“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…”
Judith Malina and Julian Beck, directors of the Living Theatre
“WE WANT THE WORLD, AND WE WANT IT NOW”
In 1968, after years of self-imposed exile in Europe, the Living Theatre triumphantly returned to America with their theatrical breakthrough “Paradise Now.”
The sensational production, involving group nudity, marijuana smoking, advocacy of a non-violent anarchist revolution, continuous interaction with the audience and something just this side of a full-on public orgy, received attention from those far outside the normal theater-going public.
Doors singer Jim Morrison and poet Michael McClure actively participated in performances of ‘Paradise Now’ at the [San Francisco Bay Area’s] Nourse Auditorium…. McClure brought Morrison to visit at [Beat poet/City Light Books founder Lawrence] Ferlinghetti’s office. Julian [Beck, of the Living Theatre} was on and off the telephone to New York, frantically worried about the money to get the troupe back to Europe where engagements has been scheduled. Quietly, Morrison offered to assist with money.
Morrison–who had read Artaud and Ginsberg in college–saw himself as a revolutionary figure. Agreeing that repression was the chief social evil in America and the cause of a general pathology, he was typical of the sectors of support The Living Theatre had received in America. [The Doors’] long improvisational song ‘When the Music’s Over’ proclaims, as in ‘Paradise Now,’ ‘We want the world, and we want it now.’ Morrison had seen every performance in Los Angeles and followed the company up to San Francisco.
“On the day after his visit with McClure, Jim Morrison gave Julian [Beck] $2,500 for the trip home…”
Two years in the making, beautifully assembled with love by Will Swofford, Arthur Magazine’s PARADISE NOW: A Collective Creation of the Living Theatre features a DVD of rare, never-before-distributed films and revolutionary multimedia documents from the production, plus two double-sided posters and a detailed 40-page booklet. This set is worth far more than $29.95, but that’s what we’re charging. We made a single edition of 1,000 in 2008. When they’re gone, they’re gone.
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.
Arthur Magazine proudly presents PARADISE NOW: A Collective Creation of The Living Theatre DVD
In 1968, the Living Theatre troupe returned to America with that unforgettable psychedelic mystery play based on the Kabbalah and the I Ching–PARADISE NOW. They had become a traveling commune, the not-so-secret agents of a comsic alternative. Wherever they went they turned whole cities upside down just by their presence. We would never be the same.
From THE LIVING THEATRE: ART, EXILE AND OUTRAGE by John Tytell (Grove Press, 1995):
“Doors singer Jim Morrison and poet Michael McClure actively participated in performances of Paradise Now at the [San Francisco Bay Area’s] Nourse Auditorium…. McClure brought Morrison to visit at [Lawrence] Ferlinghetti’s office. Julian [Beck, of the Living Theatre] was on and off the telephone to New York, frantically worried about the money to get the troupe back to Europe where engagements has been scheduled. Quietly, Morrison offered to assist with money.
“Morrison–who had read Artaud and Ginsberg in college–saw himself as a revolutionary figure. Agreeing that repression was the chief social evil in America and the cause of a general pathology, he was typical of the sectors of support The Living Theatre had received in America. His long improvisational song ‘When the Music’s Over’ was a basic statement of apocalypse. Another of his songs proclaims, as in Paradise Now, ‘We want the world, and we want it now.’ Morrison had seen every performance in Los Angeles and followed the company up to San Francisco.
“On the day after his visit with McClure, Jim Morrison have Julian twenty-five hundred dollars for the trip home…”
“PARADISE NOW: A Collective Creation of the Living Theatre” features rare, never-before-distributed films and revolutionary multimedia documents from The Living Theatre’s historic and influential ’68-’69 American tour. A fulminating art-meets-life installation brought to you by Arthur Magazine in collaboration with The Living Theatre and Universal Mutant, Inc.