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UNDERGROUNDZERO FESTIVAL - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


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UNDERGROUNDZERO FESTIVAL

Back From the Brink, Living Theatre Hosts Fest Celebrating Survival


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"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…