Paradise Now: The Living Theatre in Amerika, ’67-’68

1960s: Days of Rage

“In 1968 The Living Theatre, an anarcho-communalist troupe led by Julian Beck and Judith Malina, returned to America from years of self-imposed exile in Europe with what would become their best-known production: ‘Paradise Now,’ a post-Artaud play that sought to completely dissolve the boundaries of human interactions through a practice of live collective creation, forging a revolutionary harmony between actors and audience. ‘The purpose of the play is to lead to a state of being in which non-violent revolutionary action is possible,’ wrote Julian, and he meant it. What happened each night onstage-and offstage, and then out into the streets-was a series of purposefully provocative and interventionist actions, from marijuana smoking and full-body group nudity to screamed declarations, intense arguments, dance and (yes) orgies, sometimes involving audience members. They attracted the attention of the police, the derision of mainstream critics, and the devotion of many, including The Doors’ Jim Morrison…

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