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If I were still living in New England, I’d be heading for the Kerouac Literary Festival…

…more precisely to the Merrimac Repertory Theatre in Kerouac’s hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts, where Beat Generation, a three-act play rediscovered in a New Jersey warehouse in 2005, will be staged for the first time this October.

Kerouac in 1967


Kerouac is an author I have followed since reading On The Road when I was a teenager. Beat Generation was written around the same time as a commission from off-Broadway producer Leo Gavin, but it was never produced or published.

Kerouac tried to get Marlon Brando and several producers’ interest in a production, but failed. After that the script was shelved.

It was rediscovered in 2005 and Kerouac’s then agent, Sterling Lord commented:

“It conveys the mood of the time extraordinarily well, and also the characters are authentically drawn.”

The play was apparently written in one night in 1957 and 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  Beat Generation.

The Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the University of Massachusetts Lowell will deliver the World Premiere as eight staged readings –  the centrepiece of this year’s Jack Kerouac Literary Festival.

If you’re a Kerouac fan and near Lowell, MA, in October, this is something to see.

Nicol Williamson, legendary British actor, dies at 75…

He was once heralded as the greatest British actor of his generation. Nicol Williamson was known for stormy onstage behavior- including calling off a 1969 performance of “Hamlet” mid-speech because he was too tired to go on.

“I’ll pay for the seats, but I won’t shortchange you by not giving my best.” said Williamson. And then he walked off stage.

At age 26 when he auditioned for “Inadmissible Evidence,” playwright John  Osborne wrote in his diary that this “pouting, delinquent cherub produced the face to match the torment below the surface. He is much too young, 26, to the character’s 39, but no matter. He is old within.” The playwright called Williamson “the 

greatest actor since Marlon Brando.”

After appearing in films, television productions and plays on the English and Broadway stages, he retreated to Amsterdam about two decades ago and focused on playing country music. Before he died, he was able to finish recording the CD he had been working on, said his son, Williamson’s only immediate survivor. “He didn’t want any fuss made over his passing. He was not interested in publicity,” said Luke Williamson.

Nicol Williamson was known for being hard to get along with, especially by directors and producers (he once punched David Merrick during a rehearsal), and he commentd on his own personality:

“I think the only valuable thing you can do as an actor is to make people recognize in themselves what is also there in you, and what you see in them. Then they’ll hate you because they don’t want you to do that to them. That’s why I’m hated a lot of the time. They don’t want you to show these things in you because it makes them uncomfortable. It makes them frightened. But I think you must show these things in order to be true to yourself.”

Something my Theatre Friends may find very interesting… a play by Jack Kerouac!

This discovery of a previously unpublished and certainly unproduced Kerouac play, written at the height of his literary power, is something of interest to those of us who are interested in the Beat Generation. This article from the Guardian has more in it… I suggest that those interested read it all:
clipped from

‘Lost’ Kerouac play resurfaces after 50 years

Beat Generation ‘conveys the mood of the time extraordinarily well’

It is the sort of irony that would not have been lost on the notoriously hard-living writer. Excerpts from an unpublished play by Jack Kerouac are to be published in the July edition of a men’s lifestyle magazine.

Beat Generation, written in the autumn of 1957, the same year as the publication of Kerouac’s breakthrough work On the Road, was unearthed in a New Jersey warehouse six months ago. An excerpt will appear in the July issue of Best Life magazine.

The play recounts a day in the life of the hard-drinking, drug-fuelled life of Jack Duluoz, Kerouac’s alter-ego.

Although the play was never published or performed, the third act became the basis for a film, Pull My Daisy, starring Allen Ginsberg.
Kerouac’s agent, Sterling Lord, said Kerouac had sent it to several producers but it was turned down.
Kerouac even sent the play to Marlon Brando, Mr Lord said.
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