Nationally renowned actor John Lithgow will be performing a monologue based on his personal experiences tonight at 8 p.m.

Lithgow’s “Stories by Heart” details his memories of being read to as a child and his attempts to read to his parents in the same manner as an adult. The show will be held at the Granada Theater in downtown Santa Barbara.

According to Arts & Lectures senior writer and publicist Meghan Henry, the multifaceted nature of the show makes it unique among the A&L series.

“He’s really one of the most eminent American actors right now,” Henry said. “Most people know him from television or film … but he’s really well known for being a ‘straight’ actor as well. What he’s going to be doing is definitely a theater piece, but it’s not traditional theater.”

The Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony Award-winning actor has had a 40-year acting career, which includes roles on the television show 3rd Rock from the Sun and the film The World According to Garp. Lithgow has also written several children’s books.

In the performance, Lithgow will portray nine different characters while telling three distinct stories: “Uncle Fred Flits By” by P.G. Wodehouse, “Haircut” by Ring Lardner and his own account of tales told by his father and grandmother as a child.

Henry said Lithgow’s fans will find his multiple roles refreshing.

“If anything, they will be surprised by his versatility … by how well he can go from being a very serious, scary actor to being very funny and very real,” Henry said.

Additionally, Ellen Bartling, a third-year literature and biology major, said she was especially impressed by the thespian’s latest television project.

“He creeped me out so bad in Dexter, I almost thought I might not be able to handle [seeing him live],” Bartling said. “I’ve always been really fascinated by people who are that convincing of actors… I think it would be really interesting to hear him talk about his work.”

Kevin Zambrano, a third-year literature major, said he is excited to see the actor’s more personal side.

“It sounds like Lithgow is going be talking about his relationship with his father and the power of storytelling and those are two things that I think almost anyone can identify with,” Zambrano said in an e-mail. “We all have fathers and relationships (or non-relationships) with them and we all tell stories, whether we realize it or not. Everyone uses storytelling for catharsis and entertainment and that sounds like a big part of Lithgow’s act.”

Henry said the performance will be extremely entertaining even for those who are not familiar with Lithgow’s repertoire.

“I worry sometimes that the way it’s being marketed and billed makes it seem like it’s going to be sad, but it’s supposed to be very fun,” Henry said. “For me, personally, it is one of the highlights of the season. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.”

Tickets are available at the Arts & Lectures box office and online for $21 for students and $38-$68 for the general public.