Con Ed nearly ruins ‘The Brig’


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July 4, 1963, Vol. VIII, No. 37

Living Theatre Alive & Alight

The Living Theatre is alive and alight this week. There was some question about the latter and consequently the former last week, when Con Edison darkened the theatre for non-payment of bills. The best Wednesday-night house since “The Brig” opened a month and a half ago was turned away.

Some quick scrambling turned up the necessary dues to turn on the lights Thursday, but Con Ed, when presented with the payment, demanded an additional $300 deposit — within the hour, for action that day. The theatre management was up to the marathon. Within an hour they had $300. But Con Ed, none too sensitive either to the fine art of drama or the fine science of theatre economics, announced that the lights wouldn’t go on that night. It was necessary for an inspector to come first to the theatre as a “place of public assembly” — and an inspector wouldn’t be available for 48 to 72 hours. For the Living Theatre, this spelled a possible seven missed performances — and possible disaster.

Well-versed in the ways of non-violent protest, the management quickly arranged a sit-in at Con Edison’s doors, replete with signs and marchers. This brought out 25 Con Edison executives who attempted to form a human wall to hide the protest group from passersby. A Con Ed public relations official protested the protest. Workmen tried to hid the group with screens.

Finally light made right. Embarrassed Con Edison capitulated, an inspector was found, the lights wen on, and “The Brig” played its weekend performances.

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