Squat Theatre

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Squat Theatre Company in Paris, 1976.

Squat Theatre (1977–1991) was a Hungarian theatre company from Budapest which left Hungary for Paris and then New York City where they performed experimental theatre in a storefront on 23rd Street.


Set of Full Moon Killer, 1990.
Peter Berg, theatre on 23rd street, 1981.
Mr Dead & Mrs. Free, poster, 1982.
  • And our fantasy land became a small storefront on 23rd street.
  • We were a group of alien people in an alien environment.
  • Plays get old much faster than paintings or music.
  • What we try to do is not to get a limitation on what we call art.
  • Through the store window, we opened the Theatre to the Real, inviting trouble and fun.
  • in this unlimited theatre space, fantasy became real and accident became fiction.
  • And nothing changed, you just can't beat fantasy.
    • #40 NEW OBSERVATIONS Guest Editors Eva Buchmuller and Stephan Balint. ISSN 0737-5387

Quotes about Squat Theatre[edit]

  • Squat Theatre was a major presence in the downtown art and theater world of New York, where the group lived and worked from 1977 until 1985.[1]
  • After their performances were banned by the Hungarian government, they resorted to performing in members' apartments—a solution they embraced.[1]
  • In 1976 the authorities gave them the "choice" to either cease doing theater or leave the country and never return.[1]
  • Squat emigrated, first to Paris and then to New York. In 1977, the company presented their first storefront play, a commission by the Rotterdam Arts Council in The Netherlands, taking the name Squat Theatre. Partially inspired by the squatter movement in the West, the company's new name also grew out of their determination to occupy blank spots on the map of artistic and intellectual terrain.[1]
  • The film Mr. Dead and Mrs. Free, described by Squat Theatre as "an open journey through situations, styles, and moods; an 'Arabian Nights' with heroes and legends written on the New York wind whistling the melody of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.'"[1]
  • Moments of "Pig, Child, Fire!" are vicious, violent, lewd, and tasteless.
  • Banned in Budapest for a performance that was considered by the authorities to be "obscene" and "apt to be misinterpreted from a political point of view", in its new work, entitled "Pig, Child, Fire!" Squat certainly deserves that double charge.
  • In the use of stage pictures, the merging of several media and the expansion of perspective, it is distantly related to some American experimental companies.
  • As an exercise inexperience, it is a throwback to Happenings. "Pig, Child, Fire!" is a performance in which the audience is half of the performance, our reaction is a primary ingredient.
  • At approximately 9:30 pm a taxicab pulls up outside, a bearded man gets out, and points a gun across 23rd street. A man on the other side of the road points a gun at him. Inside the theatre, a woman has the first man in her gunsight.
  • Occasionally, there are moments of grotesque, even of vaudeville, as is everything, with a straight, stony face.
    • New York Times, November 17, 1977, Mel Gussow, "Stage: Squat Abuses West 23rd Street"[1]


  1. a b c d e "SQUAT THEATRE". PERFORMA 13. November 24, 2013. 

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