Judith Malina co-founded the Living Theater with her husband in 1947 and they remained at the forefront of stage experimentation in the 1950s and 1960s. They were an integral part of the “Counter-culture” of the time. She was only 21 when they started the theater. She had studied acting and directing and remained involved in both throughout her life.
Ms. Malina was born in Kiel, a port city in northern Germany, on June 4, 1926. The family moved to New York City when she was very young. She met Mr. Beck in 1943, when she was just 17, and together they attended the theater, visited museums and read modernist writers like Joyce, Pound and Cocteau. Ms. Malina worked as a singing waitress in a Greenwich Village bar and eventually enrolled in Piscator’s workshop at the New School for Social Research.
Ms. Malina was arrested multiple times for various offenses large and small, and the theater was evicted from various spaces throughout NYC. They brought productions to multiple countries. She published books on her experiences with the theater which are still available. The Living Theater is the oldest experimental theater group in the United States. They still perform in NYC, continuing in the ideals of Ms. Malina (died 2015) and Mr. Beck (1995).