Written and performed by Kevin Neighbors
Versatile,written and performed by Kevin Neighbors, a mixed-race young man whose work is subtitled “Stories from Inside the Closet of a Half-Black Gay Man.” Fast-paced, funny, and poignant, Versatile hits its mark of capturing what it is to grow up and live in the spaces between racial and sexual stereotypes. As an actor in this performance piece, Kevin Neighbors portrays over twenty characters with impressive agility.
Kevin Neighbors wrote this high-energy play based on his own personal experience of growing up mixed-race and later realizing that he is gay. But the genius of this one-man play is the multiplicity of voices he not only incorporates into the story but his ability to perform all the parts himself on stage and assume the voices and characters of a large cast, modulating voices and characters in rapid-fire motion.
Kevin’s story is his own, as a young boy who was bounced around the foster care system in the 1990s after he and his brother were taken from his biological mother by Child Protective Services. At that time, transracial child placement was frowned upon. We learned quickly that he and his brother were adopted into a white family –suburban, conservative, and religious. His adoptive mother was well-meaning but racially insensitive and often referred to Kevin as her “mulatto cookie” because his skin color is much lighter than his brother’s. Being mixed-Black, Kevin tries to exist between two worlds, because he is still perceived by many as Black and has to cope with the systematic racism that Black men today still experience.
Directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, Versatile opened at the Broadwater Black Box Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood as part of the 2021 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Versatile has been selected previously for the 2020 Black Voices Theatre Festival, and the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival.