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Beat Drama

edited by Deborah Geis , Enoch Brater and Mark Taylor-Batty

DOI: 10.5040/9781472567918

ISBN: 9781472567871

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Readers and acolytes of the vital early 1950s-mid 1960s writers known as the Beat Generation tend to be familiar with the prose and poetry by the seminal authors of this period: Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Diane Di Prima, and many others. Yet all of these authors, as well as other less well-known Beat figures, also wrote plays-and these, together with their countercultural approaches to what could or should happen in the theatre-shaped the dramatic experiments of the playwrights who came after them, from Sam Shepard to Maria Irene Fornes, to the many vanguard performance artists of the seventies.

This volume, the first of its kind, gathers essays about the exciting work in drama and performance by and about the Beat Generation, ranging from the well-known Beat figures such as Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs, to the “Afro-Beats” - LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Bob Kaufman, and others. It offers original studies of the women Beats - Di Prima, Bunny Lang - as well as groups like the Living Theater who in this era first challenged the literal and physical boundaries of the performance space itself.

'The Beat generation created a surprisingly large body of drama. This book covers the obvious figures, like Michael McClure, Amiri Baraka, and Jack Kerouac, along with somewhat minor ones, e.g., Ted Joans and Rochelle Owens. Writers of the period with tangential connections to the Beats-Frank O'Hara, Rosalyn Drexler, Adrienne Kennedy-get their due as dramatists. The essays on theater groups (The Poets' Theatre and The Living Theatre) provide some important context for drama of the period. A few of the essays interpret drama rather loosely: Ginsberg's Howl and the early poems of Bob Kaufman have some dramatic elements but are not really plays. There are five essays on the Beats and film. A collection like this one has value because it rounds out knowledge of the Beats and their role in the period. The plays themselves are minor. The notes to essays are often stimulating. There is no overall bibliography, but each essay has a good list of works cited. This volume will be valuable for those with a particular interest in the Beats. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.' CHOICE