The Connection Collection

The Connection Collection

New York, New York: The Living Theater; Blue Note, 1959-1962. Item #5087

Handbill from premier, two flyers from initial run, The Music from “The Connection” LP, five press releases from the Living Theatre regarding The Connection, two postcards sent by Jackie McLean to Judith Malina, two silkscreen posters advertising the play, and program for 1961 Netherlands performance. All materials in very good or near-fine condition.

Directed by Judith Malina, designed by Julian Beck, written by Jack Gelber, and scored by jazz pianist and composer Freddie Redd, The Connection follows a theater producer’s efforts to stage a play with heroin addicts, who also happen to be jazz musicians. The characters talk and play jazz while waiting for their dealer to arrive. The Connection became The Living Theater’s first big success, establishing it as a major player in American theater; Blue Note released the original score of the play in 1960, the play toured Europe in 1961, and Shirley Clarke’s film adaptation premiered in 1962. In the first years of the 1960s, The Connection was performed 722 times.

The play is notable for its realist depiction of how heroin addiction cut across racial and class lines in New York and for featuring several Black avant-garde jazz musicians of the time. Freddie Redd composed the music and performed it in the first run of the play with his quartet, while--as one of the press releases included in this collection announces--Cecil Taylor and his quartet, including Archie Shepp, filled in for a three-week run while Redd’s quartet was occupied with the film adaption. The play’s influence extended beyond the cultural sphere: upon seeing a Narcotics Anonymous benefit performance of The Connection (during which one socialite dramatically presented a $500 check at the conclusion of the first act) the New York City Commissioner of Correction, Anna Kross, announced her opinion that all city workers who interact with people suffering from addiction should see the play.

Price: $1,500.00