Ruth Maleczech

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ruth Maleczech
Born Ruth Sophia Reinprecht
(1939-01-08)January 8, 1939
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S
Died September 30, 2013(2013-09-30) (aged 74)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S
Occupation Actress

Ruth Maleczech (January 8, 1939 – September 30, 2013) was an American avant-garde stage actress.[1] She won three Obie Awards for Best Actress in her career, for Hajj (1983), Through The Leaves, (1984) and Lear (1990)and an Obie Award for Design, shared with Julie Archer, for "Vanishing Pictures (1980), which she also directed.. Her performance as Lear was widely acclaimed: her King Lear was portrayed as an imperious Southern matriarch.[2]


Maleczech was born in Cleveland, Ohio as Ruth Sophia Reinprecht to Yugoslavian immigrant parents, a steel worker and a seamstress and raised in Phoenix, Arizona.[3] Maleczech was the first in her family to attend college, beginning theater studies at UCLA at 16. From there she went to San Francisco to work, first, with Herbert Blau at The Actor’s Workshop, then with Ronnie Davis in what became the San Francisco Mime Troupe. In San Francisco, she met and lived with Mabou Mines co-founder Lee Breuer; (In 1964) they went to Paris and for six years earned money dubbing films, sufficient to fund their burgeoning theatrical experiments. In Europe, Maleczech and Breuer met David Warrilow and fellow ex-pats JoAnne Akalaitis & Philip Glass. In France Maleczech and Akalaitis studied with the Polish director and drama theorist Jerzy Grotowski; Maleczech also spent a month in East Berlin studying, observing rehearsals and attending performances by Bertholt Brecht’s storied Berliner Ensemble.

Returning to the U.S., Maleczech co-founded the experimental N.Y.C. theater company Mabou Mines, in 1970, along with JoAnne Akalaitis, Lee Breuer, Philip Glass and David Warrilow. Shortly thereafter they were joined by Fred Neumann, whom they had known & worked with in Europe. Maleczech collaborated on nearly every piece Mabou Mines produced. She is possessed of “a theatrical vision…antithetical to almost everything contemporary American theater is about… [She is an] inspiration as an artist, a feminist and a creative spirit” (Women in Theatre).

“I don’t consider performers to be interpreters at all,” she said. “More like mediums.” A feisty, self-professed fan of all things “messy, confusing and chaotic,” Maleczech breathed life into an unforeseeable variety of theatrical inventions including: Madame Curie in Dead End Kids; Rose, the abused mutt in An Epidog and Ecco Porco; Lucia Joyce, the author’s daughter, in Lucia’s Chapters; Annette (the butcher) in Kroetz’s Through The Leaves; the title role in Mabou Mines' gender-reversed Lear.

Maleczech directed/adapted several works: Wrong Guys, from the hard-boiled novel by Jim Strahs; Vanishing Pictures, based on Poe’s “Mystery of Marie Roget”; Beckett’s Imagination Dead Imagine (as a hologram); The Bribe by Terry O’Reilly; her own Sueños, inspired by the life of Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz; Belén: A Book of Hours, written by Catherine Sasanov, with music by Liliana Felipe, which examined the plight of Mexican women; and Song For New York (written by Maggie DuBris, Imelda O'Reilly, Migdalia Cruz, Karen Kandel and Patricia Spears Jones), an homage to the city that was her home for more than 40 years.

Maleczech’s alliance with Lee Breuer is the stuff of avant-theatrical legend. A shared appetite for complexity coupled with deep and abiding respect sustained their tumultuous personal and professional lives. In addition to working together for a half century, they had two children.

Outside of Mabou Mines, Maleczech created Fire Works with Valeria Vasilevski; collaborated with Joanne Akalaitis on Genet’s The Screens and Prisoner of Love; and worked with, among other directors, Peter Sellars, Erin Mee, Frederick Wiseman and Martha Clarke. She appeared in numerous feature films, commercial and independent, and on television in “Law & Order” and “E.R”. She was a much beloved mentor of Mabou Mines' Resident Artist Program, (Mabou Mines/Suite) which has nurtured coming generations of experimental theater artists since 1991.

In 2012 Maleczech began developing a new work, Imagining The Imaginary Invalid, using the structure and characters from Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid. Her daughter, performer/director/choreographer Clove Galilee, will continue developing the work as director.



Imagining The Imaginary Invalid (A work-in-progress)

Song for New York (by Kandel, O’Reilly, Cruz, Jones, DuBris), Mabou Mines - 2007

Belén: A Book of Hours (by C. Sasanov) Mabou Mines - 1999

The Bribe (by Terry O’Reilly) Mabou Mines - 1993

Sueños (adapted by R. Maleczech) Mabou Mines - 1987

Imagination Dead Imagine (by S. Beckett) Mabou Mines - 1984

Wrong Guys (by J. Strahs) Mabou Mines - 1981

Vanishing Pictures (adapted by B. Brown) Mabou Mines - 1980

Fire Works (Dir. with Valeria Vasilevski) - 1987


Woman #2, ...we would find landscapes - 2012

Sri Moo Parahamsa, Summa Dramatica, dir. Lee Breuer - 2009

Lucia Joyce, Lucia’s Chapters, dir. Sharon Fogarty - 2007

The Mother, Red Beads, dir. Lee Breuer - 2005

Lucia 1976, Cara Lucia, dir. Sharon Fogarty - 2003

Midnight Rose, Ecco Porco, dir. Lee Breuer - 2001

Rose The Dog, An Epidog, dir. Lee Breuer - 1995

Old, Reel to Real, dir. Frederick Neumann - 1994

The Mother, “Mother”, dir. John E. McGrath - 1994

Mae Garga, In The Jungle of Cities, dir. Anne Bogart - 1991

Lear, Mabou Mines Lear, dir. Lee Breuer 1990

The Agent, It’s A Man’s World, dir. Greg Mehrten - 1985

Annette, Through the Leaves, dir. JoAnne Akalaitis - 1984

Curator, Cold Harbor, dir. William Raymond - 1983

Solo, Hajj, dir. Lee Breuer - 1983

Madame Curie, Dead End Kids, dir. JoAnne Akalaitis - 1980

Rose, The Shaggy Dog Animation, dir. Lee Breuer - 1978

Dressed Like an Egg, dir. JoAnne Akalaitis - 1977

Chorus, The B. Beaver Animation, dir. Lee Breuer - 1974, 1990

Music for Voices, Philip Glass - 1972

Woman, Play, dir. Lee Breuer - 1971

Vi, Come and Go, dir. Lee Breuer - 1971

LifeLine, The Red Horse Animation, dir. Lee Breuer - 1971


La Goulue, Belle Epoque, dir. Martha Clarke, Lincoln Center Theater - 2004

Edith, First Love, dir. E. Mee, NY Theater Workshop - 2001

Lady Wishfort, The Way of the World, dir. D. Greenspan, Public Theater - 1992

Mistress Quickly, Henry IV, Part I & II, dir. J. Akalaitis, Public Theater - 1991

Grandmother, Woyzeck, dir. J. Akalaitis, Public Theater - 1992

Sorrow, Zangezi, dir. Peter Sellars, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) - 1987

Solo, Prisoner of Love, dir. J. Akalaitis, NY Theater Workshop - 1995


The Grandmother, The Children of Heracles, dir. P. Sellars, 4-city European tour - 2003

Winnie, Happy Days, dir. R. Woodruff, La Jolla Playhouse - 1996

The Mother, The Screens, dir. J. Akalaitis, Guthrie Theatre - 1989

Solo – “Mama”, Life and Fate, dir. Frederick Wiseman, A.R.T., Boston - 1988

Sorrow, Zangezi, dir. P. Sellars, MOCA, L.A. - 1987

Katrin, Mother Courage & Her Children, Paris Studio Theatre - 1969

Artaud’s Viewpoint, The Messingkau Dialogues, Traverse Theater, Edinburgh - 1968

(W 1) *, Play, American Cultural Center, Paris - 1967

Lula, Dutchman, Theatre de Poche, Paris - 1967

The Girl, Telemachus Clay, Studio Theatre of Paris - 1966

Developed & performed original & Commedia dell'arte works, San Francisco Mime Troupe - 1961-64

Countess Geschwitz, Lulu, The Playhouse, San Francisco - 1964

Asa, The Run, San Francisco Tape Music Center - 1964

Solange, The Maids, San Francisco Tape Music Center - 1963

Martirio, The House of Bernarda Alba, San Francisco Actors’ Workshop - 1963

The Medium, Rashomon, The Interplayers, San Francisco - 1962

Event for Actors, San Francisco Tape Music Center - 1962

Dame Pliant, The Alchemist, San Francisco Actors’ Workshop - 1962

Ballad Singer’s Wife, Galileo, San Francisco Actors’ Workshop - 1961

Emily, Our Town, The Interplayers, San Francisco - 1960


Goody Osborne, The Crucible, dir. Nicholas Hightner, 20th Century Fox - 1996

Woman at Subway, Sleepers, dir. Barry Levinson, Propaganda Films - 1996

Sandman, dir. Marco Capalbo - 1996

Basquiat, dir. Julian Schnabel - 1996

Sleepwalker, Angela, dir. Rebecca Miller - 1995

Shopkeeper, Ballad of Little Jo, Maggie Greenwald - 1993

Mac, dir. John Turturro - 1992

Cynthia, In the Soup, dir. Alex Rockwell - 1992

The Cabinet of Dr Ramirez, dir. Peter Sellars - 1991

Black Holes, dir. Don Scardino - 1988

Gloria, Anna, dir. Yurek Bogayevicz - 1987

Mrs. Malone, C.H.U.D., dir. Douglas Cheek - 1984

Marie Curie, Dead End Kids, dir. JoAnne Akalaitis - 1986

Anna Walentynowics, Far From Poland, dir. Jill Godmilow - 1984

Eleanor, Strong Medicine, dir. Richard Foreman - 1979

The Double, Coup-Age, French Independent Film - 1969


Law & Order: Criminal Intent, NBC - 2004

Law & Order, NBC - 2003

E.R., NBC - 1997

Subway Stories: Fern’s Heart of Darkness, dir. Patricia Benoit, HBO - 1997

Urban Anxiety: 7 Out Of 7, series dir. Bob Balaban, Fox - 1997

Darrow, PBS - 1991

The Street, dir. Robert Altman - 1985


The Mist, dir. Bill Raymond, NPR - 1983

The Joey Schmerda Story, dir. Bill Raymond, NPR - 1982

The Android Sisters - 1982-2006

The Ruby Series, dir. Tom Lopez, NPR - 1982–present



Best Performance, Mabou Mines Lear - 1990

Best Performance, Hajj - 1983

Best Performance, Through the Leaves - 1984

Best Design (shared with Julie Archer), Vanishing Pictures - 1980

Sustained Achievement, Mabou Mines - 1986


Best Solo Performance, Hajj - 1990

Best Director, Wrong Guys - 1981

Best Director, Vanishing Pictures - 1980

Best Ensemble, Shaggy Dog Animation - 1978

NEW YORK FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS: Performance Art / Emerging Forms - 1981

FESTIVAL DU THEATRE DES AMERIQUES/MONTREAL: Best Performance, Through the Leaves - 1985

BOSTON GLOBE: Best Solo Performance, Life and Fate - 1988

ZEISLER AWARD (TCG) For Contributions to the American Not-for-Profit Theater - 1989

NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS: Distinguished Artist Fellowship - 1991

PEW CHARITABLE TRUST: National Theater Artists Residency Fellowship at New York Theater Workshop - 1992-94

FOX FOUNDATION FELLOWSHIP: For research into the life of Lucia Joyce - 2000

U.S./MEXICO EXCHANGE: Exchange Fellow - 1996

SPENCER CHERASHORE AWARD: For Lifetime Dedication to Not-For-Profit Theatre - 2001

CAIRO INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL FOR EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE: Certificate of Outstanding Merit for her “influential, pioneering role in experimental theatre.” - 2006

EDWIN BOOTH AWARD: To the Artistic Directors of Mabou Mines for Contributions to Theatre - 2007

FOUNDATION FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS: Fellowship in Theater Arts - 2009

Recipient of Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre - 2010

Named USA Gracie Fellow in Theater Arts by United States Artists - 2010

Inducted (posthumously) into the Off Broadway Hall of Fame by The Off Broadway Alliance - 2014


Ruth Maleczech died at age 74 from cancer (at the home of her son Lute) in Brooklyn.[4] She is survived by her husband Lee Breuer, son Lute (spouse: Martha Elliot) of Brooklyn, NY, daughter Clove (spouse: Jenny Rogers) of Tiberon, CA, as well as sister, Patricia Adams of Minneapolis, MN, brother, Francis of Huntingdon Valley, PA, nieces and nephews and her granddaughter Bella Breuer.


  1. ^ Review of Ruth Maleczech as Lear,; accessed October 6, 2013.
  2. ^ Review of Ruth Maleczech as Lear,; accessed October 6, 2013.
  3. ^ Amateau, Albert (October 17, 2013). "Ruth Maleczech, 74, a founder of avant-garde troupe". The Villager. Archived from the original on September 26, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Ruth Maleczech, Beacon of Stage Avant-Garde, Dies at 74". The New York Times. October 2, 2013. Retrieved October 6, 2013. 

External links[edit]