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Back From the Brink, Living Theatre Hosts Fest Celebrating Survival

"Cho H Cho" featuring Daniel IrizarryErica Min “Cho H Cho” featuring Daniel Irizarry.

With arts funding getting slashed and donors pinching pennies, 11 downtown theater companies have joined forces for an avant garde festival next month. What space will serve as host? The Living Theatre, of course, which narrowly avoided shutting down weeks ago.

The month-long undergroundzero festival will open June 29 with a sit-down interview with Judith Malina, the revered founder of The Living Theatre. Ms. Malina will also fill the role of Mary in a production of “The Gospel of St Matthew” — a victory lap of sorts for the 85-year-old woman who nearly saw her life’s work come to an end due to debt.

“This is part of preserving one of the city’s treasures: Judith,” said Brad Burgess, who cares for Ms. Malina and helps run the theater. “If she’s not supported — the founder of the movement — what do the rest of us have? If she’s taken care of then there’s hope.”

Of course, The Living Theatre’s financial woes are far from unique. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, 50 of New York City’s 200 performance venues with 99 seats or fewer closed between 2003 and 2010. Read more…

Living Theatre Makes Last Ditch Effort for Survival

Lucky Ant

Last Thursday, Brad Burgess was able to stop city marshals from evicting The Living Theatre after gathering $10,400 for back rent. But in 12 days the theater, known for its avant garde productions admired by the likes of Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, faces yet another deadline. If The Living Theatre cannot raise $24,000 by May 14 it will have to move out. Its founder, Judith Malina, will likely face eviction from her apartment above the theater shortly thereafter.

To meet the goal, the theater has set up a call for donations that went live yesterday through a local crowd-funding site, Lucky Ant. The $24,000 would go towards arrears, as well as the money to pay a consultant who would formulate a plan to put the theater back in the black.

“We are down to the wire,” said Mr. Burgess, the 27-year-old actor who is caring for Ms. Malina and helping run the theater. Read more…