Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Holy Terror and Jack Kerouac

The Edinburgh Festival (the biggest international arts festival in the world) got officially underway today with a drizzly cavalcade through the town, the first rain at this annual procession for more than ten years. My wife has been rehearsing hard for her part in the Edinburgh People’s Theatre production of The Holy Terror, which opened yesterday – a free adaptation of Molière’s Tartuffe into Scots by James Scotland. Details are at the link.

Unrelated to this, an excellent article by Sean O’Hagan to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I read On the Road in my twenties and loved it, but haven’t picked it up since. I would fear disappointment, but perhaps bits of it would still resonate? Hard to know what it would mean to young people today. Carolyn Cassady is in no doubt:

Carolyn Cassady, the last surviving member of Kerouac's closeknit coterie of friends and fellow Beats, now 84 and exiled in deepest Berkshire, is even more scathing about Noughties youth. 'It's all about money and surface now, the clothes you wear, the things you buy, and no one is the slightest bit ashamed of being superficial. I often thank God that Jack and Neal did not live long enough to see what has become of their vision'.

But the beat generation didn’t go down well with most of their elderly contemporaries either.


Colin Will said...

By a strange coincidence, I played the villain in The Holy Terror in a production for the Bathgate Theatre Company about 10 years ago. It was great fun.

Eloise said...

Ouch. I read On The Road a few months ago (I was travelling across America on the greyhound, it felt compulsory) and enjoyed it, although (inevitably) it felt rather dated. Don't read it again, it's one of those cultural landmarks where the memory is far better than the thing itself. Everything is too jaded now for that sort of exuberance.

I wish I could get self-righteous about how wrong Cassady is, how she's just reeling out the time-worn 'youth of today' speech, but I think she's right. My generation is greedy, superficial and apathetic. They are terrified of things meaning anything, as if actually saying something might commit them to a life which isn't ideal. But then again, isn't that what all that beat generation restlessness was about? A fear of commitment to life.

I hope your wife breaks a leg, or whatever one says at these times.

RcL said...

Rob, don't miss the poetry party on the Meadows this weekend, with appearances from Tim Wells, John Hegley, Clare Pollard, Tim Turnbull, Francesca Beard, Lemn Sissay, myself and several others.

Rob said...

Colin, it sounds like good fun!

Eloise, I think Cassady is making a sweeping statement and I don't think it's altogether fair. There is truth in it too of course, but I'd prefer to leave open just a little window of optimism for the future.

Roddy, I knew about this and I'll be there. Hopefully I'll catch up with you at some point.