click and scroll down on 23rd street to 256 West to read about the building's history on New York Songline
the plays, the movies, the concerts and the people at 256 West 23rd Street in New York City in the 1980's

In the spring of 2003 I received a phone call from Berlin from a friend who was looking for the original DNA soundtrack of
Squat Theatre's Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free, a film and live-show done in the early 80's. I was part of that theatre group, and
during the times when we worked on new plays, we were also running a movie theatre and a rock club in our storefront theatre
next to Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street. Squat Theatre group photos (1976, 1981, 1986)

He wanted to know what happened to the theatre group and to the Squat Club. When recently returned to New York he found a Loews multiplex on the spot where the Squat building used to stand with its New Orleans cast iron facade - a remnant of old Cavanagh Restaurant. Back then, in the early 80's he came to the club many times,and recalled hearing there Nico and John Cale, Sun Ra, the Lounge Lizards, Joe Bowie's Defunct, DNA, James Chance with the Contortions and later James White with the Blacks and with the Flaming Demonics.
I was kind of ambivalent toward his frustration about the vaguely scattered internet resources for his Squat Theatre search until - as his triumph - he sent me the following Guardian interview with Jonathan Demme (I.) that mentions Squat Theatre as his inspiration for shooting the film, Storefront Hichcock, in a storefront. ("The Guardian/NFT Interview" by Adrian Wooton. The Guardian, October 10 1998 (about Stop Making Sense/Swing Shift/Beloved/Storefront Hitchcock)
" I recalled this wonderful theatre group, called the Squat Theatre, that had been in New York in the '70s and '80s, and they performed in a storefront space. Often you came in, and just like in our film there would be a drape, and then they would find some excuse to open this drape and reveal the street.

On one amazing night they did this piece called Mr. Dead and Mrs. Free. In New York City traffic they had this military jeep, with four soldiers in it, do a screaming U-turn in the middle of Twenty Third Street. The jeep goes up on the sidewalk while people are walking by, the soldiers jump out of the jeep, run into the theatre, grab one of the characters in the play, put them in the jeep and then they're gone. You never see them again, and that was the most amazing moment in live theatre I've ever seen!

So when we were trying to think of how we'd make the Robin show have more going for it visually, we thought "Ah! Homage to The Squat Theatre."

Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free by Squat Theatre

On""On the Front" in Squat Theatre's Mr.Dead & Mrs.Free
(Peter Halasz, Peter Berg, Stephan Balint, Eric Daillie)

Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free "Closing Hour" in Squat Theatre's Mr.Dead & Mrs. Free
(Klara Palotai)g

I never intended to publicly revisit my more than 10 years with Squat Theatre and our lives and work at 256 West 23rd Street. Our break-up happened in several stages, and was not without pain.

But than I thought: "Why not?..Let's remember Squat Theatre". This website is destined to fill the void of Squat Theatre's presence on the net.

The site is under construction, and will be for some time. The best way to navigate the site is to follow the links of the navigation bar on the collection page or those that are listed on this page.

If you would like to get alerts when new pages are added please send me an e-mail to

This website is designed and maintained by Klara Palotai.
Andy Warhol's Last Love

Passers-bye in front of the storefront watching from the street the Squat Theatre play: Andy Warhol's Last Love

This site is a constantly growing internet archive committed to serve as a guide for research about Squat Theatre's history, the plays & the people, the concert program and movies and videos done by Squat Theatre, or presented in the movie house, special events as well as a bibliography of books, articles and reviews about Squat Theatre or programs they hosted. It will include a LIST OF PLAYS made in Budapest, Hungary between 1969 - 1976, with a timeline of the group's history in Hungary & Europe and in New York between 1977 and 1989, as well a detailed bibliography.

You will find rich visual documentation of the three storefront plays: Pig, Child, Fire!, Andy Warhol's Last Love and Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free, and their remake as a trilogy entitled the "Golden Age of Squat Theatre" as well as contemporary reactions to these plays in the press in New York and elsewhere like in Play & Players by David Cregan (1977) about Pig, Child, Fire before Squat Theatre left Europe for the United States.

Squat plays done after the group's break-up such as Dreamland Burns and L-Train to El Dorado and plays by Peter Halasz's Love Theatre will also be listed.

As part of the Golden Age festivities a special event series was organized: "Attractions and Choices" as we called it, with guest artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jim Jarmusch, Rammel-Zee, Shirley Clarke, Michel Auder and others. Village Voice ads, centerfold picks and various newspapers articles give a good account of Squat Theatre events and programs.

Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free

"On the Front" in Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free (Peter Halasz, Stephan Balint, Peter Berg, Sheryl Sutton)

Kassak House Studio - Squat Theatre, a photo exhibition by Endre Kovacs in Ludwig Museum Budapest

A photo exhibition of Endre Kovacs in Ludwig Museum Budapest "Kassak House Studio - Squat Theatre".W

There are rich collections of research material with original documents of Squat Theatre dispersed in public libraries, university collections, in depositories of visual resources of experimental works of the 70's and 80's, as well as in personal archives in Europe and in the US. Out of public sight and beyond reach these extraordinary documents quietly crumble away in drawers and boxes due to ordinary decay of the photographs and printed papers.

One of the missions of The Squat Theatre Archives is to digitally preserve visual and text documents of and about Squat Theatre and to make it accessible via this website. For other research materials such as articles, photos, posters, postcards, scripts and Squat related documents in collections, this site will provide an overview and a directory. If you need directions to material or have specific questions about Squat Theatre that you do not find here you can send me an e-mail to
klara AT squattheatre DOT com

concert at Squat Theatre: James Chance and the Flaming Demonics


The Squat Club opened when Janos Gat who lived in the house with his wife Sheryl Suttton asked our block neighbor Dollar Brand, in Hotel Chelsea, to give a concert in the theatre. He later invited from Chicago Big Time Sarah, Left Hand Frank, and Sunnyland Slim. We started to break even when we began booking rock concerts: Lenny Kaye, the Television, and the Heartbreakers were one of the first bands.

James Chance at Squat Theatre
James Chance
James Chance and the Flaming Demonics

Nico and Sun Ra played often, and while in New York, they all stayed at our house. The debut concert of August Darnell's Kid Creole & the Coconuts was in our club. DNA, the Lounge Lizards, James Chance played on a regular basis. Squat Theatre hosted a few plays and performances, including one of John Lurie's first solo performance in 1979 and soon after in the same year Nightshift's Men's Business by F.X. Kroetz, directed by Lindzee Smith.

The list of concerts and artists who played at Squat Theatre and a few live recordings are also listed with a separate music photo gallery for the images of musicians and concert flyers.

For the neighborhood on West 23rd street and its ongoing history you can navigate Jim Naureckas wonderful New York Songlines map that also lists Squat Theatre's building between 7th and 8th avenues.

This website archives photos, texts, catalogues, programs, playbills, postcards,invitations, correspondence, scripts, music, video and film clips, production stills relavant to Squat Theatre, including concert tickets, movie flyers, ads, and other production ephemera - including your artifacts, personal recollections and memories
about plays or concerts at Squat Theatre.

Hit the "contact us" button on any of the pages and send an e-mail to digitalarchive AT squattheatre DOT com with your comments, additions/corrections and material for the archive.

scene from King Kong in the apartment of Anna Koos and Peter HalaszK

King Kong in the apartment, Budapest
(Can Togay, Marianne Balint, Kati Örsi,
Gergely Molnar)

scenes from one of the apartment theatre plays in Budapest

Seven Clown Stories, Budapest
(Peter Breznyik/ Berg, Anna Koos)

House Play in the apartment in Budapest

Play, Budapest
(Eva Buchmuller, Stephan Balint)

You can navigate the content of the Squat Theatre Digital Archive by entering any of the main sections of the site
sitemap --collection---- timeline --- plays --- music --- movies --- images --

or you can use the sidebar on the pages as a guide if you prefer to wander around through random entry points of interest.

phSquat Theatre Digital Archive {concept/design by Klara Palotai 2003-2006}