Skip to Main Content

Tickets to World Premiere of Kerouac's Only Play Go on Sale July 26

Only 2,000 Tickets Will Be Sold for Limited Engagement


National media contact: Richard Kornberg, 212-944-9444,
Merrimack Repertory Theatre: Dan Berube, 978-654-7595,
UMass Lowell: Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209,

Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the University of Massachusetts Lowell announced today that tickets for the world premiere staged reading of Jack Kerouac’s “Beat Generation” will go on sale Thursday, July 26 at noon.  Tickets start at $40 and can be purchased at or by calling the MRT box office at 978-654-4678. The centerpiece of the 2012 Jack Kerouac Literary Festival, “Beat Generation” runs for eight performances only Oct. 10 through Oct. 14. “Beat Generation” will be performed in MRT’s intimate, newly renovated 279-seat theater. Order early - only a limited number of tickets will be available to this once-in-a-lifetime literary event.

“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 counterculture as only Kerouac could. Written in the author’s trademark autobiographical style, the play follows a group of friends based on Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg and others over the course of one day in 1955. The play’s premiere is being presented in Lowell with the support and collaboration of Kerouac Literary Estate representative John Sampas. 

“It is apt that the premiere production of Jack Kerouac's play ‘Beat Generation’ shall take place in his hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts in October at Merrimack Repertory Theatre under the guidance of the inimitable director Charles Towers,” Sampas said.

The 2012 Jack Kerouac Literary Festival will be held Oct. 10 through Oct. 14 by UMass Lowell, Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!, the Cultural Organization of Lowell and other community partners and features a variety of programs inspired by Kerouac’s works and life in Lowell that showcase prominent contemporary authors. The festival’s  theme this year is “Writing and Music” and will offer unique programs including singer-songwriter Tanya Donelly (of Throwing Muses, The Breeders and Belly) and writer Rick Moody (“The Ice Storm” and “On Celestial Music and Other Adventures in Listening”) discussing experimentation with the line between making music and writing prose, as well as events with authors such as Joe Blair (“By the Iowa Sea”) and David Kaiser (“How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture and the Quantum Revival”) and poets Tom Sexton (“Bridge Street at Dusk”) and Anne Waldman of The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. A reception and book-signing will be held for “Young Angel Midnight: An Emerging Generation in Lowell,” the award-winning anthology featuring two dozen UMass Lowell alumni, as well as screenings of films with Kerouac connections, literary discussions, bus and walking tours of Kerouac sites around Lowell, musical performances by Kerouac contemporaries like David Amram, art exhibits and more. 

“Beat Generation” is sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Lowell with additional support from 92.5 The River. MRT is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 11 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 12 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 13 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Born Jean-Louis Kerouac in 1922, Kerouac is Lowell’s most famous native son. He was a football star at Lowell High School and was awarded a scholarship to Columbia University. However, Kerouac was unhappy in college and after his father lost his printing business, he dropped out of school. During World War II, he joined the Merchant Marine and became friends with Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. Kerouac wrote his first novel, “The Town and the City,” about his struggle to balance the expectations of his family with his unconventional life, which was published in 1950 with Ginsberg’s help. Kerouac took several cross-country trips with Cassady during this time, which became the basis for his most famous work, “On The Road.” The manuscript – presented to his editor on a single, unbroken roll of paper, the scroll that was later exhibited to record crowds in Lowell – was rejected and six years would pass before it was published in 1957. In the years in between, Kerouac followed Ginsberg and Cassady to San Francisco and the term “Beat Generation,” which Kerouac coined, gained popularity. When Kerouac finally broke through with the release of “On The Road,” he was faced with challenges presented by the fame that followed as he tried to live up to the image portrayed in his novels and facing criticism from the literary establishment for being part of what was considered a fad. He would go on to publish additional novels, many of which used settings based on Lowell – including “Doctor Sax,” “The Subterraneans,” “The Dharma Bums” and his final great work, “Big Sur.” He settled in Florida with his wife, Stella Sampas, and his mother, where he died in 1969 at age 47. He was buried in Lowell. 

Even after his death, Kerouac’s popularity continues. “On The Road” has remained widely read and a new film adaptation of the novel starring Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart recently premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Kerouac was named one of the most important figures of the 20th century by LIFE Magazine and The Times of London and interest in Kerouac has grown with the publication of his letters, poetry, spiritual writings, early novels and more from his remarkable literary archive. He has been cited as an influence by countless writers and musicians, including The Doors. A 2005 forum in New York featured a reading of a passage from “Beat Generation” by actor Ethan Hawke, but to date, the play has yet to be staged in its entirety. 

Founded in 1979 by a group of committed civic leaders, Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s mission is “to advance the cause of human understanding by creating theatrical productions at the highest level of artistic excellence and making them affordable to the broadest possible community.” Merrimack Rep’s unique artistic vision is shaped by a passion for excellence and a profound commitment to its community. It strives to enhance the community’s quality of life while contributing to its economic strength, measuring success by the depth of the company’s artistic and social contribution to the region. 

A member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), MRT has received hundreds of awards and accolades, including recognition in American Theatre Magazine, The Boston Globe, Boston Magazine and The New York Times for artistic excellence and its contribution to the community. MRT’s history comprises more than 210 productions including 16 world premieres and 34 regional premieres, contributing significantly to the canon of the American theater and bringing new plays to audiences throughout New England. Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s 2012-2013 season is sponsored by LowellBank. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. For details on MRT’s season information, show times, tickets, directions or to request a brochure, visit or call 978-654-4MRT (4678).

UMass Lowell is a comprehensive, national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 15,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, management, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.