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Playwright Robert Litz dies at 62

Also wrote for film, television

Playwright and screenwriter Robert Joseph Litz died Oct. 10 at his home in Los Angeles of natural causes. He was 62.

Litz began writing plays in the early 1980s, gaining acclaim in 1983 for “Great Divide,” which was produced Off Broadway at the New York Theater Workshop in 1984. Litz wrote 17 produced plays for Off, Off Off Broadway, regional theaters and the Elephant Theater Company, where he was playwright-in-residence beginning in 2005. Much of his work focused on social and political themes.

Some of his other critically praised works are “One World”; “Douglas”; “Mobile Hymn,” which won the Dramalogue Award for best play; and “Cycles,” which just completed a successful run at the Asylum Theater and Lab.

Litz wrote several television shows for A&E, History and Discovery including the A&E Biography episodes “George Washington,” “Benjamin Franklin,” “Andrew Jackson” and the Emmy-nominated “John Travolta.”

Produced screenplays included “House of Cards,” “Medium Straight” and “Rappin’.” Litz produced the indie film “Ten Tricks,” and he wrote scenes for Katharine Hepburn and Nick Nolte for “Grace Quigley.” His film “Playing the Room,” which he wrote and directed, concerned a revolutionary recording of the complete Haydn solo keyboard works.

Born in Cleveland, Litz earned an undergraduate degree at Boston U., where he was editor of the literary magazine, and an MTS in American Studies from Harvard in 1975.

Litz began work in the theater world as a press agent for the New England Repertory Theater in Worcester, Mass. He later also acted onstage in several productions.

Most recently, Litz was working with Michael Nylan on a children’s book set in Han China and on plays about the U.S. Supreme Court; he also had a feature documentary, “Madaraka & Jaffar Climb Kiliminjaro,” in post-production.

Litz won the 2012 Burger Prize for writing on the theater. He was a member of the Actors Studio (Playwrights/Directors Unit), the WGAW and L.A. Stage Alliance.

He is survived by his mother and several cousins.

Donation may be made to Feeding America, http://www.feedingamerica.org

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