Saturday, August 22, 2009

THE ORIGINAL EARTHLIGHT CAME TOGETHER IN A MAFIA STOREFRONT AND IT WAS CALLED TREEHOUSE II.



S.RACHEL LOVEY originally known as SHEILA COHEN.

The year before this Earthlight business began was the luckiest year of my life. I had been teaching and directing an afternoon theatre arts program in New Haven, Connecticut. Considered so politically correct(a word not yet invented in 69) that the avant-garde of the Yale Drama School invited me in to their inner circle and I started doing plays with them and taking classes with Joseph Papp. I ultimately moved to NYC and walked past 8Th ave and 23rd streets to catch the subway and a man stopped me and said "I can't let you just walk out of my life" and we were together for a while, I had a tiny part in an off-Broadway show with the fabulous character actor Elsa Raven. A snooty, self-absorbed, actress played the lead and had a starring role on Broadway as well. She had a nervous breakdown and I became the leading lady. My ex-roommate in New Haven, who had stolen a few of my boyfriends as I remember it, was recovering from her own nervous breakdown and told me about a friend of hers who was starting a Theatre in Little Italy on Mulberry Street and that I should look her up.


ALLAN MANN

Allan Mann, the originator of Earthlight, became the director and had a profound influence on the writing and spiritual basis of the group. He was into "new age" and "new thinking" before they even coined the phrases. Later on as the theatre company became somewhat of a commune as well as a theatre, there would be some conflicts as to who was in charge...Allan's original idea came from an inspiration from Robert Heinlein, science fiction writer "Stranger in a Strange Land," who believed theatre could raise the planet's consciousness, also the Living Theatre, who created a communal universe through sound and movement, and The Committee, who performed funny and finely crafted improv and scripted bits. Allen had been living in Los Angeles the year before Earthlight (Treehouse II is what it was called originally) working with The Committee and Motown. He had graduated from Columbia University with a masters at Sarah Lawrence. His book "A New View, A Modern Mystical Vision" will soon be published.


JANE RICHARDSON MACK.

Jane Richardson (Mack), Allan's partner and girlfriend at the time had been an actress at the New School with Joseph Chaiken of the Open Theatre. Her artistry and spirituality had a huge impact on the style, movement and design of our eventual show. She had a profound influence on me as a woman, she could add style to making a pot of lentil for a group of 20 or putting a ribbon around a bed sheet and making it look sexy. For some reason, I remembered to this day, that her father was a sea captain. She and Allan met at the Living Theater and decided to form a Theatre. She currently is a singer and interior designer living in the Bay Area, and is also an artist working in Verree Eglomise, mirror embedded design.

ROY ARENELLA

Roy Arenella, an internationally know photographer-artist, who's taken many of the pictures that you see here on this Blog, had a brother who had roomed with Allan Mann in college.(I have not totally verified this next section but don't forget, I remembered Jane's father was a sea captain and this is the way I've always told the story so I must be right)Roy and some other Italian friends of his, one of which had been a friend of my roommates in New Haven, grew up on Long Island. Their parents had done well and adopted an appropriate middle class life style, Roy and his cronies were annoyed somewhat and they move to a few apartments in Little Italy in Mulberry Street to find a more authentic Italian lifestyle and one that would be less plastic and retain more of the old Italian culture. On the other hand, they were interested in bringing more contemporary art and even a theatre to the neighborhood.


This was the Little Italy of the late 60's.....like in the Godfather. No sweet cafes, no trendy theatre, no boutiques;just mothers yelling out the windows for their kids, an occasional St. Genaro's festival, but mostly mafia storefronts. Mafia storefronts, sometimes set up to look like legit businesses and sometimes not. It was amongst these mafia storefronts that we opened up our theatre, which would eventually be called Earthlight, originally we called it "Tree House II". And if you must tie it into Woodstock imagery, Treehouse II was our version of Jonie Mitchell's "trying to get back to the garden" only we were not going all the way back to the garden....just to the treehouse".


EARTHLIGHT ARRIVES IN BETHEL AT THE NOW INFAMOUS EL MONACO MOTEL. S. RACHEL LOVEY ON THE RIGHT SITTING NEXT TO THE POST AND THE SHIRTLESS EARTHLIGHTER!

45 comments:

  1. I just posted on another part of this blog related to the Earth Light Theater -- I was trying to validate my memories as I lived in what I believe was the same place that the theater group did but about 3 years later when it was occupied by a rock group from NYC --the picture on this blog (which I didn't see at first) of the group sitting on the porch looks like the house next to the theater (barn/garage) as I remember it. I'm curious as to how much of the history in the "Taking Woodstock" movie is accurate. I sometimes think that my VW breaking down at that location and spending my own Woodstock summer was some mystical act of fate to connect me to the Woodstock experience which I could not attend. Vietnam and the draft necessitated my attending summer school in summer of 69 at the college I was to attend in the fall. Acceptance full time to that college was contingent on successful completion of the summer school class. With a low number in the draft lottery it was college or Vietnam (you can see my priorities). The class had a 0 cut policy and Woodstock was right in the middle of the class session-- so I missed out on the festival. Interestingly because I wound up living there later I have the perspective and the story few know and few experienced, the aftermath of Woodstock in the Bethel community. Anyway my VW mico bus engine failure at that location makes me wonder if life is just a random lot of events or if certain things happen for reasons??? I had heard of the Earth Light Theater and read a very brief account of their existence several years back. I've wondered about the billboard in front of the house/barn/theater and what it meant. I'm happy to see and read this blog as it fills in some of the wonderment/history I've been curious about since I lived there. Greg Utter - gutter@twcny.rr.com

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  2. Your story is very interesting. The Earthlight Theater Group was very much a part of Woodstock history and, unless you have any objections, I'd like to share it with others. I have linked this page to the Woodstock - Preservation Archives website and it can be found in our Gallery (http://www.woodstockpreservation.org/PastPresent/pastpresent.html) Thank you ☮+♥ Joanne Hague

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  3. 當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。............................................................

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  4. 一個人的際遇在第一次總是最深刻的,有時候甚至會讓人的心變成永遠的絕緣。............................................................

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  5. 老天爺賦予了強者的能力,就是要他比弱者多擔待..................................................

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  6. 唯有用熱情、用智慧去觀察事物,這事物才會把他的秘密,洩漏給我們......................................................................

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  7. Not at Woodstock, but OMG, Rachel (Sheila), the memories of Earthlight, the big blue bus. Leaving out some details, I'll never forget us on the roof of the bus in the "playpen" outside San Bernardino, headed east (and into space) when the bus broke down and... Some people today are blaming that period for changing the world. I call it something other than blame. We were magic.

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