Beck, Julian

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Beck, Julian

Julian Beck, 1925–85, American theatrical director, actor, and producer, b. New York City. In 1948 he married Judith Malina, 1926–2015, also an American theatrical director, actor, and producer, b. Germany. Together they had founded the Living Theater in 1947, which inaugurated the off-off Broadway movement. Their productions were highly political, provocative, and imaginative, often involved collective improvisation, and took an anarcho-pacifist viewpoint. Perhaps their most controversial work was Paradise Now (1968), a free-form critique of American life that involved nudity and audience participation. Other productions included The Connection (1959), The Brig (1963), In the Jungle of the Cities (1960), and Antigone (1968). The company was based in Europe for two decades (1963–83). After Beck's death, Malina continued to manage the Living Theater with Hanon Reznikov (1950–2008), whom she married in 1988. Malina was also a skilled character actress who appeared in films and on television.

See J. Malina's autobiography, The Enormous Despair (1972); R. Neff, The Living Theatre: USA (1970); J. Tytell, The Living Theater: Art, Exile, and Outrage (1995).

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