1st Edition

The Piscator Notebook

ISBN 9780415600743
Published April 19, 2012 by Routledge
256 Pages

USD $44.95

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Book Description

'Theater legend Malina has written one of the most interesting studies of the avant-garde theatrical movement published in the last several years.' – CHOICE

Judith Malina and The Living Theatre have been icons of political theatre for over six decades. What few realise is that she originally studied under one of the giants of twentieth century culture, Erwin Piscator, in his Dramatic Workshop at The New School in New York. Piscator founded the Workshop after emigrating to New York, having collaborated with Brecht to create "epic theatre" in Germany.

The Piscator Notebook documents Malina’s intensive and idiosyncratic training at Piscator’s school. Part diary, part theatrical treatise, this unique and inspiring volume combines:

  • complete transcriptions of Malina’s diaries from her time as a student at the Dramatic Workshop, as well as reproductions of various of Piscator’s syllabi and teaching materials;
  • notes on Malina’s teachers, fellow students – including Marlon Brando and Tennessee Williams – and New School productions;
  • studies of Piscator’s process and influence, along with a new essay on the relationship between his teaching, Malina’s work with the Living Theatre and "The Ongoing Epic";
  • an introduction by performance pioneer, Richard Schechner.

The Piscator Notebook is a compelling record of the genealogy of political theatre practice in the early 20th Century, from Europe to the US. But it is also a stunningly personal reflection on the pleasures and challenges of learning about theatre, charged with essential insights for the student and teacher, actor and director.

'Piscator is the greatest theatre man of our time.' – Bertolt Brecht

Table of Contents

Foreword: by Richard Schechner

Part 1: Weimar to The Dramatic Workshop

Personal History

Erwin Piscator: Germany to New York City

The Founding of The Dramatic Workshop, 1940

The Studio Theatre

The Teachers of Piscator’s School

Margrit Wyler

Reiken Ben-Ari

Chouteau Dyer

Leo Kerz

Paul Zucker

Gloria Montemuro

Alexander Ince

Hans Sondheimer

Henry Wendriner

The Students

George Bartenieff

Anna Berger

Sylvia Miles

Marlon Brando

Bea Arthur

Howard Friedman

Piscator’s Students

My Personal Struggle to Enter The Dramatic Workshop

Valeska Gert

Lunar Bowels: an Audition Piece

Part 2: The Notebook

Part 3: The Ongoing Epic

End of the Notebook and First Workshop Plays

Julian Beck

By Any Other Name and Maurice Schwartz’s Yiddish Art Theatre

Piscator’s Basic Question: The Role of the Audience

Becoming a Director: A Confession

The Inspiration of Joseph Urban’s Architecture

Eleanor Fitzgerald

The Classes

The March of Drama

Theatre Research

Theatre Research Critique

The Plays

The Sheepwell (Fuente Ovejuna)

Franklin Roosevelt’s Death


The Spook Sonata

Hannele’s Way to Heaven

The Aristocrats


The Circle of Chalk

The Flies

Tonight We Improvise – Pirandello: Breaking into the Audience

Kandinsky’s Great Insight

Piscator and the Audience

Objective Acting

Between Two Worlds

Piscator: Success and Failure

Piscator’s Return to Germany – and to Berlin

Eric Bentley

Piscator’s Influence

Piscator’s Influence: The Work of The Living Theatre

Afterword: Political Theatre, Theatrical Politics: Epic Theatre in the 21st Century

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'Theater legend Malina has written one of the most interesting studies of the avant-garde theatrical movement published in the last several years. Highly recommended.' M.D. Whitlatch, CHOICE magazine