Between rumors of a Spaceballs sequel and the upcoming release of Independence Day: Resurgence, Bill Pullman (aka Lone Starr, aka the president of the United States) has been front-and-center in entertainment news feeds lately. But he’s not just a bona fide movie star: Pullman, 62, is also a talented writer and director—and his latest theater project is making its debut in Denver.
The Wild Hunt, which Pullman wrote, is steeped in Norse mythology (Lord of the Rings fans should pay attention). The story follows Lussi on a journey from the mental health facility she resides in to a mythological world as she explores an apocalyptic premonition tied to the winter solstice and yuletide period. It’s a time “when the seam between the living and the dead is most permeable,” Pullman says. “It’s when human behavior gets so interesting to me.” Puppets (crafted by Pullman’s son Jack) and projections are also part of The Wild Hunt.
Created in collaboration with co-director Jennifer McCray Rincón, founder of Denver’s Visionbox Studio, Pullman describes the production as “a play with songs.” (Pullman’s daughter, Maesa Rae, who is in the production, helped with the music.) “I don’t come at it from a writer’s point of view. I come at it as a director,” he says. “I think, I’d really like to see this kind of [scene], and then I find the words.”
The Wild Hunt could also be called devised theater, which is a method of developing theatrical works through a collaborative process, often involving the performers themselves. “[We’re trying to create] a real strong sense of theater—not just some pale version of the movies,” Pullman told me as he sipped coffee in the lobby of Hotel Teatro earlier this week.
So why bring the production to the Mile High City? “Denver has got an energy of optimism and change and forward thinking,” Rincón says. Pullman adds: “Also, there are really good actors here.” Little bit of trivia: Pullman thought about setting The Wild Hunt in Denver—the blue “Mustang” at Denver International Airport was involved—but later changed directions.
Following a week of rehearsals—a chance to find what Pullman calls “the DNA of the thing”—focused mostly on the play’s first half, The Wild Hunt will be presented as a work in progress at the Exdo Event Center at 7 p.m. on Sunday, January 10. Though a bit pricey (tickets start at $100), this is a unique opportunity to see theater in process—and view another side of an actor many of us have spent years watching on the big screen.
In the coming months, Pullman plans to continue working on the play and hopes to present a more final workshop in New York. But the world premiere may be saved for the Mile High City. “It would be nice for Denver to be a place that launches new independent works and then follows through,” Rincón says.
Bonus: Attend a conversation about theater and film, including a talk about The Wild Hunt, with Pullman and digital media designer Phillip Baldwin on January 7 at 7 p.m. at the Sie FilmCenter. Tickets are $30.