Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Magical Tie-Dyed Tour in Review

Audiences responded well all over the country to Earthlight.. First at White Lake where the Woodstock Festival took place. "Earthlight, an avant-garde theatre, was a joyfully muddy success during the Aquarian Exposition at Bethel....THE TIMES HERALD RECORD. In Phoenix "the troupe makes it their business to spread joy,light and love in exhilerating amounts..a perfect balance of theatrical tightness and free form expression", THE PHOENIX. In Los Angeles,"nothing less than pure essential theatre...incisively and with great awareness, they glorified humanity...a reminder of what modern theatre is all about." The LA TIMES. In New York "They incorporate modern legit techniques, minus the humorlessness and self importance which often afflicts similar enterprises. They enjoy themselves on stage, and their pleasure is communicated to the audience."VARIETY"

Being involved with Woodstock was a catalyst for our later success, But more importantly, we were more than a show with hired actors. We left our homes in New York, Ohio, Cleveland and lived that 60's counter-culture life. Traveled around on a hippie bus, cooked brown rice and vegetables for one another, got into a big circle and chanted "OM", we are one, and even believed it for a time. We did what all good hippies are supposed to do, party and drug test....but always kept in mind that raising our and others consciousness was a worthy pastime and in the mean time we did "hatha yoga", Grotowski and other weird theatrical movements and exercises, and fought with each other like real families do. We tried to find love that was spiritual, sexual, orgiastic and good for the environment and not believe in war, greed, or in anyone over 30. All this time we were trying to make home made bread and tie-dye smocks and translate our lives into a valid theatrical experience. Those critics listed as well as many others thought we did just that.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mudslinging and Naked Rumors!

(Photo is of Earthlight from The Photography Exhibition at the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theatre, 1970)

I am getting a hold of more and more Earthlight Theatre people. You can see from this picture that we were a loving group. There is some discussion, that I will only mention briefly at this time that Earthlighters were always taking off their clothes. We lived in an era that taking off your clothes was normal, particularly on stage i.e. "Hair", "Oh Calcutta", and alright, one night after Woodstock. Earthlight did a naked show at the "Open Theatre" in New York City, c'mon why do you think it was called the "Open" Theatre? You can see in these pictures we mostly just looked like we were naked. When you're wearing tie-dyed loincloths, it looks like your naked with big black sores all over your body. Maybe that's where the rumor started that we threw mud at each other while we were naked.

Another rumor I read about on the Internet is that we yelled at the audience. This must have been started because of one Theatre piece that we did called "Hippie/Straight"(Straight back then meant conservative). We split the stage and/or the campground space, on one side were the straight people, one person was typing away like she was in a office, another Motherly type was ironing, and then a man shaving.. On the other side were the hippies, one doing yoga, one picking flowers, and one smoking a joint. Then they go after each other with slogans. The Straight People would yell; "America love it or leave it." Hippies would yell "Make Love Not War." Straights would yell "Get a job". Hippies would shout, "Get a Life." "Get washed" "Get real: etc., As we started moving toward each other I would come running through them, a la Ethel Merman singing "Grab your coat and get your hat,leave your worries on the door step, Life can be so sweet on the sunny side of the street", and soon from the left to the right, hippies and straights, joined in with me, we ended up in a chorus line...kicking up our feet just like the Rockettes!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blessings, Swami Satchidananda, and L.S.D.'s Cousin

A near miss was avoided for me at the beginning of the Festival itself .......maybe it was divine intervention, good karma, or.... matching robes. Earthlight Theatre is up on stage with Swami Satchidananda who is about to give the opening meditation and blessing..I'm sure you've seen the famous photo of this, we were practicing yogis.....well, we knew an asana (a yoga pose) or two. We were all wearing gold robes with matching gold tie-dye loincloths underneath. The Swami does not have the matching loincloths; just the robe. We were like his little neophytes, his followers, his groupies....his Swam-ettes.

So I'm late and I just come flying down from the back of the audience. A Security guy says "you can't go on...they're already on stage." I'm in disbelief. "What do you mean, I can't go on?, I'm with that group...can't you tell?..I have the same gold robes they have...I have the matching tie-dye loincloths underneath!" I ultimately did get a chance to be a part of this historic blessing and meditation. Some say that Swami Satchidananda "set the vibration for the festival". Earthlight remained connected to that energy through out that summer of love, our subsequent national tour, and off-Broadway run. And of all things, we were partially produced by the same folks that managed the Swami.

By the way this was our second chance at blessing the Woodstock festival. A week before the festival, in a then empty field, Earthlight rehearsed their off-beat show and blessed the space. That very space that would fill up with half a million strong. Yes, we blessed Max Yasgur's farm twice, hallowed ground for the counter culture and sixties generation. I never realized the signifance of this until many years later. Of course, at this first blessing, at the then empty Yasgur's field, we were not under the influence of the Swami this time, but a drug called STP, sounds like transmission fluid to me. It's a drug I had never heard of before or after. I was told "it's a cousin of LSD, only stranger". I personally never did that many drugs. But I always made the most of the drugs I did.