The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB)

Celebrating Our Twentieth Year!


Two Lives in the Theater:
Peter Schumann and Judith Malina in Conversation

hosted and with additional comments by Marie-Claire Picher

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 7:30 pm

at the Brecht Forum
451 West Street (West Side Highway at Bank Street,
one block north of West 11 Street)
New York City

Two legendary theater practitioners, Peter Schumann, founder of the Bread
and Puppet Theater, and Judith Malina, co-founder of The Living Theatre,
will have a freewheeling conversation about theater, art, politics,
culture, changing the world, and any other topics they might come upon
during this evening of artful wandering.

Peter Schumann was born in 1934 in Silesia. He studied and practiced
sculpture and dance in Germany, moved to the USA in 1961, and founded
Bread and Puppet Theater in New York City in 1963. From hand and rod
puppet shows in the streets to giant puppet parades, Schumann addressed
local injustices as well as the Vietnam War. In 1970 Schumann and the
company moved to Vermont. There he continues to build puppets, create
shows and giant outdoor spectacles and perform locally and
internationally, and to bake bread, grow garlic and split firewood. Peter
Schumann is married to Elka Leigh Scott and they live in Vermont’s
Northeast Kingdom. They have five children and five grandchildren.

OBIE-winning actor and director Judith Malina was born in Kiel, Germany in
1926 and moved with her family to New York City in 1929. After high
school, Malina studied with Erwin Piscator in his Dramatic Workshop at the
New School for Social Research. Shortly before her training with Piscator,
Malina met Julian Beck, who was to become her husband and artistic
partner, and in 1947 the two founded The Living Theatre. Early Living
Theatre plays included works by Bertolt Brecht and Jean Cocteau; in 1959
the company presented Jack Gelber's play The Connection to critical
national acclaim, and in 1963 it staged The Brig, by Kenneth Brown, a
highly controversial piece whose action took place entirely in a US Marine
Corps brig. Because of this production The Living Theatre ran afoul of the
Internal Revenue Service and consequently relocated to Europe, where
Malina and Beck, with other company members, worked for most of the 1960s
and 1970s, creating and staging some of the most radically avant garde
performances of the twentieth century, including Frankenstein, Paradise
Now, The Tower of Money and Seven Meditations on Political Sado-Masochism.
In the 1980s, The Living Theatre returned to New York, where it is now
based. Following Julian Beck's death in 1985, Judith Malina continued to
serve as the company's artistic director while also directing and writing
numerous plays, and acting in them, and has been involved in seven
productions since 2007, when the company moved to its present Clinton
Street location on the Lower East Side. Malina has recently finished
writing a major book about the life and theories of Erwin Piscator, which
will be published next year.

Marie-Claire Picher co-founded the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory
(TOPLAB) in 1990. She has worked extensively with Augusto Boal and is one
of North America's preeminent practitioners and facilitators of Theater of
the Oppressed (TO). TOPLAB is the country's oldest company presenting TO
training and under its aegis Picher has led hundreds of facilitation
workshops in New York and throughout the United States, as well as in
Mexico, Cuba and Guatemala.

Admission–sliding scale: $6/$10/$15
Reserve online at

"I believe that all the truly revolutionary theatrical groups should
transfer to the people the means of production in the theater so that the
people themselves may utilize them. The theater is a weapon, and it is the
people who should wield it." –Augusto Boal (1931-2009), founder of
the Theater of the Oppressed

Other Upcoming TOPLAB Events:

Saturday, December 11 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Education for Liberation

A celebration of the Paulo Freire-based popular education programming
which has been regularly presented at the Brecht Forum since the early
1990s. A collaborative event bringing together TOPLAB and other popular

Admission–sliding scale: $10/$15/$25

Reserve online at


Sunday, December 12 from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm

The Image of Transition from the Real to the Ideal

a one-day workshop in Image Theater

facilitated by Marie-Claire Picher

No prior theater experience is necessary to participate in this workshop.
If you would like to enroll please write to TOPLAB at to
let us know you will be coming.

Tuition–sliding scale: $45-$95

Register online at

"We must emphasize: What Brecht does not want is that the spectators
continue to leave their brains with their hats upon entering the
theater, as do bourgeois spectators." –Augusto Boal