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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hey, did you find my underwear in the balcony? The Living Theatre, 1968

The Living Theatre—whose performances have engaged (or antagonized, depending on who you ask) audiences from New York to Lebanon since the late 1940s—was in residence at BAM in October of 1968. Fresh from a self-imposed exile in Europe, the Living Theatre performed many of their hallmark pieces, including Paradise Now, and the Obie Award-winning Frankenstein. While this group of free radicals sought to enlighten BAM’s audiences to the spiritual utility of marijuana, free love, and non-violent revolution, BAM President and Executive Producer Harvey Lichtenstein was busy collecting stories to tell for the enlightenment of future generations of theatergoers. The following is from an oral history conducted with Lichtenstein in 2009.

LICHTENSTEIN: With the Living Theatre there are numerous stories. [Laughs.] I come in after a performance of, say, Paradise Now, and I walk in the morning into the lobby, and one of our guards stopped me. He said, “Mr. Lichtenstein, Mr. Lichtenstein, what’s this group you have here at night? Who are they?” I said, “It’s a theater group called the Living Theatre.” He said, “They do theater?” I said, “Yes.” I said, “Why are you asking?” He said, “Well, you know, we go through the theater in the morning and we clean up and stuff, and when I go up in the balcony”—this was in the playhouse—“when I got up in the balcony of the playhouse, it’s full of underwear,” he says. [Laughs.]


  1. Yes, great memories! I attended the performances of both plays in 1968. Talk about formative experiences!


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