With its singular medley of war scenes, childbirth and musical and dance routines, the award-winning war-disco musical “Mr Dead & Mrs Free” (1982) erases the boundaries between art, everyday life and fiction.
“Mr Dead & Mrs Free” presents the radical approach that the drama collective Squat Theatre explored during the years in New York in the 1970s and 1980s. The film mixes documentary images with music and live theatre footage, fused into a rare multimedia performance.
After the screening, the artist collective coyote discusses Squat Theatre’s collective and radical way of contrasting unrehearsed reality with imaginative fiction. How can this approach be used to reformulate reality and envisage an alternative future?
Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free
Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free is a war-disco musical set in 1980’s New York City depicting death, betrayal and desire. In a multimedia performance that combines documentary images with music and live-recorded theatre, Squat Theatre blurs the boundary between reality and fiction. An idiosyncratic conglomerate of war scenes, childbirth, musical and dance numbers which is played both on a stage and outside in the street. As a stage play, “Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free” won the Obie Awards for “Best New American Play” in 1982.
Squat theatre was a theatre collective founded in Budapest in 1969. Due to trouble with Hungarian authorities the collective emigrated 1976, first to Paris and then to New York. In a boutique with a large storefront window facing 256 West 23rd Street, the collective worked, lived and performed between 1977-1985.
With roots in the European avant-garde theatre, Squat Theatre created a number of experimental plays that moved within a multimedia borderland between film, theatre and performance – where the reality outside the store was constantly part of the fiction.
Squat Theatre’s core members were Peter Berg, Marianne Koller, Péter Halász, Anna Koós, Stephan Balint and Eva Buchmuller.
coyote is a multidisciplinary artist collective, founded in Stockholm, 2017. coyote’s collective practice is constantly in flux and moves between curatorial and artistic work. In addition to several self-produced exhibitions and projects, coyote has recently had a solo exhibition at NSFW/SVILOVA, Gothenburg and participated in group exhibitions at KØS – Museum of art in the public spaces, Køge, Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm and ISSUES gallery, Stockholm.
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The Film Club editorial team
Lena Essling, curator, Catrin Lundqvist, curator.
What has the Film Club shown before?
Organised in collaboration with coyote and The Royal Institute of Art.