A Beat in Time: The Allen Ginsberg Project
This is the first of four performances.
A 75-minute performance with seven actors and improvisation jazz quintet, A Beat in Time explores a lifelong search for identity, and the life events that make us who we are. Set within the throes of the Beat Generation, a time of increased liberality following the Second World War, the play traces the life of poet Allen Ginsberg from his beginnings to his end. The piece, adapted by Caltech Graduate Student Alison Koontz, is "more of a choreopoem than anything," she says. "With Ginsberg's own words to dictate his loves, losses, challenges, and epiphanies, this form is a fitting medium as The Beats were all about uncensored honesty and reflections of the poet's true soul in their works."
Under the direction of Caltech Theater head Brian Brophy, the seven actors share the voice of Ginsberg, frequently playing both narrator and other characters. At some points they dictate the challenges of their generation, of being homosexual in an unforgiving sexually conservative world, of experimenting with drugs and travelling the world. At other points, the actors take on roles of characters from Ginsberg's life, such as his mother, his friend Neal Cassady, or even the poet himself to demonstrate important scenes in the writer's life.
The feel of the piece is fluid, the transitions subtle, with the experience bordering on hallucinatory at times with projections, sound and celebrating the exploratory mid-fifties flow of live jazz. Barb Catlin (director of the Caltech Jazz Band) along with Caltech grad students Muir Morrison (tenor Sax) and Asher Preska-Steinberg (guitar) will create free/improvised jazz inspired by the readings.
The actors include Alex Chernoff, Manan Arya, Andy Colburn, Alison Koontz, Maryam Ali, Chandru 'GG' Dhandapani and Barbie Insua.