In a loose re-creation of the historic 1955 Six Gallery poetry reading in San Francisco, the Venice West Coffee House readings and other readings of the Beat Era, a group of prominent LA poets read favorite poems by Beat icons. As they read, they take on the personae of the various poets, and a dramatic situation takes shape as two offstage commentators drink, goof, commiserate, and conjure up the poet-readers from the audience, one after another, who bicker, flirt and heckle each other… all the while awaiting the arrival of “Jack” (Kerouac), who is always late, and may not show up. Finally, Jack appears (or does he?) and brings the evening to an emotional climax.
The 90-minute piece is partly scripted, partly improvised, not unlike a jazz performance where musicians depart from the sheet music to do their own thing. Poets are invited to choose the poems they prefer to read. The cast changes from night to night. As the evening progresses, the reality of the present shifts back and forth to the past. The effect will be a shamanistic evocation of the Beat Era, an homage to its lost heroes, as well as an entertaining night of live poetry.
The readers and poets included:
John DiFusco (Lew Welch), Elkanah Burns (Frank O’Hara), Eve Brandstein (Diane DiPrima), John Densmore (Gary Snyder), Bill Duke (LeRoi Jones), S.A. Griffin (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)