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Split Personality

With his Nordic good looks, deep-throated stage delivery, and grab bag of eccentric characters he plays, actor Jackson Hughes is fast becoming a cult performance artist with the star-quality of a more WASPish Eric Bogosian.

Yet, the intense Hughes, 28, stubbornly rejects that “artsy” label--even though he performs wild monologues that he himself has written, and takes on the accents and salty personas he himself has given birth to.

Hughes’ one-man show, “Our Man in Nirvana,” runs Fridays and Saturdays till May 27 at Hollywood’s Theatre Theater.

Hughes plays a repressed German microbiologist who trance-channels a notorious fashion designer, a Polish-Jewish ballerina and other characters.

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“The fact that I write my own material is kind of immaterial,” the actor claims. Hughes trained with Stella Adler and Kim Stanley and made a career in commercials and TV before turning to the stage.

“I went into acting because I had this inspiration to play these roles that tapped some emotional reservoir within,” he says.

“But I’m not getting any of those great Industry parts so I decided to make my own work about an alienated scientist who channels these wacky, exuberant spirits. It’s a great vehicle for shifting in and out of identity and nutty psychologies and for commenting on a world skidding toward disaster.”

Audiences seem to agree, even if most respond to Hughes more as an inspired artist than he gives himself credit for.

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All the same, Hughes does think that frustrated Hollywood actors might begin writing their own theatrical roles to free themselves from the humiliating ego-smashing so many tolerate for the promise of elusive stardom.

“Writing my own work has been incredibly liberating and self-affirming,” Hughes says.

“If you’re concerned about social issues, yet want to entertain, you have much more freedom to say something meaningful--even upsetting--to your audience when you’re in the driver’s seat of your own play.”


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