Squat Theatre

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Squat Theatre
Squat Company in Paris.jpg
Company in Paris, 1976
Formation 1977, Budapest-Paris-Rotterdam
Dissolved 1991, New York City
Type Theatre group
Purpose experimental, provocative
Peter (Breznyik) Berg, Marianne Kollar, Péter Halász, Anna Koós, Stephan Balint, Eva Buchmuller, Eric Daille, Agnes Santha, Klara Palotai, Eszter Balint, Boris Major and Rebecca Major
Artistic director(s)
Eva Buchmuller
Notable members
Stephan Balint, Peter (Breznyik) Berg, Péter Halász
Website squattheatre.com

Squat Theatre (1977-1991) was a Hungarian experimental theatre company from Budapest, which left Hungary for Paris, France, and then New York City, where they built a reputation for experimental theatre.[1][2]

Originally, the Company was known as Kassák Haz Studió located at Uzsoki-utca 57, Budapest). For political and aesthetic reasons the Company emigrated to Paris then to the United States where they arrived in New York City first living at the Hotel Chelsea then at where they lived, worked and performed from 1977 to 1985. Several members left Squat Theatre in 1985 when they lost the lease to their space on 23rd Street including Anna Koós, Péter Halász, Eric Daille, and Agnes Santha.[3] The remainder of the Company continued until 1991. Squat Theatre's last play was Full Moon Killer, 1991 and performed at The Kitchen in New York City.

The space on 23rd Street had a large window with a street entrance, and spectators sat in the back of the store facing the storefront window and the street beyond.[1][2] Events took place with the street as backdrop, with the intention of unsettling the events, the relationship among the members of the group, and the audience. This set-up was first used in Rotterdam at 129a Van Oldenbarneveltstraat in the show Pig, Child, Fire! which was commissioned by the Toneelraad Rotterdam.[4][5]

The six founding members of Squat Theatre (shown left to right in the 1976 Paris photograph) are Peter (Breznyik) Berg, Marianne Kollar (3rd), Péter Halász, Anna Koós, Stephan Balint and Eva Buchmuller.[6] Members of Squat Theatre were: Eric Daille, Agnes Santha, Klara Palotai, Eszter Balint, Boris Major and Rebecca Major. Important contributing actors were Sheryl Sutton, Sandi Fiddler, Kathleen Kendall, Nico, Yossi Gutmann (viola), Shirley Clarke, Richard Leacock, August Darnell, Mark Boone Junior, Sue Williams, Jane Smith, Larry Solomon, Ivan Jakovits and Jan Gontarczyk.


In 1969 Anna Koós, Péter Halász[7][8] and Stephan Balint[3][9] from the University Theatre of Budapest created an independent theatre group called Kassák Haz Studió.[1]

In 1972 they were censored by the Hungarian authorities for "political and esthetic radicalism,"[10] and banned from performing in public.[1] In the next four years they wrote 36 performance events: plays, sketches and improvisations. These were shown in apartments, staircases, streets, beaches, and the countryside.[11] "Manifesto" by István Bálint (Stephan Balint) on behalf of studio kassak and published in Schmuck, Hungary, march-april, 1973 issue.[12][13][3]

Various plays were performed in 1973 including Alice and Her Sisters with and by Eva Buchmüller, Marianne Kollár, Anna Koós and István Bálint.[14] Tribute to Miron Bialoszewski with Péter Halász, Péter Breznyik (Peter Berg) and Anna Koós. Performed at the Polish Cultural Center in Budapest. Birds and Red Epaulets. Live statues situated along the chapel perimeter: Éva Buchmüller sings a Jewish song sitting like the Virgin Mary holding a young man (Can Togay) on her lap, in the position of Michelangelo's Pieta.[15] A mother (Anna Koós) sings a partisan song to her baby (Galus Halász).

The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov was performed for the first time at Dohány utca 20, Budapest. They used as text the abridged version of the original play limited to the lines of the three sisters. The company left Hungary for the West.

While living in Paris, in 1977 Tamas Szentjoby suggested the company changed its name to Squat Theatre. The company created their first play for a Western audience: Pig, Child, Fire! The play was set in a storefront in Rotterdam, a setting that became their trademark. After touring Nancy, France, Shiraz,[16] Baltimore, Paris, the company arrived with their goat at the Hotel Chelsea in New York City.[17][18]

Andy Warhol’s Last Love opened on 23rd Street in 1978. The Company went on tour to Hamburg, Rome. Milan, Florence, Belgrade, Rotterdam and Brussels. It won a Grand Prix at the Belgrade International Theatre Festival (BITEF), and the Italian Critics’ Award for the Best Foreign Performance.[19][20][3]

Squat Theatre opened a Nightclub Club With Live Music in 1979 managed by Janos Gat and staffed by members of Squat Theatre featuring jazz, blues, rock and new wave.

In 1981 Mr Dead & Mrs Free premiered in Cologne. Commissioned by Ivan Nagel director of Theater der Welt and shown at Cologne’s “Theatres of the World” festival, Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free was filmed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder as part of his first and only documentary Theater in Trance.[21][22] It was also shown in New York City and Amsterdam. The show had a year and a half performance run on 23rd Street. It was awarded an Obie Award (1982) for the Best New American Play. It received a The Villager (Manhattan) Award. An open-air version of the show, The Battle of Sirolo was performed in August in Polverigi, Italy.[23][24][25]

In the summer of 1985 the theatre lost their eight year lease of their home and performance space on 23rd Street.




  • 1982 - Mr Dead & Mrs Free's Cafe, MoMA PS1, Long Island City. Exhibition by Eva Buchmuller and Stephan Balint.
  • 1982 - The Moments Before The Tragedy, The Kitchen, New York City. Exhibition by Eva Buchmuller and Stephan Balint.
  • 1984 - Suspense, Hallwalls, Buffalo, New York. Exhibition by Eva Buchmuller and Stephan Balint.[39]
  • 1984 - A Painted Show, Postmasters Gallery, New York City. Exhibition by Eva Buchmuller and Stephan Balint.
  • 1996 - Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free: A History of Squat Theatre (1969 – 1991), Artists Space, New York City. Exhibition by Eva Buchmuller.[40]
  • 2004 - An Exhibition of Photography by Endre Kovacs, Kassák House Studio – Squat Theatre: Photos of the History of the Hungarian Underground Theatre. September 9 to October 10, 2004. Ludwig Museum Budapest. Curated by Dr. Vera Baksa-Soos.[41]
  • 2013-14 - Rituals of Rented Island, Whitney Museum, New York City. Exhibition by Eva Buchmuller with Osvaldo Valdes, Architect.[42][43]



  1. ^ a b c d Koós, Anna (October 8, 2013). "Squat Theatre: Staging Life/Living on Stage". PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art. 35 (3). pp. 24–40. 
  2. ^ a b c d BROMBERG, CRAIG (May 4, 1986). "Squat Theatre--hungarians Take A Stance On America". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2018. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Stephan Balint, Influential Hungarian Playwright, Actor, Director and Poet, Is Dead at 64". The New York Theatre Wire. Retrieved July 29, 2018. 
  4. ^ "SQUAT THEATRE's first storefront building Rotterdam". Retrieved 2018-07-15. 
  5. ^ Drawing by Anne-Marie Duguet, Buchmuller, Koós. Squat Theatre. Artist Space, 1996, p.102.
  6. ^ PLACE DES ABBESSES, PARIS, photo_Eva Buchmuller_Buchmuller, Koós. Squat Theatre. Artist Space, 1996, p.48-49.
  7. ^ "Theatre boss to stage own funeral". BBC. Retrieved March 17, 2006. 
  8. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang. "Where The Walls Still Talk". The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2006. 
  9. ^ Cohen, Patricia. "Stephan Balint, 64, a Founder of the Squat Theater, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved December 2, 2007. 
  10. ^ Letter from Executive Committee to Peter Halasz, 14th District Municipal Council Record Office, Budapest, 24 January 1972, File No. 2203X, Squat Theatre Book, p.3.
  11. ^ "LIST OF PLAYS made in Budapest, Hungary between 1969 - 1972". Retrieved 2018-07-14. 
  12. ^ "Schmuck". Retrieved 2018-08-06. 
  13. ^ István Bálint, "Manifesto", Written in the name of "studio-kassak", Budapest, April, 1972_Buchmuller, Koós. Squat Theatre. Artist Space, 1996, p.12.
  14. ^ Buchmuller, Koós. Squat Theatre. Artist Space, 1996, p.16-17.
  15. ^ Buchmuller, Koós. Squat Theatre. Artist Space, 1996, p.26.
  16. ^ Mahljouli, Vali. "THE UTOPIAN STAGE:FESTIVAL OF ARTS, SHIRAZ-PERSEPOLIS (1967-77)" (PDF). Archaelogy of the Final Decade. Retrieved July 25, 2018. 
  17. ^ Cregan, David. "Introduces a New Troupe". Plays and Players. Retrieved July 21, 2018. 
  18. ^ "Pig, Child, Fire!". Poster 11th Shiraz Art Festival. August 18, 1977. Retrieved July 28, 2018. 
  19. ^ Weisbrod, Carl. "TRACKING DOWN PORN IN THE BIG APPLE". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 8, 2018. 
  20. ^ Office of the Mayor, Downtown Enforcement Unit. Re. Squat Theatre, West 23rd. St. October 13, 1978_Buchmuller, Koós. Squat Theatre. Artist Space, 1996, p.148-149.
  21. ^ "Theater in Trance". Film Society Lincoln Center. 1981. 
  22. ^ "Theater in Trance". Retrieved 2018-07-13. 
  23. ^ Theatre, Squat. "The Battle of Sirolo". Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
  24. ^ "SQUAT THEATRE". PERFORMA 13. November 24, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2018. 
  25. ^ "The Quirky Invincibility of Mr. Dead and Mrs. Free". HYPERALLERGIC. November 13, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2018. 
  26. ^ Stirritt, David (December 3, 1980). "Three sisters Play by Anton Chekhov. Produced and performed by Squat Theater". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  27. ^ Rich, Frank. "SQUAT'S 'THREE SISTERS'". Squat Theatre. The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2018. 
  28. ^ Eva Buchmuller_Buchmuller, Koós. Squat Theatre. Artist Space, 1996, p.40-41.
  29. ^ "Squat Theatre and Crisis". Conditions of Poetic Production and Reception. 2010. Retrieved July 25, 2018. 
  30. ^ Shank, Theodore (1978). "Squat Theatre". Performing Arts Journal. 3 (2). pp. 61–69. 
  31. ^ Gussow, Mel (1956). "STAGE: SQUAT THEATER'S 'DREAMLAND BURNS'". New York Times. 
  32. ^ Gussow, Mel (December 4, 1987). "The Stage: 'Eldorado,' At Festival". New York Times. p. 5. 
  33. ^ "Pig, Child, Fire!". Retrieved 2018-07-27. 
  34. ^ "Andy Warhol's Last Love". Retrieved 2018-07-27. 
  35. ^ "Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free". Retrieved 2018-07-27. 
  36. ^ "A Matter of Facts 1982 w/ Squat Theatre". Retrieved 2018-07-13. 
  37. ^ "Tscherwonez". Retrieved August 10, 2018. 
  38. ^ "Tscherwonez". Retrieved August 10, 2018. 
  39. ^ deAK, Edit (October 8, 2013). "Installation / Exhibit" (PDF). Motives. Retrieved July 15, 2018. 
  40. ^ Buchmuller, Eva (March 30, 1996). "Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free: A History of Squat Theatre". Artists Space. Artists Space. Retrieved July 17, 2018. 
  41. ^ "PHOTOGRAPHS BY ENDRE KOVÁCS". Ludwig Museum. Ludwig Museum. September 9, 2004. Retrieved July 17, 2018. 
  42. ^ "Rituals of Rented Island:Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan, 1970–1980". whitney.org/. whitney museum. April 30, 2005. Retrieved July 11, 2018. 
  43. ^ Buchmuller, Eva (April 30, 2005). "Rituals of Rented Island:Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan, 1970–1980". evabuchmuller.net/. evabuchmuller.net. Retrieved July 17, 2018. 
  44. ^ "Squat Theatre Archives". www.library.ucdavis.edu. Retrieved 2018-08-13. 

External links[edit]


Ms. Daryl Morrison, Head, Special Collections / dmorrison@ucdavis.edu / 530 752 2112, videos, documents, set pieces.