed by the Buildings Department in 1956), The Living Theatre on 14th Street (closed by the I.R.S. in 1963) and The Living Theatre on Third Street (closed by the Buildings Department in 1993).

In the mid-1960’s, the company began a new life as a nomadic touring ensemble. In Europe, they evolved into a collective, living and working together toward the creation of a new form of non-fictional acting based on the actor’s political and physical commitment to using the theater as a medium for furthering social change. The landmark achievements of this period include Mysteries and Smaller Pieces, Antigone, Frankenstein and Paradise Now.

In the 1970’s, The Living Theatre began to create The Legacy of Cain, a cycle of plays for non-traditional venues. From the prisons of Brazil to the gates of the Pittsburgh steel mills, and from the slums of Palermo to the schools of New York City, the company offered these plays, which include Six Public Acts, The Money Tower, Seven Meditations on Political Sado-Masochism, Turning the Earth and the Strike Support Oratorium free of charge to the broadest of all possible audiences.

The 1980’s saw the group return to the theater, where they developed new participatory techniques that enable the audience to first rehearse with the company and then join them on stage as fellow performers. These plays include Prometheus at the Winter Palace, The Yellow Methuselah and The Archaeology of Sleep.

Following the death of Julian Beck in 1985, cofounder Judith Malina and the company’s new director, veteran Hanon Reznikov, who first encountered The Living Theatre while a student at Yale in 1968, opened a new performing space in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, producing a steady stream of innovative works including The Tablets, I and I, The Body of God, Humanity, Rules of Civility, Waste, Echoes of Justice, and The Zero Method. After the closing of the Third Street space in 1993, the company went on to create Anarchia, Utopia and Capital Changes in other New York City venues.

In 1999, with funds from the European Union, they renovated a 1650 Palazzo Spinola in Rocchetta Ligure, Italy and reopened it as the Centro Living Europa, a residence and working space for the company’s European programs. There they created Resistenza, a dramatization of the local inhabitants’ historical resistance to the German occupation of 1943-45. In recent years, the company has also been performing Resist Now!, a play for anti-globalization demonstrations both in Europe and the U.S. A month-long collaboration with local theater artists in Lebanon in 2001 resulted in the creation of a site-specific play about the abuse of political detainees in the notorious former prison at Khiam.

The Living has opened a new theatre at 21 Clinton Street, presenting The Brig. They continue also to present NO SIR!, a play for the street against military recruitment.

The Clinton Street theater is the company’s first permanent home since the closing of The Living Theatre on Third Street at Avenue C in 1993. The decision to return to the Lower East Side (at 19-21 Clinton Street, between Houston and Stanton Streets) reflects the company’s continuing faith in the neighborhood as a vibrant center where the needs of some of the city’s poorer people confront the ideas of the experimenters in art and politics who have settled in the area.

Judith Malina

Judith Malina founded The Living Theatre in 1945 with Julian Beck and continued the company’s work with Hanon Reznikov after Beck’s passing in 1985. Now, one year after losing Reznikov, she remains Artistic Director of The Living. Malina is the daughter of an orthodox Jewish-German rabbi who moved to the U.S. in 1928 to escape political oppression. She attended Erwin Piscator’s Dramatic Workshop at the New School on a partial scholarship in 1945 and from there looked to create her own theatre company. Malina and Beck’s Living Theater was a leader of the avant-garde theater movement of the early ’40s. Their one-act productions were often improvisational and penned by playwrights such as Gertrude Stein, Bertold Brecht, or Paul Goodman. The subject matter of the plays became increasingly political during the ’50s. In 1959, they won an Obie Award for their July 16, 1959, production of Jack Gelber’s The Connection. The play’s success landed them national acclaim and eventually an invite to perform at the Theatre des Nations in Paris where they won a grand prize. By the early ’60s, during production of Kenneth Brown’s The Brig, The Living Theatre was brought up on false tax evasion charges and because of the length and expense of the trials that ultimately proved their innocence, they lost their theatre. The Living then moved to Europe where troupe members led a nomadic existence and changed the types of plays they put on. They returned to the U.S. to tour throughout their nomadic existence. In 1969, the main troupe split up and Malina and Beck went to Brazil in the early ’70s. In addition to her theatrical work, Malina has maintained a film career to support the theatre’s work, including Dog Day Afternoon, Awakenings, Household Saints, The Addams Family with her most recent work coming in Disney’s 2009 When in Rome. The Living Theatre is currently located at 21 Clinton Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where Malina continues her efforts in The Beautiful Non-Violent Anarchist Revolution.


Geneviève Letarte presents a solo performance, which moves between story telling, song and theatre. She recounts the stories of a woman who looks back to a time when she was attracted by all kinds of revolutions and who takes a critical look at the world as it is today. In this monologue, humour and poetry go hand in hand. It is where intimate and social, political and personal concerns intertwine around a feminine essence.

Geneviève Letarte is a Montreal writer, singer and performance artist. The author of four novels, amongst them Souvent la nuit tu te réveilles (L’Hexagone, 2002) and Les Vertiges Molino (Leméac, 1996), she also published a book of poetry entitled Tout bas très fort (Écrits des Forges, 2004). She has collaborated with various literary magazines in Québec, France and the United-States and is a member of the editorial board of Montreal magazine l’Inconvénient, where she regularly publishes her own work as well as translations from English to French. As a songwriter, she has produced three recordings of her work on the Ambiances Magnétiques label: Âmes soûles (2007), Chansons d’un jour (2000) and Vous seriez un ange (1990), which were all performed on stage. She is also known for her performance work combining poetry, music and song, such as Dans la voix de quelqu’un (Studio de la Place des arts, Montreal, 2004) and Le Mystère du bois Blanc (Théâtre La Chapelle, Montreal, 2000). She has participated in many cultural events in Quebec and abroad including Festival Voix d’Amériques (Montreal), Festival parole ambulante (Lyon, France), Festival international de poésie Wallonie-Bruxelles (Namur, Belgique), Voilà Québec en Mexico! (Guadalajara, Mexique, 2003), Festival interculturel La Romeria De Mayo (Holguin, Cuba, 1999), Rencontres internationales de poésie contemporaine (Cogolin, France, 1986).




The Maison La Virevolte (The house of the about-turn) is a community organization for families based in Old Longueuil. It works essentially with residents of HLM, public housing projects, to support families in need through a variety of service activities – workshops for parents and

children, a day-care, help with homework, support groups, helping people know and defend their rights. La Virevolte is organized on principles of participation, run by staff and volunteers. Always a centre for new cultural expression, La Virevolte works towards affirming, challenging, marching, participating in multiple initiatives to establish a better world.

The members of the choir, mostly women and a few men, are for the most part, active members in the daily activities of the Virevolte. These are women who live in public housing projects, single moms, people who live alone, and a few staff members. Together in the choir for one year now, they sing radical, feminist, and popular songs. They express through song and music, another vision of the world, a critique of society obsessed by money and patriarchal. The choir gives them a chance to live a constructive musical experience, awakening and putting to use their multiple artistic talents that lie inside each one of them.


The six-person giant puppet troupe come from the Innu reserve of Mali-Utenam, 15 km east of Sept-Iles in Quebec. The play, Tshakapesh, written by Jean St-Onge, begins with the Innu creation story of Tshakapesh, descending from the moon. The second act shows an Innu man begging for money for glue and beer, and the consequences for himself and his family. At the end, as he’s dying, Tshakapesh comes to him in a sort of daydream. There’s also a short text about the government’s plan of ethnocide (assimilation) using the residential schools.

Jean St-Onge works in his community with the project Promotion de la vie (Promoting life). A project whose goal his preventing alcoholism, substance abuse and suicide. He participated in art exhibit in The First Nation Garden at Montreal’s Botanical Garden.

Anne-Marie St-Onge André studies Innu culture and history.

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