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.
“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.
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.”