Some would say storyteller Kevin Kling’s been given a hard lot in life. He was born with only four fingers on his left hand, and then later lost the use of his right arm in a motorcycle accident. As part of a theatrical company for people with disabilities–everything from Down syndrome to aphasia to MS–he was asked if he could take a pill that would remove his infirmities, would he? At that time, Kevin was the only one to answer yes.
Later, however, after an unforgettable moment of singing with his company and two world-famous opera singers in the Australian Outback, Kevin changed his answer. For all the pain he’d gone through, all the inconvenience, all the being othered, he wouldn’t take that pill if it meant he had to give up that one sublime moment.
At its core, Kevin’s performance is about who you are and where you come from. That includes everything from his Minnesotan heritage to his hatred of fairy tales (though he tells a hysterical rendition of Grimm’s “12 Princesses” which may be better than the original) to frank and candid discussion of his disability. All of these things tie together to make him who he is, and you can’t remove any of it, even the less than ideal parts of it, without winding up with a completely different person.
Kevin is a truly funny storyteller. His stories bounce from one another in a kind of schizoid stream-of-consciousness that somehow works. For the record, he may also be the fastest-talking Minnesotan known to man. His act is far ranging, discussing everything from taking his Dutch cousin to the Minnesota State Fair (Protip: Corn dogs freeze really well) to a memorable trip where Kevin performs a banned play in communist Czechoslovakia. As it turns out though, the play was banned by the Americans, not the communists.
“You can go anywhere you want, as long as you remember where you came from,” Kevin’s gros papa (grandfather) told him. And that’s really what the show is about. Where you came from isn’t just a place, it’s a state of mind, a state of physicality, a state of limitations and ways of shattering them. Funny and thoughtful in equal measures, Kevin richly deserved his standing ovation and was the perfect way to close out a stellar season of Storytelling Arts.
Thank you to all the talented performers this year. Hope to see some of you next season, which kicks off in September with Irish music and storytelling. In the meantime, Storytelling Arts will still be active in the community, including sponsoring a stage at the Indy Fringe Festival in August.
My ticket was provided free of charge by Storytelling Arts of Indiana. I was asked to write about the event but was not compensated and the opinions are only my own.