Kerouac: the essence of Jack
a jazz play
 
Kerouac: the Essence of Jack is a one-actor theatre piece written and performed  by Vincent Balestri.
The life of Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac is told using Jack’s own writing style, Spontaneous Prose, which in turn was inspired by be-bop jazz. First created as a 20 minute performance piece in a friend’s loft in Chicago, this jazz play toured for 19 years across the U.S. & Canada including extended runs in San Francisco and the Bay Area; Chicago; Austin, Texas; and  Jack's hometown,  Lowell, Mass. The last regular performances were in Seattle in 1998.
The piece had a beginning, middle and end but the scenes would stretch and flow with the mood of the night. Scenes were added or subtracted according to the mood of the evening. Most shows were about 2 hours long, with an occasional “Kerouac-athon” lasting 4 hours or more. One early fundraiser for a stranded acting company in B.C. went on for 8 hours.
The audience would meet the characters that inhabited Jack’s life in loving, funny and sometimes tragic detail. The actor was backed by live music whenever possible and there was a poetry scene in the middle of the show. Jack’s old friends or family would show up unexpectedly providing perspective on Jack’s life and the Beat movement.
Although Vincent no longer performs Essence in its entirety, certain scenes can be seen in  the independent film Beat Angel.