Office of Public Affairs
(315) 312-2265
Jan. 30, 2002
CONTACT: Kelly Cullinan, 312-3097
OSWEGO -- Casting "The Beat and the City," the upcoming SUNY Oswego theatre department production, proved different and difficult, Director Thomas Kee said. Still, the visiting assistant professor said he is thrilled with the resulting ensemble cast.
The play is an interactive, improvisation-based scenario involving an imaginary meeting of Beat Generation poets, writers and artists. This means that the student actors face the additional challenges of improvising the action and playing real people.
"The process can be somewhat terrifying at the onset," Kee said. "But with these students, the reaction has been to dive in deeper and work harder. That's what I was hoping for."
The ensemble includes Kyle Hubert as Neal Cassady, Desiree Fors as Carolyn Cassady, Ryan Manna as Allen Ginsberg, Ken Huss as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Smiley as Jack Spicer, Jennifer Caruana as ruth weiss, Kerry Reynolds as Denise Levertov, Adele Basile as Erica Curtis, Meaghan Thaney as Joanne Kyger, Jennifer McNiven as Madeline Walker, Rachel Reubens as Lenore Kandel, Adrian Burns as Gary Snyder, DeShaun Boyd as Bob Kaufman, Michael Climek as Campbell Smith, Scott Leiderman as Turtle and Erik Norris as the Cop.
"I focused a lot on preparation for the audition," Kee said. "Actors brought a poem or story from the life of the character they wanted to play. They started writing the show during the audition."
Production assistants are Reid MacRae Beadel and Kristopher Soule. Ryan Parow is the stage manager, with Tom Minot serving as assistant stage manager.
Smiley, who portrays poet Jack Spicer of the Berkeley Renaissance movement, said preparation has been time-consuming yet rewarding. Playing real people, as opposed to stock characters, provides a challenge, he added. "We're all trying to find recordings, to imitate their vocal patterns, which is tough," he said.
"We're all doing an incredible amount of research," Smiley said. "I've been trying to find people who knew my character, and I've talked to his estate. Other people are calling the characters that are still alive."
The participants have bonded as a "big family," Smiley said. "There's a magic between all of us. We're working as an ensemble, and we all need each other."
Smiley cited the improvisational nature of the show as another challenge. "We create as we go," he said. "It will be different every night. No two shows will be the same."
The cast also is learning to incorporate the audience into the interactive production. "They are an important part of the show," Smiley said. "They are part of the action."
"The Beat and the City" will preview at 8 p.m. Feb. 28, with a run of 8 p.m. curtain times March 1, 2, 8 and 9 and a 2 p.m. matinee March 10. All shows will be in Tyler Hall's Waterman Theatre.
Tickets are $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and students and $7 for SUNY Oswego students. Tickets can be purchased by calling 312-2141 or by e-mailing
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