“Anita [Pallenberg] and I went to Rome that spring and summer , between the bust and the trials, where Anita played in Barbarella, with Jane Fonda, directed by Jane’s husband Roger Vadim. Anita’s Roman world centered around the Living Theatre, the famous anarchist-pacifist troupe run by Judith Malina and Julian Beck, which had been around for years but was coming into its own in this period of activism and street demos. The Living Theatre was particularly insane, hard-core, its players often getting arrested on indecency charges—they had a play [“Paradise Now”] in which they recited lists of social taboos at the audience, for which they usually got a night in the slammer. Their main actor, a handsome black man named Rufus Collins, was a friend of Robert Fraser, and they were a part of the Andy Warhol and Gerard Malanga connection. And so it all went round in a little avant-garde elite, as often as not drawn together by a taste for drugs, of which the LT was a center. And drugs were not copious in those days. The Living Theatre was intense, but it had glamour. There were all those beautiful people attached, like Donyale Luna, who was the first famous black model in America, and Nico and all those girls who were hovering around. Donyale Luna was with one of the guys from the theater. Talk about a tiger, a leopard, one of the most sinuous chicks I’ve ever seen. Not that I tried or anything. She obviously had her own agenda. And all backlit by the beauty of Rome, which gave it an added intensity…”
Arthur Magazine proudly presents PARADISE NOW: The Living Theatre in Amerika, a DVD/36-page booklet/double-sided poster featuring rare, never-before-distributed films from The Living Theatre‘s historic and influential ’68-’69 American tour.
Here is the trailer preview teaser, which may not be safe for work but is Totally Safe For Life:
In 1968 the The Living Theatre, an anarchist collective theater troupe led by Julian Beck and Judith Malina, triumphantly returned to America from years of self-imposed exile in Europe. Their new production, which has already taken Europe by storm, was Paradise Now, an intense, challenging distillation and enactment of every principle that the Living Theatre held dear.
“Life, revolution and theater are three words for the same thing: an unconditional NO to the present society,” said Julian Beck. The staging of Paradise Now—a series of provocative scenarios involving group nudity, ideological declamations and the like—attempted to dissolve the boundaries of human interactions, forging a new harmony between the actors and audience. Of this process, Beck wrote:
“Collective creation is the secret weapon of the people… This play is a voyage from the many to the one and from the one to the many. It’s a spiritual voyage and a political voyage, a voyage for the actors and the spectators. The play is a vertical ascent toward permanent revolution, leading to revolutionary action here and now. The revolution of which the play speaks is the beautiful, non-violent, anarchist revolution. The purpose of the play is to lead to a state of being in which non-violent revolutionary action is possible.”
The result of this shared voyage was the visionary, flamboyant creation of a temporary anarchist collective—free from the enslavements of war, violence, the State, money and the self. Audiences and critics were alternately enraptured and repulsed, radicalized and shocked. Was this the end of theater? Or the beginning of something else? Whatever it was, it was unforgettable, and it rippled into the increasingly volatile culture of the time via the subsequent work of people like the Doors’ Jim Morrison, who famously followed the Living Theatre’s “Paradise Now” around California and helped fund their work.
Director Marty Topp’s film of “Paradise Now,” produced by Ira Cohen, featuring music by the MC5, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Apache Indians and others, is an intense, unforgettable 40-minute film that documents what happened when the Living Theatre staged Paradise Now in America. We have packaged it with “Emergency!”, director Gwen Brown’s excellent but little-seen 30-minute 1968 documentary on the Living Theatre; a double-sided poster; an elaborate 36-page booklet of Living Theatre archival materials; exclusive video interviews with Living Theatre members Judith Malina, Julian Beck and Hanon Raznikov; the complete Paradise Now! script; and much more.
Take an alchemical journey with Ira Cohen’s The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, a mythosphere filtered through Mylar and worthy of Kenneth Anger’s most lysergic moments, with ritual music provided by ex-Velvet Undergrounder Angus MacLise. Also on the program is Marty Topp’s Paradise Now: The Living Theatre in Amerika. “Life, revolution and theater are three words for the same thing: an unconditional NO to the present society” – Julian Beck, Living Theatre co-founder