Lucidity 2019: What a Little Moonlight Can Do

By Steven Libowitz   |   April 11, 2019
The Lucidity Festival offers workshops and classes, in addition to three days of music and fun

To the uninitiated, the Lucidity Festival, which offers its eighth iteration this weekend, might still come off as a haven for hardcore drug users, a three-day escape for spaced-out revelers intent on leaving reality behind.

But maybe that mistaken notion will finally be put to rest, as Lucidity was recognized as the world’s best family-friendly festival at the 2018 FestX Awards last December, reflecting Lucidity’s family-centric ethos that exists amid the nearly nonstop live and electronic music, workshops, experiential art, theatrical presentations, ceremonies, parades, and much more amid the tree-lined byways and open spaces at Live Oak Camp.

“The award was validating for all the hard work we’ve been doing around creating safe space for children and families,” said Lucidity co-founder Jonah Haas, noting that each year the percentage of children in attendance has grown. The festival this year has also increased its services for people with special needs, becoming more “accessible and inclusive for everyone,” via the new Camp Cozy. “A safe container allows everyone to open up and explore their own imaginations in a community setting,” Haas said.

Moon’s Eye View, the theme for Lucidity 2019, also provides a more holistic approach for such explorations in the second festival following the original six-year cycle that organizers later proclaimed as an exploration of the dream state. The new cycle is about awakening and experiencing the world as it is.

“In the new story we’ve transitioned away from archetypal villages to elemental realms,” Haas explained. “And while last year’s element was fire, this year is about water. It’s the perspective of the moon – looking at the Earth from a witness position. The moon also governs the tide and the waters in our own bodies, so the theme is also about confronting fear of the unknown and our other emotions. Seeing them as a witness, allowing them to be what they are, is part of the exploration.”

More so than in previous years, those themes will be seen in the workshop content, and the festival’s aesthetic, and the narrative and conversation, Haas said. “There’s more cohesion in the curating.”

Indeed, a glance at the schedule (( indicates a reorganization around the elements that finds each area more focused in the programming, with meditation in the Spirit realm, sexuality featured in Fire, and yoga and dance in the Movement Lab (which will encompass four official DJs from Santa Barbara Dance Tribe’s ecstatic dance community this year).

The subtle shifts are also showing up in the music lineup, where the two main headliners, Emancipator and OPIUO, are big names within the festival circuit who have never before played at Lucidity. But the loud music will end a little earlier and the drum-and-bass quotient has been cut back, meaning far fewer thumping beats intruding on sound baths and other quieter pursuits. “We’re looking at the soundscape from a more holistic perspective, and integrating the feedback from last year,” Haas explained. “So this year the main stage will have both electronic and live music alternating, and all of it is curated to be uplifting and melodic and easier on the ears.” (That would include Montecito’s own Glen Phillips, the singer-songwriter turned community songleader who is also making his Lucidity debut.)

To be sure, there are still some areas of expansion, including Plant Medicine Way, which will host cacao ceremonies and presentations as well as lots of programming and vendors surrounding essential oils, elixirs, and hemp products. There are new acts, new art installations, new vendors, and new workshops every year. At the same time, the Santa Barbara community remains deeply involved, with Fishbon, for example, returning with its popular Pyrobar fire-spitting/tune spinning vehicle, audience-powered cable show-spoofing Steve TV and Fishbon Theatre, which adds the new So You Think You Can Shaman game show to the 4th Annual Lucid-Olympic Games, its other big mass-participation event.

And, as always, Lucidity is a more than a bit amorphous, the festival adapting and flowing to meet the dreams and desires of the participants in the moment – perhaps even more flowingly than usual as the moon waxes through its half-moon phase mid-weekend. 

(Lucidity Moon’s Eye View takes place April 12-14 at Live Oak Camp, 4600 Hwy. 154 about halfway up the San Marcos Pass. Call (805) 686-5097 or visit for details on two or three day passes or daily admissions, plus camping rules, and info on every act, artist and workshop presenter at the festival. Also see my Spirituality Matters column on page 22 for a few of the soul-stretching seminars on site.)

ETC’s Everything is Illuminated Sheds Laughter and Light

Part road movie-style buddy comedy and part dramatic exploration of family and national history, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated has found audiences as a novel and 2005 movie that represented Liev Schreiber’s writing and directing debut. Now Ensemble Theater is presenting the Southern California premiere of the theatrical adaptation of the story of a young Jewish-American writer – also named Jonathan Safran Foer – who, spurred by an old photograph, travels to the Ukraine to seek out the woman who may have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. What makes it an absurdist comedy is that he hires Alex, a young Ukrainian tour guide whose family business (with his own grandfather) is as tour guide, to help him find the village. As might be expected, the histories become entwined, leading to some dramatic reveals.

“It’s a tricky thing,” explained ETC’s Jonathan Fox, who is directing what is only the fourth production of the theatrical work. “It’s a story where comedy and darkness go side by side, moving from a funny road trip with three weird characters in a car to taking a darker turn as they witness the ghosts from their histories.”

The quirky title itself has many meanings, including one that might have had Alex uttering the phrase instead of “Everything became clear” because he learned English from a thesaurus, Fox said. “But [the title] resonates differently throughout the story, not just in the word ‘illuminated’ but also ‘everything,’ which pops up a lot and means many things. It’s a journey of discovery for both characters – things get illuminated.” 

But one of those things might not be the objective truth that the Jonathan character seeks, Fox said. “One of the themes is whether there is such a thing as historical truth or accuracy. It shifts a few times, with questions of who is telling the truth. What are the facts? In both the novel and the adaptation, there is an attempt to be ambiguous, because history itself is open to interpretation.”

That’s among the reasons why what would seem to be a very personal story becomes one with universal implications. “We’re always dealing with scapegoating and xenophobic attitudes, when really, as Jonathan says in the play, we’re all the same species,” Fox said. “It’s a very touching story at heart that speaks about our culture throughout history.”

Jeremy Kahn makes his ETC debut with Everything is Illuminated, reprising the role of Jonathan that he played in last year’s production at Aurora Theatre Company in Berkeley, while company comic veteran Matt Wolpe (The School for Lies, The Liar) portrays Alex, cast, Fox said, because of his “expert comic timing that is crucial to the role.” Everything is Illuminated runs April 13-24 at The New Vic.

SBCC Students in Search of an ‘SO’

Three years after Ensemble produced Joshua Harmon’s 2012 laughter Bad Jews, SBCC is taking on the critically acclaimed playwright’s 2015 work Significant Other, which is about a single gay man who discovers that finding Mr. Right is much easier said than done and winds up having even more difficulty supporting his close group of female friends as each lands a mate. The New York Times called the piece “A tenderly unromantic romantic comedy, as richly funny as it is ultimately heart-stirring.” Katie Laris directs the April 10-27 run at the Jurkowitz Theatre on the SBCC campus.

Fun Home Sob Story 

Fun Home, the coming-of-age musical based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, won five Tony Awards five years ago, including best musical, so I expected good things in its Santa Barbara debut from Out of the Box Theater Company. But no amount of advance preparation could have prepared me for the avalanche of emotions I experienced as the story of Bechdel’s childhood and adolescent relationship with her closeted gay funeral home-owning father unfolded at Center Stage on opening night last weekend. After holding back tears during the first act, I excused myself to a quiet spot in the parking lot and just bawled my eyes out during the intermission, sobbing almost uncontrollably ‘til it was time to return.

I can’t quite explain why, other than perhaps note that the scenes when all three Alisons – the child at play, the adolescent experiencing freedom, and the adult Bechdel observing and narrating, often in song – appeared simultaneously acted as a catalyst. Something about the acceptance and integration of the parts from the past delivered via easily accessible music unleashed the floodgates within.

But of course that was just my access point to the piece that has many avenues of entry for the audience. Whatever the byway, Fun Home is not only perfectly cast but tautly directed (by OOB founder Samantha Eve), and features one of the most organically embodied performances I have ever witnessed in Paige Mobley, who plays the adolescent Alison. Fun Home is funny, dramatic and endlessly emotional, at least for this viewer, who remains grateful for opportunity to access some of his own darker corners with compassion through the experience. The musical closes with three final performances this Friday-Sunday, April 12-14. 

‘Fracture,’ Fiesta and Other Dance Dimensions 

UCSB senior BFA dance majors Colin Sneddon, Madeline Takemori, Sergio Barrientos, Johnny Cox, Jasmine Agredano, and Luis Gomez are the choreographers for Fracture, the annual Spring Dance Concert, at UCSB Hatlen Theater April 11-14. The material ranges from pure movement invention to cult/group dynamic behavior and meditations on loss of memory through the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. Christina McCarthy directs the concert that also features a piece by New York choreographer Doug Elkins, who had a residency at the Lobero Theatre last fall with DanceWorks.

State Street Ballet reprises Ballroom, features several signature pieces from the company’s repertoire – new co-artistic director William Soleau’s “Five By Gershwin” and “Nuevo Tango,” plus “B.A.N.D.,” Robert Sund’s tribute to the Jazz Age – along with world premieres of “Stand By Me,” by Kassandra Taylor Newberry, and Soleau’s “The Ring,” a solo danced by Anna Carnes, and Laurie Eisenhower’s (of Eisenhower Dance Detroit) Lawrence Welk-inspired “Bubbles.” “Ballroom” performances are on Saturday night, April 13, and Sunday afternoon, April 14, at the Lobero, where the first show will be preceded (with VIP tickets) by an onstage class with ballroom dance instructor Derrick Curtis of BASSH fame.

The world-renowned French dance company Ballet Preljocaj performs “La Fresque (The Painting on the Wall),” the newest of choreographer-company director Angelin Preljocaj‘s evocative renderings of fairy tales, at the Granada on Tuesday, April 15. Based on a Chinese folk story, the piece for 10 dancers immerses the audience in a fantastical world through its choreography, evocative sets and an electro-fusion score by Air co-founder Nicolas Godin

Talk it Out 

Jarrett J. Krosoczka, the author and illustrator whose works include the popular Lunch Lady and Jedi Academy comic series, was a 2019 National Book Award finalist for Hey, Kiddo, his moving graphic memoir about growing up in a family grappling with his mother’s heroin addiction. Krosoczka will talk about the story of how an art class and a sketchbook saved his life at 7 pm on Thursday, April 11, in the Faulkner Gallery. 

National Geographic‘s best-selling Blue Zones author Dan Buettner and photographer David McLain spent two decades studying the world’s happiest, healthiest and longest-living people from the Silk Road to the Mayan ruins, the Great Barrier Reef and the jungles of the Amazon. Now they are sharing the secrets to living longer and better lives through a variety of media, including an illustrated lecture at UCSB Campbell Hall at 7:30 pm on April 15.

Acid Aspirations 

Bestselling author and longtime Montecito resident T.C. Boyle’s most recent book is another ultra-timely novel that fictionalizes a story surrounding an important topic. Outside Looking In explores the first scientific and recreational forays into LSD and its mind-altering possibilities, beginning with the early years of LSD, from its first synthesis by Albert Hofmann in 1943, to the time when it broke free of strictly psychiatric use in the Harvard-based experimentation of the 1960s that later gave rise to the substance being outlawed. With psychedelic drugs once again being used clinically, Boyle’s book provides an entry point both informative and entertaining. He will talk about it in a Parallel Stories Lecture at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, April 17, at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s Mary Craig Auditorium. 


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