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Journalists don't often get to step from behind the keyboard and onto a stage to tell their stories live and in real time. Noted writer and Charleston native Jack Hitt mesmerized a sold-out audience at Emmett Robinson Theater on Friday night in the first of four one-man shows that allow him to tell story after story while questioning the nature of truth and the present tense itself.

In "Making Up The Truth," Hitt made his stories personal to a hometown audience who clearly knew some of the friends and relatives he mentioned. Unimposing in black Chuck Taylors and a red tie, Hitt stood on a plain red linoleum swatch near a set of vintage kitchen table and chairs and was backed by occasional video and slides. In a low-key voice that occasionally erupted into emphatic bursts of incredulity or surprise, he took listeners from his childhood in Charleston to reform school in Tennessee to his writing life in New York. Hitt also went back six million years to developments in the human brain that turned man into a “self-narrating beast” and produced the constantly communicating, calculating, computating organ we all live with. “We talk to ourselves a lot more than we’re willing to admit,” he said. “Each of us is literally a legend in our own mind.”

Along the way, Hitt explained how he came to be known as “the guy with slightly incredible stories.” The first of them, “the Dawn story,” was about Gordon Langley Hall, a British socialite who lived on Society Street near the Hitt family in the 1960s and scandalized Charleston by having a sex change operation, emerging as Dawn Langley Hall, marrying an African-American man, and having a child. “She’s the one who made me realize that a good story is not just static facts,” Hitt said. His stories also include sex, pirates, fairy kings, a rent strike, Brazilian death squads, a funeral, the nature of memory, the duration of a present moment, and the evolutionary reasons for laughter.

Performances continue tonight at 9, Sunday at noon and Monday night at 8. Don't miss this ... if you can get a ticket.

Review by Harriet McLeod