Spoleto: Making Up the Truth
A polygraphic Q&A with award-winning journalist Jack Hitt
Prolific magazine writer, author, and NPR’s This American Life regular Jack Hitt recently made the leap onto the stage as a storyteller in this one-man show. In it, the Charleston native narrates the odd turns of his life from his childhood on Society Street, where his neighbor was the nationally discussed transsexual Dawn Langley Hall, through his early days in New York City, where his apartment super was rumored to be a hit man—a rumor that turned out to be true.
Hitt’s search for the answer to “Why do these things always happen to you?” brought him to experiments in cognitive research and the true nature of story-telling. We caught up with the fast-moving target in March:
Q:Your piece is called Making Up the Truth. What do you mean by that?
A:Cognitive scientists now float a gorgeous paradox: that the truth we see is crafted out of our flawed perceptions and into a very convincing story by our brains. So, we see a truth that is made up and made up every time we see it. All this time, I thought it was just me; turns out, it was all y’all, too.
Q:How has the landing been in your leap from the keyboard to the stage?
A:As effortless as switching from gills to lungs. Or, try Googling “failed parkour jump”—that might be closer.
Q:How do you feel about Charleston, your hometown?
A:Like a first girlfriend. Once I stepped out in the world, I was stunned to find out that nothing else was at all like her. I kept expecting to find that beauty elsewhere and have always struggled with the realization that you can’t compare any other place to Charleston.
Q:What gets you through a writing day?
A: The still gnawing fear that I might have to return to my very first job—bag boy at the Meeting Street Pig.
Q: What’s your favorite journey?
A:From my bed to my first cup of coffee.
Q: If you had to explain yourself in a Tweet, what would it say?
A:You’re telling me I must sum up something in 140 characters? Who are we kidding? Where I come from that’s not enough space to clear my thro-
May 25-28, Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 p.m.; Sunday, noon; Monday, 8 p.m.
Emmett Robinson Theatre, 54 St. Philip St., College of Charleston, $32
Photographs (2) courtesy of Thejackhittplay.com