Thursday, April 23, 2015

A note on Judith’s Passing

A note on Judith’s Passing

Much has been written about Judith Malina in the short time since she left the world, and I don’t think there is anything more to be added; she was admired and beloved for what she did in the theater, and for what she wrote as a diarist and poet, and for what she achieved as a political activist, and for who she was as a person. Charles Henri Ford knew Judith (and her husband Julian Beck) since the early sixties, and he often spoke about them. The experimental aspects of the Living Theater was something that he very much liked, maybe in part because his own work was always very experimental too. 

Over the years, I saw Judith and Julian many times in New York, usually after attending one of their plays. I spoke to Judith whenever I saw her, although I no longer remember what we talked about. I just remember that it was always nice to talk with her, and I’m sure that anyone who has ever chatted with Judith knows what I mean. 

The photograph I’m including here is one that I took in 1984 of Ira Cohen, Julian, Judith, and Charles. It was taken in Paris, in Charles’s apartment on the Ile Saint Louis. I wish I could remember what all were talking about that afternoon in Paris, but I had never been one to keep a diary of who said what to whom. I wish I had been. Of course Ira was there, which probably means that he did most of the talking.

Whenever we were in Paris, Charles would invite people visiting from America or elsewhere to come and have tea. One thing he never allowed was smoking. If someone went to light up a cigarette he would stop them. But on that day he allowed Judith to smoke, and this I think was a gesture of respect for her on his part.

It always struck me that somehow, in a way, Ira, Julian and Judith all looked alike. It was something about their style—their dress and manner—it was a fashion and way of being, very specific to them. Now they are all gone. I know that until the last minute, Judith was still writing, still thinking of directing theater, still living life. She was one of the last posts standing from a whole group of luminaries. Sadly, yet happily, the torch is passed. 
Judith Malina with her husband Julian Beck at her side, Ira Cohen and Charles Henri Ford. Photo taken at Charles' Apartment in Paris sometime around 1984. Photo by: Indra Tamang

In memory of Judith Malina

June 4, 1926 – April 10, 2015

May her spirit have safe, but adventurous travels