During the past two years, Sean Daniels, MRT Artistic Director, met with the Estate of Jack Kerouac about an unknown “lost” novel. It was agreed to be edited by UMass Lowell Professor Todd Tietchen and adapted by Sean Daniels into a play for MRT.
Jack Kerouac was from Lowell – American novelist, iconoclast of spontaneous prose, pioneer of the Beat Generation that set forth the Hippy movement. You may know he wrote ON THE ROAD, but he also had ten works by 1955, many rejections. It was ON THE ROAD in 1957, that brought him fame.
The HAUNTED LIFE reflects Kerouac’s rhythmic prose in a play that is now a reality. It is a deeply-felt family drama, set in Lowell. It takes place the summer before WWII about a coming of age and cost of war on a small town.
Before this play goes to the stage it is at the rehearsal hall for many weeks. It is amazing what goes on before an audience sees a play. There are five accomplished actors in the cast. Today at rehearsal, Director Sean Daniels, the co-director, actors, stage manager, sound design and other crew are putting the play together. The stage is a floor outlined in tape with a mini replica of the set in a small box on a nearby table.
The actors are sharing the script reflecting thoughts about family and war. Sean suggests –you are worried, angry because you lost your home– and the actor merges those feelings into the script which then becomes playable moments. An actor is becoming a person they are not, learning lines and movement, in harmony with other actors. This rehearsal is very different because it is an original play that belongs to the director about Lowell’s native son. Sean often uses “we” to collaborate with the actors and crew. They repeat, reflect, review. There are also break-out moments of laughs. Then, everyone returns merged into the script. The days are very long as the play grows from rehearsal to reality.
All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together. –Jack Kerouac
In honor of the theatre’s 40thAnniversary Season, The Haunted Life will be performed at MRT from March 20 to April 14, and destined to be a huge success.
Gail Gauthier, Cohort