Actor/Director and Now Playwright Robert Wuhl Speaks About the Genesis of Hit-Lit at UH
From left: Karis Danish as Phoebe, Adam Harrington as Julian, Richard Hollis as Norman and Christly Guedry as Marisa; Front - Robert Wuhl)
Photo courtesy University of Houston
Check out our review of Hit-Lit.
The great thing about theater, says actor/writer/director Robert Wuhl (Good Morning Vietnam, Bull Durham and HBO's Arli$$), "is you can use imagination more."
"With a movie it's a much more naturalistic medium. If you have a scene that takes place on a ferris wheel, well you got to show a ferris wheel. But in the theater if you say it's a ferris wheel and two people are sitting in a cab with circus music playing, the audience believes it's a Ferris wheel. You don't have to be as naturalist. You can take more chances. There's a real audience there. They'll give you feedback. "
And feedback's been what he's getting this week as he has combined with the University of Houston theater department (he's an alum) to workshop Hit-Lit, the first play he's ever written, before it premieres in March at a New York City theater. He's also co-directing the work with UH's School of Theatre & Dance Director Steve Wallace.
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"Hit-Lit had started out as a screenplay and I kept having people tell me, 'It's too smart.' I said, 'It's like Tootsie.' And they said Tootsie doesn't get made nowadays. I was living in New York and I was going to theater and I thought: "Theater doesn't play down; you don't have to play down in theater to the 15-year-old demographic. So I started rewriting it and 47 drafts later, it's now a play," he told Art Attack.
He was visiting UH last year to accept an alumni award when he mentioned the project to Wallace. Wallace urged him to workshop the play at UH. Wuhl called being accepted to UH in his student days "the luckiest break I ever got. It's a good department. The school itself is terrific."
Wuhl describes his play as "a throwback romantic comedy in the screwball tradition of Tootsie or the Cohen Brothers" with a female editor who mistakenly thinks she sees a murder and hires the would-be hit man to write his memoirs. "He happens to be a blocked writer so it works out well," Wuhl added.
The lead actors auditioned in New York and will travel with the show when it goes there. UH theater students will fill out the cast. Two UH students, one in production and the other in the cast, will get to travel with the show to New York as a special bonuc, Wuhl said.
Wuhl also said people should come see Hit-Lit here, where it's only $20 a ticket. "In New York it'll be $100 a seat."
Hit-Lit's last performances are 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, February 2 at UH's Jose Quintero Theatre. For information, call 713-743-2929 or visit www.theatredance.uh.edu. $20.
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