The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
Squat Theatre began as a theatrical ensemble initiating independent stage work in 1970s Budapest, which was deep in the throes of the Cold War. Squat’s radical notions of theatre questioned the very act of spectatorship, the boundary between art and life, the fictive and the real. Their work was heavily censored and often banned. The company was forced to go underground, performing in the privacy of members’ apartments and on unusual sites (e.g., an empty chapel). In 1976, the group emigrated to France. Their success at the 1977 Nancy Festival, when they took the name Squat Theatre, was followed by their immigration to New York, where Squat became a major presence in the downtown art and theatre world through 1985.
In New York, the group — its core composed of Peter Halasz, Anna Koos, Peter Berg, Stephan Balint and Eva Buchmuller and their six children — rented an abandoned four-story building on West 23rd Street with a storefront on the first floor for performances. Spectators sat on risers facing the street while the stage was set inside, in front of the segmented bay-window with the street visible through it.
Squat's three storefront productions, Pig, Child, Fire! (special citation at the Obies in 1978), Andy Warhol's Last Love, and Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free, winner of the Best New American Play Obie Award in 1981, garnered the attention of theatre critics and audiences worldwide, among them Richard Schechner, Arthur Sainer, Bonnie Marranca, Ivan Nagel, Susan Sontag, Alisa Solomon, Peter Sellars, and others.
Afternoon Session: Join us for an afternoon of screenings of Squat Theatre's work, including rarely-seen footage of their early Budapest performances.
Evening Session: We are proud to host Squat company members Anna Koos and Eva Buchmuller as part of a panel on the company's work and impact. Also invited are Judith Halasz, Eszter Balint, Boris Major, Rebecca Major, Simon Daillie and Cora Fisher – Squat’s second generation.