Ruth Maleczech
Born in Cleveland to an immigrant steel worker and a seamstress and raised in the Arizona house they built, founding co-artistic director Ruth Maleczech was the first in her family to attend college, beginning theater studies at UCLA at 16.  From there she went to San Francisco to work, first, with Herbert Blau at The Actor’s Workshop, then with Ronnie Davis in what became the San Francisco Mime Troupe.  In San Francisco, she lived with co-founding director Lee Breuer; they went to Paris and for six years made good money dubbing films, sufficient to fund their burgeoning theatrical experiments.  It was in France that she first encountered the work of the Polish director and drama theorist Jerzy Grotowski; she also spent a month in East Berlin studying, observing rehearsals and attending performances by Bertholt Brecht’s storied Berliner Ensemble.

A fearless actor, Maleczech has collaborated on nearly every piece Mabou Mines has produced since 1970 and is possessed of “a theatrical vision…antithetical to almost everything contemporary American theater is about… [She is an] inspiration as an artist, a feminist and a creative spirit” (Women in Theatre).
 
“I don’t consider performers to be interpreters at all,” she says.  “More like mediums.”  A feisty, self-professed fan of all things “messy, confusing and chaotic,” Maleczech has breathed life into an unforeseeable variety of theatrical inventions including Madame Curie in Dead End Kids; Rose, the abused mutt bitch in An Epidog and Ecco Porco; Lucia Joyce, the author’s daughter, in Lucia’s Chapters by Sharon Fogarty; the butcher in Kroetz’s Through The Leaves; the title role in Shakespeare’s King Lear.
 
First and foremost an actress, Maleczech has nevertheless directed several works: Wrong Guys, from the hard-boiled novel by Jim Strahs; Vanishing Pictures, based on Poe’s “Mystery of Marie Roget”; Beckett’s Imagination Dead Imagine; The Bribe by Terry O’Reilly; her own Sueños and Belén: A Book of Hours, examining the plight of contemporary Mexican women; and most recently, Song For New York, a feminine response to 9/11.
 
Maleczech’s alliance with Lee Breuer is the stuff of avant-theatrical legend.  A shared appetite for complexity coupled with deep and abiding respect has sustained their tumultuous personal and professional lives.  In addition to working together for a good half century, they have raised two children, Clove and Lute.
 
Outside of Mabou Mines, Maleczech created Fire Works with Valeria Vasilevski, collaborated with Joanne Akalaitis on Genet’s The Screens and Prisoner of Love, and worked with, among other directors, Peter Sellars, Erin Mee, Frederick Wiseman and Martha Clarke.  She has appeared in numerous feature films, commercial and independent, and on television in “Law & Order” and “E.R”. She is a mentor of  the company’s Resident Artist Program, Mabou Mines/Suite, nurturing coming generations of experimental theater artists since 1991.
 
Maleczech has received a lioness’s share of awards including three OBIEs for performance (Hajj by Lee Breuer; Through the Leaves by Franz Xavier Kroetz; the title role in Mabou Mines Lear), and another for design (Vanishing Pictures, shared with Julie Archer). She is an NEA Distinguished Artist and a Fellow of the New York Foundation of the Arts; among other institutions, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture has recognized her singular contributions to experimental theater.  In 2009 she was awarded a theater fellowship by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the organization established by John Cage, Jasper Johns and other artists to assist and encourage innovation, experimentation and potential in the arts.
 
Maleczech has begun developing a new work based on Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid, an idea suggested by her daughter, performer/director Clove Galilee.  “I might do it in really bad French,” she adds with subversive chuckle, “and I’m excited to collaborate with Clove as choreographer.”
 
Despite her reputation for feistiness, Maleczech is tremendously warm, generous and nurturing, beloved by those who share and bridge her personal and professional lives.  “It takes a lot of big egos to make something worth the time, money and talent,” she says.  “I fight as hard as I can for as long as I can for the things I am passionate about, but I know I’m not the only knife in the drawer – and not always the sharpest one either.”

 

WORK HISTORY:
 
DIRECTION/ADAPTATION
Imagining The Imaginary Invalid  (A work-in-progress)
Song for New York (by Kandel, O’Reilly, Cruz, Jones, DuBris), Mabou Mines - 2007
Belén: A Book of Hours (by C. Sasanov) Mabou Mines - 1999
The Bribe (by Terry O’Reilly) Mabou Mines - 1993    
Sueños (adapted by R. Maleczech) Mabou Mines - 1987
Imagination Dead Imagine (by S. Beckett) Mabou Mines - 1984
Wrong Guys (by J. Strahs) Mabou Mines - 1981
Vanishing Pictures (adapted by B. Brown) Mabou Mines - 1980
Fire Works (Dir. with Valeria Vasilevski) - 1987
 
PERFORMANCE (with MABOU MINES)
Woman #2, ...we would find landscapes - 2012
Sri Moo Parahamsa, Summa Dramatica, dir. Lee Breuer - 2009
Lucia Joyce, Lucia’s Chapters, dir. Sharon Fogarty - 2007
The Mother, Red Beads, dir. Lee Breuer - 2005
Lucia 1976, Cara Lucia, dir. Sharon Fogarty - 2003
Midnight Rose, Ecco Porco, dir. Lee Breuer - 2001
Rose The Dog, An Epidog, dir. Lee Breuer - 1995
Old, Reel to Real, dir. Frederick Neumann - 1994
The Mother, “Mother”, dir. John E. McGrath - 1994
Mae Garga, In The Jungle of Cities, dir. Anne Bogart - 1991
Lear, Mabou Mines Lear, dir. Lee Breuer 1990
The Agent, It’s A Man’s World, dir. Greg Mehrten - 1985
Annette, Through the Leaves, dir. JoAnne Akalaitis - 1984
Curator, Cold Harbor, dir. William Raymond - 1983
Solo, Hajj, dir. Lee Breuer - 1983
Madame Curie, Dead End Kids, dir. JoAnne Akalaitis - 1980
Rose, The Shaggy Dog Animation, dir. Lee Breuer - 1978
Dressed Like an Egg, dir. JoAnne Akalaitis - 1977                                                       
Chorus, The B. Beaver Animation, dir. Lee Breuer - 1974, 1990
Music for Voices, Philip Glass - 1972
Woman, Play, dir. Lee Breuer - 1971
Vi, Come and Go, dir. Lee Breuer  - 1971
LifeLine, The Red Horse Animation, dir. Lee Breuer - 1971
 
OTHER NEW YORK THEATER:
La Goulue, Belle Epoque, dir. Martha Clarke, Lincoln Center Theater - 2004
Edith, First Love, dir. E. Mee, NY Theater Workshop - 2001
Lady Wishfort, The Way of the World, dir. D. Greenspan, Public Theater - 1992
Mistress Quickly, Henry IV, Part I & II, dir. J. Akalaitis, Public Theater - 1991      
Grandmother, Woyzeck, dir. J. Akalaitis, Public Theater - 1992
Sorrow, Zangezi, dir. Peter Sellars, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) - 1987
Solo, Prisoner of Love, dir. J. Akalaitis, NY Theater Workshop - 1995
 
INTERNATIONAL/REGIONAL THEATER:
The Grandmother, The Children of Heracles, dir. P. Sellars, 4-city European tour - 2003                                                                                                     
Winnie, Happy Days, dir. R. Woodruff, La Jolla Playhouse  - 1996
The Mother, The Screens, dir. J. Akalaitis, Guthrie Theatre - 1989
Solo – “Mama”, Life and Fate, dir. Frederick Wiseman, A.R.T., Boston - 1988
Sorrow, Zangezi, dir. P. Sellars, MOCA, L.A. - 1987
Katrin, Mother Courage & Her Children, Paris Studio Theatre - 1969
Artaud’s Viewpoint, The Messingkau Dialogues, Traverse Theater, Edinburgh - 1968
(W 1) *, Play, American Cultural Center, Paris - 1967
Lula, Dutchman, Theatre de Poche, Paris - 1967
The Girl, Telemachus Clay, Studio Theatre of Paris - 1966
Developed & performed original & Commedia dell Arte works, San Francisco Mime Troupe - 1961-64
Countess Geschwitz, Lulu, The Playhouse, San Francisco - 1964
Asa, The Run, San Francisco Tape Music Center - 1964
Solange, The Maids, San Francisco Tape Music Center - 1963
Martirio, The House of Bernarda Alba, San Francisco Actors’ Workshop - 1963
The Medium, Rashomon, The Interplayers, San Francisco - 1962
Event for Actors, San Francisco Tape Music Center - 1962
Dame Pliant, The Alchemist, San Francisco Actors’ Workshop - 1962
Ballad Singer’s Wife, Galileo, San Francisco Actors’ Workshop - 1961
Emily, Our Town, The Interplayers, San Francisco  - 1960
 
FILM:
Goody Osborne, The Crucible, dir. Nicholas Hightner, 20th Century Fox - 1996
Woman at Subway, Sleepers, dir. Barry Levinson, Propaganda Films - 1996
Sandman, dir. Marco Capalbo - 1996
Basquiat, dir. Julian Schnabel - 1996
Sleepwalker, Angela, dir. Rebecca Miller - 1995
Shopkeeper, Ballad of Little Jo, Maggie Greenwald - 1993
Mac, dir. John Turturro - 1992
Cynthia, In the Soup, dir. Alex Rockwell - 1992
The Cabinet of Dr Ramirez, dir. Peter Sellars - 1991
Black Holes, dir. Don Scardino - 1988
Gloria, Anna, dir. Yurek Bogayevicz - 1987
Mrs. Malone, C.H.U.D., dir. Douglas Cheek - 1984
Marie Curie, Dead End Kids, dir. JoAnne Akalaitis - 1986
Anna Walentynowics, Far From Poland, dir. Jill Godmilow - 1984
Eleanor, Strong Medicine, dir. Richard Foreman - 1979
The Double, Coup-Age, French Independent Film - 1969
 
TELEVISION:
Law & Order: Criminal Intent, NBC - 2004
Law & Order, NBC - 2003
E.R., NBC - 1997
Subway Stories: Fern’s Heart of Darkness, dir. Patricia Benoit, HBO - 1997
Urban Anxiety: 7 Out Of 7, series dir. Bob Balaban, Fox - 1997
Darrow, PBS - 1991
The Street, dir. Robert Altman - 1985
 
RADIO:
The Mist, dir. Bill Raymond, NPR - 1983
The Joey Schmerda Story, dir. Bill Raymond, NPR - 1982
The Android Sisters - 1982-2006
The Ruby Series, dir. Tom Lopez, NPR - 1982-present
 
AWARDS
 
OBIE AWARDS:
Best Performance, Mabou Mines Lear - 1990        
Best Performance, Hajj - 1983        
Best Performance, Through the Leaves - 1984
Best Design (shared with Julie Archer), Vanishing Pictures - 1980
Sustained Achievement, Mabou Mines - 1986
 
VILLAGER DOWNTOWN THEATER AWARDS:
Best Solo Performance, Hajj - 1990        
Best Director, Wrong Guys - 1981
Best Director, Vanishing Pictures - 1980
Best Ensemble, Shaggy Dog Animation - 1978
 

NEW YORK FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS: Performance Art / Emerging Forms - 1981
FESTIVAL DU THEATRE DES AMERIQUES/MONTREAL: Best Performance, Through the Leaves - 1985
BOSTON GLOBE: Best Solo Performance, Life and Fate - 1988
ZEISLER AWARD (TCG) For Contributions to the American Not-for-Profit Theater - 1989
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS: Distinguished Artist Fellowship - 1991
PEW CHARITABLE TRUST: National Theater Artists Residency Fellowship at New York Theater Workshop - 1992-94
FOX FOUNDATION FELLOWSHIP: For research into the life of Lucia Joyce - 2000
U.S./MEXICO EXCHANGE: Exchange Fellow - 1996
SPENCER CHERASHORE AWARD: For Lifetime Dedication to Not-For-Profit Theatre - 2001
CAIRO INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL FOR EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE: Certificate of Outstanding Merit for her “influential, pioneering role in experimental theatre.” - 2006
EDWIN BOOTH AWARD: To the Artistic Directors of Mabou Mines for Contributions to Theatre - 2007     
FOUNDATION FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS: Fellowship in Theater Arts - 2009
Recipient of Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre - 2010
Named USA Gracie Fellow in Theater Arts by United States Artists - 2010
Inducted into the Off Broadway Hall of Fame by The Off Broadway Alliance - 2014