Reviving the great Spirit of Woodstock at the Rye Arts Festival

Jonathan Brown (contributed pic)
Jonathan Brown (contributed pic)

Children of the Revolution looks at the 1970s.

As Jonathan says: “What were the 70s like for you? Were you alive? Does the decade look delightful or dreary in your rearview mirror?

"In this time of soaring oil costs, tight global tensions, women's reproductive rights under pressure, Northern Ireland back in the headlines, talent shows, the EEC in the balance, the environment battling to survive, new diseases afoot and renewed nuclear threats, who would have thought that a show, that deftly delves into the decade that most echoes our own times could actually be a way to see our current world through a lens that is both hilarious and chilling by turns?

“How is it possible to witness Mr Benn changing into a space man, fans mourn the break-up of the Beatles, Apollo 13 astronauts fight for their lives, Ian Paisley call for ‘No Surrender’, Greenpeace being founded, decimalisation confusing the nation, the first New York Gay Pride Parade, the Munich Olympic village hostages, those Brentford Nylons adverts, the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, miners at the picket line, Ted Heath call for a three-day week, Hughie Green introduce Opportunity Knocks, the shambolic evacuation of Saigon, public information films, beachgoers in the 76 drought, the Sex Pistols drawn at dawn, Charlie’s Angels first say ‘Good Morning Charlie!’, Thatcher enter Downing Street, Magic Roundabout, the Shah fleeing Tehran, Sadam Hussein come to power, Tony Blackburn introduce Top of the Pops and many more moments?

“With Space Invaders, the first mobile phone, the first email, the first barcode, the first CD, Apple, the first McDonalds, the Sony Walkman, the Intercity 125, the first test-tube baby, the first Gay-Pride Parade, a whole cultural and technological revolution unfurling, all opening up new minds, and new possibilities, how can you experience all this and yet stay sane in this crazy day and age?

“Well, apparently, it’s simple,” Jonathan says. “Just see the show.”

Children of The Revolution is the sequel to Jonathan’s five-star show The Spirit of Woodstock (all about 60s America) which played Brighton and across the south in 2020 and 2021. Jonathan plays 65 moments in quickfire succession: “The whole thing is imbued with the soundscape of the time. So you see, the 70s really are back, for you to immerse yourselves in and enjoy the whole decade, with your picnics, wrapped up in anticipation of a new era to come, ready to be taken back to a time that for many was golden.”

With The Spirit of Woodstock, Jonathan’s task is to bring to life an event which saw more than 500,000 people all squeezed together on a dairy farm in northern New York State. Audiences will walking along the 17b Road into the festival; they will be a chopper pilot ferrying the world's most famous musicians upstate; and they will be musicians about to step out onto the stage at Woodstock. Even more impressively, Jonathan will give the festival its wider context. Audiences will witness the shooting of Bobby Kennedy; they will be on the beach opposite the Kennedy Space Centre watching the launch of Apollo 11; they will be part of an anti-Vietnam war riot in Chicago; and they will be the captain of a Russian nuclear submarine submerged off the coast of Cuba.

“I was five at the time of Woodstock so maybe it wasn’t so important for me at the time, but I was marinated in the juices of 60s UK which was marinated in the world of 60s everywhere.”