Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Beat Voices February 23 - August 3, 2008

Beat Voices, a series of brief plays written, directed, and performed by students in the Department of Theatre and Dance at The University of Texas at Austin, will be presented in the Ransom Center Galleries to illuminate the exhibition On the Road with the Beats, on display from February 5 to August 3. This exhibition tells the story of the Beat Generation and the literary and social revolution they inspired through manuscripts, books, photographs, and visual art from the Ransom Center's collections of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and others.

Beat Voices enables audience members to engage with specific artifacts and historical figures in the exhibition through live performance, while providing students in the Department of Theatre and Dance an opportunity to gain practical, professional experience in a unique theater arts medium.

Beat Voices will premiere at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 21, at which time all four pieces will be performed in the galleries. After the premiere, the plays will be produced every Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 3 p.m. until the exhibition closes. Under certain circumstances, productions of these plays can be made available to school tours coming to see the exhibition. A complimentary teacher's guide is also available. Please contact Oliver Franklin at 512-232-3670 or ofranklin@mail.utexas.edu for details.

This program is presented with support from the Harry W. Bass Jr. Foundation of Dallas, Texas, and the Department of Theatre and Dance at The University of Texas at Austin.

Beat Voices is being produced by Oliver Franklin, Executive Curator for Public Programs at the Ransom Center, and Kathryn Dawson, Lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Dance. Karen Sullivan is the project coordinator.

About the Characters

Peter Orlovsky by Brian Fahey
Peter Orlovsky, the dashing young man whose portrait captured Ginsberg's fancy before the two met, became an ancillary Beat through his association with Ginsberg. Tolerated but rarely celebrated, Orlovsky here attempts to explain himself, achieve perspective on his role during the Beat generation, and come to terms with his torrid and tumultuous romance with Ginsberg.

Diane di Prima by Erica Lies
Editor and Beat writer Diane di Prima prepares to mail out the latest issue of The Floating Bear, a newsletter containing Beat poems. She describes the process of collaborating with her co-editor, LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, and their negotiations as they select which pieces would be included in this collection.

Letters by Erica Lies
Based on the cut-ups of the Beat writer William Burroughs, this piece juxtaposes snippets of letters from various Beats to each other and their families. Letters explores the varied experiences of these individuals through a form that relies on jazz music and poetry. The selected letters demonstrate the community between these artists, discuss the Beat take-over of Tangier, and describe the impact of fame with its attendant whirlwind of touring and traveling.

The Red Side by Alicia Reid
This piece takes its title from the only painting in the exhibit, a piece by artist Alfred Leslie. Here, the actor animates the painting, which comes to life to describe its experience being created, its essence as art and expression, and its feelings about being in storage in the Blanton Art Museum. A work of abstract expressionism, the painting is prone to emotional outbursts as it ponders the changing reception of art over time and its place in art history.

The Cast

Peter Orlovsky — Tom Truss
Diane di Prima — Erica Lies
Letters — Trang Bui, Ben Schave, M. Roberto Orduna
Red Side — M. Roberto Orduna

Creative Team

Theatrical Director: Luke Leonard, MFA candidate in Directing
Stage Manager: Eamon Corrigan, BA candidate in Theatre and Dance
Costume Designer: Alison Heryer, MFA candidate in Theatrical Design
Scene Designer: Lisa Laratta, MFA candidate in Theatrical Design
Dramaturg, Education: Lindsey L. Mantoan, MA candidate in Performance as Public Practice
Education/Outreach: Bonnie Brookby, MFA candidate in Performance as Public Practice
Education/Outreach: Dana Renée Thompson, Post-Baccalaureate in Theatre and Dance


Brian Fahey, MFA candidate in Drama and Theater for Youth
Erica Lies, MA candidate in Performance as Public Practice
Alicia Reid, MFA candidate in Drama and Theater for Youth

Event Calendar

View Schedule


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Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg. Click to enlarge.

A snapshot of Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg in India, 1962.


Ransom Center Galleries
21st and Guadalupe Streets

The event is free, but limited seating is available.

Video Clip

The Daily Texan recently produced a video about Beat Voices. Video courtesy of Jackie Stone and The Daily Texan

Watch Video

Audio Clips

Peter Orlovsky by Brian Fahey

Peter Orlovsky Transcript

Diane di Prima by Erica Lies

Diane di Prima Transcript

Letters by Erica Lies

Letters Transcript

The Red Side by M. Roberto Orduna

The Red Side Transcript

Performance Schedule

March 15-16   Diane di Prima
March 22-23   The Red Side
March 29-30   Peter Orlovsky
April 5-6   Peter Orlovsky
April 12-13   Letters
April 19-20   Diane di Prima
April 26-27   The Red Side
May 3-4   Letters
May 10-11   Peter Orlovsky
May 17-18   The Red Side
May 24-25   Letters
May 31-June 1   Diane di Prima
June 7-8   Peter Orlovsky
June 14-15   The Red Side
June 20-21   Diane di Prima
June 28-29   Letters
July 5-6   Peter Orlovsky
July 12-13   Letters
July 19-20   Diane di Prima
July 26-27   Letters
August 2-3   Peter Orlovsky