Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

Talking about Taking Woodstock

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

Those who have seen Taking Woodstock, the entertaining movie about the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. know that as entertaining as it is, accuracy isn’t always at the fore.

Was there an Elliot Tiber? Yes. Did his parents run the El Monaco? Yes. Was an old barn on that property that Allan Mann’s Earthlight Theater renovated into a theater? Yes.  Did Tiber write the book by the same name explaining his role in the famed festival? Yes

From there,  Ang Lee, Taking Woodstock‘s director, and  writer James Schamus, as any director and writer do, told a story “based on a true story,” but made fanciful and entertaining more than valid.

Lee prominently featured the Earthlight Theater in Taking Woodstock. Nudity and eccentricity are common parts of a movies and cinema often sees their combination as even more attractive.

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

Allan Mann/California

According to Allan Mann,  he had started The Realization Theater in Los Angeles which led to he being hired as Artistic Director of the Century City Play-house by David Sheehan. Mann also performed with a comedy group called The Committee and taken a film course at UCLA during the summer of 1968.

His film won first prize and he was offered a scholarship to attend UCLA Film School. He thus faced a career decision: whether to start training for a career in film or go back to New York to pursue a career in theater

In the fall of 1968 he returned to New York.

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

Allan Mann/New York

There he saw performances of Hair, Paradise Now by The Living Theater, The Serpent by The Open Theater and various short pieces by The Polish Mime Theater.

He studied dance with Anna Sokolow and fell in love with Jane Richardson–today, Jane Richardson-Mack).  They went to hear Sri Swami Satchidananda–a name founded in Sanskrit: sat [existence],  chid [knowledge], and ananda [bliss]–speak at the Universalist church. He approached Satchidananda and spoke to him afterward.

Both he and Jane and I became students of his

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

Earthlight Theater

Mann wanted to form a theater company that had the same energy as he’d experienced with Hair, Paradise Now, and The Serpent.

He and graduated Columbia University and friends there let him use a storefront social club they called Tree House Two.  He and  Richardson auditioned actors and began workshops and rehearsals.

The original members included Sheila Cohen (later Rachel Lovey), Robin Mide, Wendy Blakely, Jean Morris, Dale Picciano, Darlene DiDomenico, Carlos Corujon and his monkey Celeste (the baby in our production of Alice Tripping in Wonder­land), Paul Gloss, Tylar Gustavson, Miriam Iron, Gil Martinez, Steven Smith, Peter George, Sally LoGalbo, and David Starr Klein

Though artistically satisfying, the venture made little money. In April 1969 he saw an ad in the Village Voice. Elliot Tiber was offering summer barn for free if someone turned it into a theater.  The idea of giving the Earthlight troupe a communal experience in the country appealed to Mann.

Paul Johnson, a friend of Mann, drove him to meet Tiber in Bethel, NJ. Tiber’s offer was: build the theater and pay $800 season rent for a nearby six bedroom Victorian .  $200 up front. Mann offered Johnson a house for the summer for $200. Johnson paid.

To select a name for the new company Jane, Robin Mide and Mann threw the I Ch’ing.  It gave them the image of light coming out of the earth: Earthlight.

Earthlight moved to Bethel at the same time that Woodstock Ventures was jumping through legal hurdles in Wallkill, NY in its attempt to put on a rock festival.

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

Earthlight Performances

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

The theater opened on June 13. It had five better-known productions to attract audiences, but also drew upon experimental performance techniques: The American Dream by Edward Albee, The Beard by Michael McClureThe Balcony by Jean GenetAlice Tripping in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll as adapted by Mann,  Camino Real by Tennessee Williams and an original production at the end of the season called S.E.X.

It comprised  a variety of short stylized pieces written by Mann and created in collaboration with the ensemble. The idea was that since it was the end of the season the troupe needed to build up as much capital as possible in order to continue. Thus S.E.X.

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

Woodstock Haze

Some say there were 500,000 attendees at Woodstock. Some say that there was a million surrounding those 500,000 who never got to the festival. Richie Havens said he played on Friday for two and a half hours. Many believe that everyone was high, skinny dipping, sliding around in mud, and that there was one continuous orgy occurring. Others say if you can remember Woodstock, you weren’t there.

Elliot Tiber said he was responsible for bringing Woodstock to Bethel after Wallkill kicked out the venture. Michael Lang disagrees. Artie Kornfeld disagrees with both.

Allan Mann said he spoke to Tiber about getting permission and then contacted Woodstock Ventures to come to Bethel.

Wherever the truth lies, it is true that the Woodstock Music and Art Fair did come to Bethel, did find Max Yasgur, and did have its its still famous festival on August 15, 16, 17, and 18, 1969.

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

Sri Swami Satchidananda

Woodstock Ventures hired the Earthlight Theater to perform locally before the festival as well as around the festival itself.

Mann says he was instrumental in having Woodstock Ventures invite Sri Swami Satchidananda to open the festival. Artist Peter Max says it was he.

In any case, the opening honors actually went to Richie Havens who played approximately 45 minutes and left the stage to boisterous applause to his improvised Freedom.

Following Havens, Satchidananda spoke with the Earthlight troupe next to him on stage.

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

Back to California

Earthlight Theatre troupe

Hoping to find a financial backer, the troupe performed their play S.E.X. at the Open Theater in NYC.  That didn’t succeed, so Mann and most of the troupe decided to move to California.

There they received positive reviews after performances of The Kindred. 

As in Bethel, a friend offered them a space in Venice if they’d convert it into a performance venue. Some of the troupe left at that point, others joined. They did the conversion and all continued to go well.

Sarah Lukeman, their booking agent, got them a gig at Northwestern University in January 1970. Chicago. In January!

They went and Larry Kagan of The Daily Northwestern wrote: ““Nearly 1,000 people were baptized Sunday night at Cahn Auditorium, and the medium was neither fire nor water.  It was Earthlight … the best parts of the Second City, The Committee, Hair and the Living Theater are embodied in this young, fluid, and really together company.”

Back to LA for more successes as well as other college gigs. Then cross-country tours.

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

Live Music

Mann realized that for the troupe and their performance to evolve, he needed to continue to renovate. He decided to invite the band Pure Love & Pleasure to join both as a part of the troupe as well as performing separately.

Earthlight’s success continued.  Sellout performances ensued.

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

Back to NY

They performed for two weeks at the Gracie Square Theater, on New York’s upper east side.

The New York Times’s Mel Gussow wrote in the November 4, 1970 edition:

The touch of the “Earth light Theater” is gentle…. The audience at the Gracie Square Theater sits in bleachers and on pillows piled on the floor. The actors shake hands with their guests, cozily share pillows, then flow towards a bandstand where a group called Pure Love and Pleasure is pounding high‐decibel rock. The cast is vigorous and attractive, heavy with hair, and wearing jump suits. One warms to these young people and the atmosphere of innocence, and goodwill.

Then Earthlight opened off-B’way at the Garrick Theater on January 20, 1971, received other rave reviews and ran through April, but by this point only four of the original Bethel troupe were still with the company.

Managerial disagreements let to the troupe’s demise. In the end, the only originals were Mann and Jane.

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

And Back Again

Back to California. With Pure Love & Pleasure also having left the group, Mann teamed up with composer David Cohen. The partnership succeeded until Cohen and Jane fell in love and left Earthlight.

After a reluctant spring tour, Earthlight ended

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

PS. Taking Woodstock–not!

Mann was not a fan of the movie. He wrote: on the evening of August 28, 2009 I sat in a movie theater and watched my magnificent  Earthlight creation trashed before my eyes and millions of others on the big screen in Ang Lee and James Schamus’ movie Taking Woodstock.  They represented Earthlight in a totally fictitious and ridiculous manner.  I’m not a good enough writer to express what I felt watching that shock-ing insult to myself and all the other Earthlighters who brought the world not only the Woodstock Festival, with Swami Satchidananda, but also some of the most extraordinary theatrical experiences  audiences have ever had anywhere at any time.

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann


And as has occasionally happened with this little Woodstock site, I received this comment on a post in 2020 from Allan Mann:

 We’re planning an Earthlight Revival for animation (from old B&W tapes), stage, book, documentary, Quick Bits for the internet, video recording, song recordings & possible feature.

Earthlight Theater Allan Mann

June 2020 COVID 19

June 2020 COVID 19

374,327 COVID Deaths Worldwide

June 1: 6,287,857 cases; 374,327 deaths worldwide

106,198 COVID Deaths USA

June 1: 1,837,578 cases; 106,198 deaths in the United States

June 2020 COVID 19

June 3: the NY Times reported that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine did not prevent Covid-19 in a rigorous study of 821 people who had been exposed to patients infected with the virus, researchers from the University of Minnesota and Canada are reported.

The study was the first large controlled clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that President Trump had repeatedly promoted and recently taken himself. Conducted in the United States and Canada, this trial was also the first to test whether the drug could prevent illness in people who have been exposed to the coronavirus.

This type of study, in which patients are picked at random to receive either an experimental treatment or a placebo, is considered the most reliable way to measure the safety and effectiveness of a drug. The participants were health care workers and people who had been exposed at home to ill spouses, partners or parents.

“The take-home message for the general public is that if you’re exposed to someone with Covid-19, hydroxychloroquine is not an effective post-exposure preventive therapy,” the lead author of the study, Dr. David R. Boulware, from the University of Minnesota, said in an interview.

June 2020 COVID 19

388,441 COVID Deaths Worldwide

June 4: cases, 6,597,734; 388,441 deaths worldwide

109,159 COVID Deaths USA

June 4: 1,902,768 cases; 109,159 deaths in the USA

June 4: the NY Times reported that the pandemic was ebbing in some of the countries that were hit hard early on, but the number of new cases was growing faster than ever worldwide, with more than 100,000 reported each day.

Twice as many countries had reported a rise in new cases over the past two weeks as have reported declines, according to a New York Times database. On May 30, more new cases were reported in a single day worldwide than ever before: 134,064. The increase had been driven by emerging hot spots in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Over all, there have been more than 6.3 million reported cases worldwide and more than 380,000 known deaths. More than a quarter of all known deaths have been in the United States. But the geography of the pandemic is changing quickly.

June 2020 COVID 19

402,686 COVID Deaths Worldwide

June 7: 7,008,556 cases; 402,686 deaths worldwide

112,101 COVID Deaths USA

June 7: 1,988,700 cases; 112,101 deaths in the USA

June 2020 COVID 19

June 11: the NY Times reported that though they were still struggling with rising coronavirus cases, India, Mexico, Russia, Iran and Pakistan had decided they must end lockdowns and restart their economies.

402,686 COVID Deaths Worldwide

June 11: 7,482,740 cases, 419,494 deaths worldwide

115,140 COVID Deaths USA

June 11: 2,066,611 cases; 115,140 deaths in the USA

June 2020 COVID 19

June 14: the NY Times reported that epidemiologists, small-town mayors and county health officials had warned for  weeks:  Once states begin to reopen, a surge in coronavirus cases will follow.

That scenario was now playing out in states across the country, particularly in the Sun Belt and the West, as thousands of Americans had been sickened by the virus in new and alarming outbreaks.

Hospitals in Arizona had been urged to activate emergency plans to cope with a flood of coronavirus patients. On Sune 13, Florida saw its largest single-day count of cases since the pandemic began. Oregon had failed to contain the spread of the virus in many places, leading the governor on June 11 to pause what had been a gradual reopening.

And in Texas, cases were rising swiftly around the largest cities, including Houston, San Antonio and Dallas.

432,901 COVID Deaths Worldwide

June 14: 7,897,652 cases;  432,901 deaths worldwide

117,533 COVID Deaths USA

June 14: 2,142,515 cases; 117,533 deaths in the USA

June 2020 COVID 19

F.D.A. withdrew emergency approval for malaria drugs

June 15: the NY Times reported that the Food and Drug Administration said that it was revoking emergency authorization of two malaria drugs to treat Covid-19, saying that they are “unlikely to be effective.”

The drugs, hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, were heavily promoted by President Trump after a handful of small, poorly controlled studies showed that they could work in treating the disease.

June 2020 COVID 19

Inexpensive drug reduces virus deaths

June 16: the NY Times reported that scientists at the University of Oxford said  that they had identified what they called the first drug proven to reduce coronavirus-related deaths, after a 6,000-patient trial of the drug in Britain showed that a low-cost steroid could reduce deaths significantly for hospitalized patients.

The steroid, dexamethasone, reduced deaths by a third in patients receiving ventilation, and by a fifth in patients receiving only oxygen treatment, the scientists said. They found no benefit from the drug in patients who did not need respiratory support.

June 2020 COVID 19

440,390 COVID Deaths Worldwide

June 16: 8,160,996 cases worldwide;  440,390 deaths worldwide

118,452 COVID Deaths USA

June 16: 2,187,671 cases; 118,452 deaths in the USA

June 2020 COVID 19

June 18: the NY Times reported that the federal government’s leadership in the coronavirus crisis had so faded that state and local health officials have been left to figure out on their own how to handle rising infections and to navigate conflicting signals from the White House.

About 800 Americans a day were still dying of Covid-19, a pace that, if sustained over the next few months, would yield more than 200,000 dead by the end of September. Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Oregon and Texas all reported their largest one-day increases in new cases on June 16

On June 17, Oklahoma had recorded 259 new cases, a single-day record for the second day in a row, and just three days before President Trump was scheduled to hold an indoor campaign rally in Tulsa in defiance of his own administration’s guidelines for “phased reopening.”

Yet despite Mr. Trump’s assurances during a Sean Hannity interview on June 17 that the virus was “fading away,” the Trump campaign is requiring rally-goers to sign a statement waiving their right to sue the campaign if they get sick.

June 2020 COVID 19
July aftermath

‘A new and dangerous phase’

June 19: the NY Times reported that the World Health Organization issued a dire warning that the coronavirus pandemic was accelerating, and noted that June 18 was a record for new daily cases — more than 150,000 globally.

“The world is in a new and dangerous phase,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the W.H.O. “Many people are understandably fed up with being at home. Countries are understandably eager to open up their societies and their economies. But the virus is still spreading fast. It is still deadly and most people are still susceptible.”

If the outbreak was defined early on by a series of shifting epicenters — including Wuhan, China; Iran; northern Italy; Spain; and New York — it was now defined by its wide and expanding scope. According to a New York Times database, 81 nations had seen a growth in new cases over the past two weeks, while only 36 had seen declines.

Masks optional/Masks required

June 19: after the chief executive of AMC Entertainment Holdings, Adam Aron, had said on June 18 that moviegoers would not be required to wear masks at the company’s theaters when they reopen next month, AMC reversed its policy and said it will require moviegoers to wear masks at its theaters across the country, starting July 15. [Hollywood Reporter article]

June 2020 COVID 19

440,390 COVID Deaths Worldwide

June 19: 8,680,028 cases worldwide; 458,852 deaths worldwide:

118,452 COVID Deaths USA

June 19: 2,278,872 cases; 121,023 deaths in the USA.

June 2020 COVID 19

June 24: the NY Times reported that as the coronavirus pandemic hit more impoverished countries with fragile health care systems, global health authorities  scrambled for supplies of a simple treatment that saves lives: oxygen.

Many patients severely ill with Covid-19 require help with breathing at some point. But the epidemic was spreading rapidly in South Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa, regions of the world where many hospitals were poorly equipped and lacked the ventilators, tanks and other equipment necessary to save patients whose lungs were failing.

480,406 COVID Deaths Worldwide

June  24:9,382,647 cases worldwide; 480,406 deaths worldwide

123,476 COVID Deaths USA

June 24: 2,424,493 cases; 123,476 deaths in the USA.

June 24: the NY Times reported that more than two months after the United States recorded its worst day of new infections since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the nation reached another grim milestone as it reported 36,880 new cases.

The number of infections indicated that the country was not only failing to contain the coronavirus, but also that the caseload was worsening — a path at odds with many other nations that have seen steady declines after an earlier peak. Cases in the United States had been on a downward trajectory after the previous high of 36,739 cases on April 24, but they had roared back in recent weeks.

June 2020 COVID 19

June 25: the NY Times reported that younger people were making up a growing percentage of new coronavirus cases in cities and states where the virus was surging.

In Arizona, where drive-up sites were overwhelmed by people seeking coronavirus tests, people ages 20 to 44 accounted for nearly half of all cases. In Florida, which was breaking records for new cases nearly every day, the median age of residents testing positive for the virus dropped to 35, down from 65 in March.

In Texas, where the governor paused the reopening process as hospitals grow increasingly crowded, young people now account for the majority of new cases in several urban centers. In Cameron County, which includes Brownsville and the tourist town of South Padre Island, people under 40 made up more than half of newly reported cases.

“What is clear is that the proportion of people who are younger appears to have dramatically changed,” said Joseph McCormick, a professor of epidemiology at UTHealth School of Public Health in Brownsville. “It’s really quite disturbing.”

June 2020 COVID 19

The Month Ends on a Low Note

June 29: according to data released on Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of coronavirus infections in many parts of the United States was more than 10 times higher than the reported rate,

The analysis was part of a wide-ranging set of surveys started by the C.D.C. to estimate how widely the virus had spread. Similar studies, sponsored by universities, national governments and the World Health Organization, were continuing all over the world.

The C.D.C. study found, for instance, that in South Florida, just under 2 percent of the population had been exposed to the virus as of April 10, but the proportion was likely to be higher now given the surge of infections in the state. The prevalence was highest in New York City at nearly 7 percent as of April 1.

This study underscores that there are probably a lot of people infected without knowing it, likely because they have mild or asymptomatic infection,” said Dr. Fiona Havers, who led the C.D.C. study. “But those people could still spread it to others.”

480,406 COVID Deaths Worldwide

June  30: 10,439,188 cases worldwide; 508,983 deaths worldwide

128,819 COVID Deaths USA

June 30: 2,683,301 cases; 128,819 deaths in the USA.

June 2020 COVID 19

Previous and subsequent COVID-19 posts: