Friday, April 10, 2015

Judith Malina

It's 1985. My friends Carolyn, Jennifer and I are in the theatre section of the Hungry Mind bookstore, looking for a book to give the mentor from our internship. While we are there, I pick up The Diaries of Judith Malina — and in that one moment, my life changes forever.

Malina followed the I Ching, and that book became my I Ching. Every page of my copy is underlined, notated, dog-eared, remarked-upon. For my whole life since then I have had a ritual; that book sits beside my bed, and periodically I will thumb through, find that day in her diaries, read what is written there. It is inevitably spot on. Malina has few entries from this date, but on April 10, 1956 she wrote "Lately I can feel the drive like the application of a whip. Whatever I touch becomes a straw to clutch at."

Today, April 10, 2015, Judith Malina died at age 88.

---

When I saw the news come over my feed, everything just stopped. I looked at my computer, disbelieving. I said to Andrew "Judith Malina is dead." (he said "I actually don't know who that is.") And it was quite a few minutes before the world seemed to move again.

Indeed, you might not know who Judith Malina is. Or the importance of the Living Theatre. I suppose in this modern age wikipedia or the theatre's web page, might give you the facts. There are grainy online clips available on YouTube of Paradise Now and The Brig. 

Truth is that the Living Theatre, and Malina's life, was radical in a way that I don't even think can be fully understood anymore. It was raw early theatre-that-is-now-classic (Chaikin and Brecht and Stein), and revolution taken to the streets, and theatre space upon space closed by government agencies, and exile to Europe, and true raw power.

I would not be in theatre if it were not for Judith Malina. I would not be the woman I am today. This is a strong thing to say about a woman I had never met, but it's 100% accurate.

I dreamed about Malina last night. And I awoke, and she is gone. The world is a much less fierce and luminous world without her presence.

No comments: