I created the character of Hugh Hughes and started running The Hugh Hughes Project back in 2005. Since then I’ve made a number of live shows, site specific work, radio plays and short films with him.
He’s a version of me – I prefer to think of him as a comic character rather than an alter-ego. More like Steve Coogan playing Alan Partridge than Grayson Perry being Claire.
The character of Hugh Hughes uses a lot of my biography and personal experiences, then transforms them, making them his own. The character of Hugh Hughes allows me to fictionalise my reality and make up his own true stories. I wanted to feel free to tell people ‘my’ story without using the form of ‘autobiographical theatre’. I wanted to find a way to enable the audience’s imagination to wonder – to wonder who they were watching and listening to and what they were hearing; to wonder if they were connecting to a fiction or listening to a real life story. I wanted them to have fun with the puzzle of trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.
I enjoy making some of my work using the voice of Hugh Hughes because sometimes this voice is liberating – it enables me to tackle some themes more freely than I might if I tried approaching them as myself. The character offers me another connection to the material I want to explore. Sometimes I feel more creative adopting this character voice – the character is less knowing, more naive.
Hugh Hughes has a different ability to make theatre. He’s not as experienced as me. He’s not trained. His ideas are more unusual. Hugh has an exciting emotional and imaginative world that comes to life on stage. He’s wide open and hungry to share stories with audiences; he’s prepared to do more to share his emotional experiences than I might be.