Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jack Hitt: Making up with the Robinsons, channeling Bob Dylan

Posted by Jon Santiago on Sat, May 26, 2012 at 9:53 AM

While his director checked lighting cues, Jack Hitt trod the boards of the Emmett Robinson Theater for photographers on Friday. The atmosphere could not have been more laid back. Hitt managed to keep the number of spoilers for his show to a minimum, running through only a few scenes before he began ad-libbing dialogue as the cameras snapped away.

First came lines from a Wallace Stevens poem, followed by this: "I knew Emmett Robinson. Emmett Robinson was a friend of mine. You sir," he pointed at a stage hand, "are no Emmett Robinson!" Then the revelation. Hitt actually did know Emmett Robinson. Better still, the Robinsons and Hitt's family shared a party line telephone on which Hitt's sisters routinely listened in on Robinson's calls, which brought the man himself storming to their door, demanding that this nonsense cease and desist. Hitt chuckled at the memory, saying it was great to be in his old neighbor's namesake theater because, "All has been forgiven."

As if on cue, the lights went down onstage and when they came back up, Hitt rubbed his hands together. "Once upon a time," he began. He looked up into the rafters as if searching for a line. "You dressed so fine," he went on. "You threw the bums a dime. In your prime. Didn't you?"

Reciting from memory, he managed to make the Bob Dylan lyrics to his song Like a Rolling Stone, sound exactly like what lyrics are supposed to be: poetry. Which is not in any way to be confused with lyrical/poetic recitation — like this, for instance.

Given the hints we gleaned from Hitt's run-through, we anticipate Making Up The Truth will cover a lot of ground: intellectually, humorously, and with fond remembrance for Charleston, the city in which he was born and raised. Just don't count on there being any more Dylan channeling.

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