Artist : Judith Malina
Label : Sloow Tapes, Stekene, Belgium
Year : 2015
Photography by Christopher Felver and Louise Landes Levi
Recorded in 2014 by Brad Burgess & Louise Landes Levi
Limited edition of 100
Postage & packing not included
Judith Malina (1926-2015) was born in Kiel, Germany but emigrated to New York with her parents at the age of three to escape the clutches of nazism. Her mother was a former actress and her father a conservative rabbi. Judith took an interest in the theatre from an early age and started attending the classes of the radical German director Erwin Piscator at the New School for Social Research in 1945. Both Piscator’s ‘epic theatre’ and Antonin Artaud’s ‘Theatre of Cruelty’, which aimed at tearing down the walls between actors and audience and theatre and reality, proved lasting influences on Malina and her husband Julian Beck, whom she met when she was 17 years old. Together with Beck Malina founded the experimental and confrontational Living Theatre company in 1947. The company rose to fame and notoriety in 1950s and grew into a pillar of the counterculture in the 1960s. ‘We believe in the theater as a place of intense experience, half-dream, half-ritual, in which the spectator approaches something of a vision of self-understanding, going past conscious to unconscious, to an understanding of the nature of all things,’ Julian Beck wrote in 1959 and added: ‘Only the language of poetry can accomplish this, only poetry or a language laden with symbols and far removed from our daily speech can take us beyond the ignorant present toward these realms.’ Julian Beck died in 1985 and Judith Malina 30 years later but their brainchild The Living Theatre exists to this day. As an actress Judith Malina occasionally appeared in films and in TV series: Dog Day Afternoon, Awakenings, the Addams Family and The Sopranos. She died of a lung disease in April 2015.
The cassette ‘We Are All Holy’ that Bart De Paepe released on Sloow Tapes shortly after Judith Malina’s death, contains readings by Malina of her own poems, most of which were published in 1982 as ‘Poems of a Wandering Jewess’ by Jim Haynes’s Handshake Editions. Her intimate poems deal to a large extent with being Jewish, being a woman, her relationship with Julian Beck and life and death in general. Despite Malina being short of breath as a result of the lung disease that would kill her not long after and despite the brittleness of her voice (Malina was 88 when she was recorded) the vigour and militancy of her mind and soul shine all the way through the recordings. Sea Urchin distributes the very last available copies of this cassette.