Welcome to the Woodstock - Preservation Archives
Dedicated to the Historic Preservation of the Site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival

THE WOODSTOCK SITE
Hurd & West Shore Rds.
Sullivan County
Bethel  NY

 

 

 

EARTHLIGHT THEATRE TROUPE

They were hired by Woodstock Ventures to create some performances for the Festival. and were also responsible for the appearance of Swami Satchidananda on the stage.

 


EARTHLIGHT
: A Personal History
By: Allan Mann

Co-Founder, Producer, Director, Playwright
March 1, 2013
EXCERPT:
By this time it was April and I was broke and was looking through the Village Voice for a job when I saw Elliot Tiber’s ad for a summer barn theater for free. If I was going to develop a world class theater company on the level of The Open Theater, The Living Theater and The Polish Mime Theater it certainly would be beneficial to get the performers out of the city to a place where we could work intensively together with minimum distractions and form a communal theater company that eventually would be the basis for an entire tribal arts complex.  So I called Elliot to make an appointment to go up to White Lake and got my friend Paul Johnson to drive me and Jane up there.
 
What we discovered was a large run down structure composed of a new barn built onto an old barn on the property of the El Monaco motel.  Elliot offered the space for free to anyone who would built a theater there and rent a six bedroom Victorian nearby for $800 for the season.  $200 up front.  I turned to Paul, who had a good job working at a publishing company and asked him if he would like to rent a room in the house for the entire summer for $200.  He agreed.  I gave Elliot the money and that was the beginning of Earthlight.
 
When I got back to NYC I got some of the Tree House Two group to commit to going up to White Lake to do a traditional summer stock season, while developing our own material and advance whatever money they could afford for initial expenses,  including constructing a theater.  To round out the group we did another casting call.  Eliot had given us permission to move up there immediately, which some of us did.  To select a name for the new company Jane, Robin and I threw the I Ching coins.  I don’t remember the hexagram or lines we got but it gave us the image of light coming out of the earth hence … Earthlight.

About eight of us moved to White Lake immediately to begin construction.  At first the locals were a little suspicious of us for, although we weren’t hippies, we had a little bit of that look and were actors.  However, when they saw how dedicated we were and how hard we worked they began showing up to help us build, give us tools, lumber, expertise and became our first audiences when we opened on June 13, before the tourist season had started.  The theater was extraordinary.  We had a proscenium with a balcony where the old barn was and a thrust stage into the new barn which was surrounded by padded bleachers five rows high seating about 100 people.  We did five productions in repertory of fairly well known material (in order to attract an audience) but which lent themselves to experimental performance techniques: The American Dream by Edward Albee with The Beard by Michael McClure, The Balcony by Jean Genet, Alice Tripping in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll as adapted by me, Camino Real by Tennessee Williams and an original production at the end of the season with a variety of short stylized pieces written by me and created in collaboration with the ensemble which we arbitrarily called S.E.X.  since it was the end of the season and we needed to build up as much capital as we could in order to continue.

EARTHLIGHT
ARRIVES IN BETHEL AT THE EL MONACO HOTEL
   Photo Courtesy: Roy Arenella


In mid July I read that the Woodstock Festival had lost their space in Walkil and needed somewhere to go … quickly.  I approached Elliot Tiber and asked him if he knew the city council well enough to get an okay to do the festival in White Lake.  He said he did and got back to me the next day, saying he had spoke to some people and it was okay.  I then called a friend of mine, Stan Goldstein, who was working with the Festival, gave him the information and turned him over to Elliot and the rest is history.  Not only was the presence of the Woodstock people at the El Monaco good for our business but since they were impressed by the quality and originality of our work they hired us to create some performances for the Festival.  Jane and I were also able to convince them to bring Satchidananda up to do the benediction at the start of the festival.  Being a performer and director I knew how important it was to be able to sense the vibes of an audience and be able to direct it this way and that.  The only one I knew who could possibly do that with 50,000 (which became 500,00) people was Satchidananda. His appearance with us on the stage was the reason Woodstock became such a mellow, communal, peaceful experience.

 

Allan Mann's  EARTHLIGHT: A Personal History (Complete)

 

 

 

Sri Swami Satchidananda opened the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival  in Bethel, New York  on August 15, addressing a crowd of approximately 500,000

 

 

 

 


Photo Courtesy: Roy Arenella
Allan Mann at Woodstock (left)

                                                                                                                                               Click to Enlarge 

 

 

"To my knowledge you were never thanked for nor were you ever acknowledged for having been responsible for Swami Satchidananda's appearance and participation in the festival, though you and some other Earthlight members were and are seen as his attandants in the Warner's film." -
Stan Goldstein, Dec.12, 2012 (.pdf format) Used with permission

 

 

 

 

 

EARTHLIGHT - 1969 SUMMER SCHEDULE AND PROGRAM BOOKLET

Courtesy: Allan Mann

 

Click to Enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

 

 

I Performed at Woodstock With the Critically Acclaimed Earthlight Theater Troupe

By: S. Rachel Lovey

 

 

 

 Allan is currently working on an Earthlight revival, documentary & book. 
 Anyone with film, photos, video, reviews, articles, memories, etc., regarding Earthlight, that they would like to share,
please contact Allan Mann

 

 

 

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