Jack Kerouac, the ’50s beat generation writer about to be celebrated on film, will also be featured on stage. The only play he ever wrote, titled Beat Generation will be produced in his hometown of Lowell, Mass.
Kerouac, who would have turned 90 on Monday (Feb. 12), lived for a time on Long Island in Northport, NY. He was a literary celebrity by then, in 1958, but was remembered by locals as someone who spent most of his time at a tiny town bar called Murphy’s.
His mother, Gabrielle, who was a major influence in his life, lived with him. “He never had any money, so he’d get your ear ’till you bought him a drink, always Schenley’s whiskey,” Bob Reid, 69, a local fisherman told The New York Times back in 2006.
Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the University of Massachusetts Lowell that they will produce the three-act play.
A staged reading for eight performances only will be part of the 2012 Jack Kerouac Literary Festival, held Oct. 10 through Oct. 14.
Kerouac wrote Beat Generation in 1957, the same year his classic novel “On the Road” was released. Both are based on his life and close friends and fellow writers Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg.
The manuscript was largely forgotten until it surfaced in a warehouse in 2005. Kerouac has tried unsuccessfully to get it produced, even enlisting the help of film and literary stars like Lillian Hellman and Marlon Brando. He died in 1969 at the age of 47.
“This is a moment of literary and theatrical history,” said Charles Towers, artistic director of the Merrimack Theater.
While his play fell into obscurity, Kerouac’s book “On the Road,” became a literary classic and helped launch the Beat Generation, which eventually gave way to the counter-culture of the 1960s.
It’s now the subject of a new movie starring Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley.