Hanon Reznikov (Howard Reznick)

On May 5, 2008 I went to the funeral of Hanon Reznikov (in college he was Howard Reznick; when he joined The Living Theatre, he used his Hebrew given name and his untruncated original family name); he died on May 2 of complications from a stroke he had suffered three weeks earlier. Hanon was an actor, playwright, director, and producer.  He joined The Living Theatre, which was founded over five decades ago by Julian Beck and Judith Malina, shortly after he graduated, and he was the chief engine in keeping it working and touring after Julian’s death in 1985.  Hanon and Judith, whom he married in 1988, were together as a couple for almost thirty-five years.  At the graveside service, which was movingly led by Jim Ponet, the Yale Hillel rabbi, words were spoken of Hanon’s artistic and social vision, his inspiration, kindness, and charm.  But my strongest feeling has been how much I will miss his antic merriment. 

In my senior year, I shared a house on the beach in Woodmont (just outside of New Haven) with Hanon (originally ’72, although he graduated in ’73), David Parrella, Jan Roth, Helen Kivnick (all of us ’72), Jay Warren (originally ’71, graduated in ‘72), Jane Sachs (’73), and Henry Abramovitch (’71, by then in the graduate school studying psychology).  We thought of ourselves as a commune, although we did not have an overarching philosophical or political credo which usually transforms a bunch of housemates into a commune, unless it was a belief in keeping our minds engaged and entertained and our company amusing all the time.  We did share meals and chores communally; we had a weekly meeting to discuss household issues; and every night worked out the logistics of getting all of us into and out of New Haven the next day. Hanon, especially, was constantly devising diversions to keep those quotidian tasks from overtaking our spirits.  

Even before we all lived in that house, a friend might return to her darkened dorm room to find Hanon in the closet, furiously chewing gum along with its metallic paper, curious to see if he could make sparks, accompanied by his unstifle-able giggle.  But given the possibilities of a whole house, he had even more scope for his playful creativity.  One night, he and I stayed awake after everyone else had gone to bed and injected blue food coloring in several eggs and vodka in a grapefruit.  We also tinted orange juice to match perfectly its green plastic pitcher, and made cottage cheese an alarming pink.  Then we made sure to get up early, casually hanging around in the kitchen to observe everyone’s reaction when a fried egg looked like the sun in a blue sky next to a glass of grass-colored juice.  Hanon and I once made a lengthy treasure hunt for the others, writing elaborate clues, using our wonderful many-roomed house as a stage-set for audience-participation.  I can’t remember anymore what the treasure was.  Perhaps it was he.

Leah Greenwald


I worked with Hanon for over 35 years in The Living Theatre.  He excelled in the company as actor, director, producer and playwright.  He wrote 12 plays, often employing street theater and audience participation.  He performed in many of the plays, giving countless performances before thousands of people.  I once remember him holding in the palm of his hand an audience of a few hundred highschoolers on a morning in Cagliari, Sardinia.  But he was equally at home on the stages of the capitols of Europe and in New York.  He amazingly kept the Living Theatre going for 22 years after the death of Julian Beck.  And he became a life companion to Judith Malina, whom he married in 1988.  Interestingly enough, he will live on through the texts, diaries, and photo/audio/video records in The Living Theatre Archive, recently acquired by the Beinecke Rare Book Library.  His last project was to start a new space for the company on Clinton St. in New York’s Lower East Side, now presenting his last work, “Eureka”.  

Tom Walker ’70

Share your Comments

You must be logged in to post a comment.