About this project
Merrimack Repertory Theatre, a non-profit, professional theatre company based in Jack Kerouac's hometown of Lowell, MA, is working to bring Jack's long-lost play, "Beat Generation", to life this October 10-14. Your donation will help ensure Jack's words are finally spoken aloud, and that "Beat Generation" receives the best production possible.
“Beat Generation” is a story of friendship and karma set in the 1950s and its characters and dialogue capture the Beat mentality at the roots of American counter culture as only Kerouac could. The play’s premiere is being presented in Lowell with the support and collaboration of Kerouac Literary Estate representative John Sampas.
“At midcentury, Jack Kerouac and his fellow Beat writers posed a series of pertinent questions regarding the assumptions of the Cold War, the attractions of suburban family life, the costs of conspicuous consumption, and what they saw as American spiritual deprivation,” said Todd Tietchen, a UMass Lowell English professor and expert on Beat Generation writers. “Those questions take center stage in ‘Beat Generation,’ as the principal figures of this important literary movement reaffirm their friendship in a search for alternative approaches to life,” said Todd Tietchen, a UMass Lowell English professor and expert on Beat Generation writers.
The play’s premiere and the festival come during what many are calling “The Year of Kerouac,” which also includes the theatrical release of the feature film “On the Road,” based on the author’s most famous book and the U.S. publication of the recently discovered Kerouac novel, “The Sea is My Brother.”
“This is a moment of literary and theatrical history,” said MRT Artistic Director Charles Towers. “When the ‘Beat Generation’ manuscript was discovered in a warehouse in 2005, it made international news. Such is the remarkable influence of Kerouac on contemporary culture. Now, the entire script of ‘Beat Generation’ will be first spoken aloud on the stage in Lowell, his native city, and it is fitting that Lowell’s professional theater company – Merrimack Repertory Theatre – is producing its world premiere.”
MRT has a history of being the first to present Kerouac’s works to audiences. Its performance space, known as Liberty Hall, was the site in the 1980s of several sold-out screenings of the premiere of John Antonelli’s documentary, “Kerouac, the Movie” and in the 1990s, the stage adaptation of Kerouac’s Lowell-set romance, “Maggie Cassidy.”
MRT is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
Risks and challenges
Beat Generation has never been staged before, and every world premiere production is a risk but MRT has a long history of successfully producing new works and world premieres. In particular, the cast size required for Beat Generation is challenge for our theatre company. Most of our shows feature 2-4 actors, but Beat Generation requires a cast of 17. The scale of Beat Generation is larger than anything MRT has attempted to produce in the past decade. We are hiring professional actors who will be compensated, and we also need to provide costumes, meals in-between shows on certain two show days, and housing.Rehearsal time has to be shortened from three weeks to one week. Because of these challenges, we are performing Beat Generation as a staged reading (meaning actors will carry scripts) so that the performance will rightly be focused on bringing Jack Kerouac’s words to life.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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