Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Beat Generation," a 1957 Kerouac play, to be presented this fall

Kerouac photo from The Bookshop Blog

The Guardian UK reports today that a play written by Jack Kerouac in 1957, called Beat Generation, will be performed as a reading for the first time at this year's Kerouac Literary Festival in October.

Here's an excerpt describing the play and Kerouac's original attempts at getting the play staged:

... Beat Generation, a three-act play rediscovered in a New Jersey warehouse in 2005, will be staged for the first time this October in Kerouac's hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts. The Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the University of Massachusetts Lowell will deliver eight performances of staged reading as the centrepiece of this year's Jack Kerouac Literary festival.

Written in 1957, shortly after the publication of On the Road, Beat Generation shows a day in the life of Jack Duluoz, Kerouac's drink-and-drug-fuelled alter ego. The play draws on his own life and those of other Beat writers including Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg, who subsequently starred in the film Pull My Daisy, which was based in part on the play.

Kerouac had sent his work to numerous producers and actors, including Marlon Brando, in an attempt to drum up interest for a production, but after failing to do so asked his agent Sterling Lord to shelve the script. ...

The author's biographer Gerald Nicosia said at the time: "Kerouac wrote the play in one night when he returned to his home in Florida after the publication of On the Road." The play was commissioned by off-Broadway producer Leo Gavin, but remained unpublished until 2005 and unperformed until now. ...

The production was announced on Monday, coinciding with the US publication of Kerouac's "lost" first novel, The Sea Is My Brother, written when he was 21.

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