Friday June 23rd 2017

” The Beats”

  For those of my generation ( the 1950’s and 1960’s) the new production at 16th Street Theater in Berwyn, will bring back lots of memories- the little coffee houses where poets went to the mike and spoke of their dreams and hopes, the smoke filled cafe where the American youth expressed their desire for change- ah, those good old days!  This is a wonderful piece of work that was adapted by Marilyn Campbell for the stage and was first done in Glencoe at Writer’s Theatre in 1997. The world has undergone many changes in these 14 years, but “The Beats” is a wonderful evening of poetic interpretation that is also a history lesson about our culture and the change that makes us special.

The Beat movement was one where poets expressed their views on politics, marriage and survival of the fittest. Poets such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Diane DiPrima and Lawrence Ferlinghetti made young people see that change was needed and helped to propel them towards same. Under the direction of Ann Filmer, who was the assistant director in the original production has put together five very strong performers ( all born after this time of change) to look at what the words expressed by these poets means in today’s world. They look at their words, culture and ideas as well as how they lived and ask questions about the difference in our society today. Are these better times? Are these times where we have progressed in our understanding of the art form known as poetry? Or, have we regressed due to a world filled with hi-tech?                                              

The wonderful venue at the 16th Street Theater is ideal for an intimate show such as “The Beats”, allowing us to almost feel as if we were in one of those little “beatnik” coffee houses along Sheridan Rd., Wells Street or in Rogers Park. Yes, we were without drink and of course, smoke, but the feeling wa sthere and the cast of five truly brought the feeling of the words to us with the meaning of the writers. Malcom Callan, the adorable Carly Ciarrocchi,John Taflan, Jon McGilberry ( his “marriage” reading is sensational) and  Adam Poss ( who has an incredible vocal range and stage presence) are all dynamite. The jazz musicans behind them, Doug Lofstrom and Grant Strombeck complete the picture that Filmer and Campbell have painted for us- this is pure art!

“The Beats” will  only play through February 5th at The 16th Street Theater located at 6420 West 16th Street in Berwyn with performances:

Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 5 and 8:30 p.m.

Tickets are only $18 ( a marvelous value) and can be purchased at the North Berwyn Park District 1619 Wesley or by phone at 708-795-6704. You can also purchase them online at www.16thstreettheater.org

Student “rush” tickets  are $10, day of show, subject to availability.

There is street parking and a lot one block west of the Berwyn Cultural Center which is just west of Austin Blvd.

photos by Anthony Aicardi

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