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VERSATILE Comes to Theatre West in August

Performances run Saturday, August 6, 2022 at 8:00 p.m. Sunday, August 7 at 3:00 p.m.

VERSATILE Comes to Theatre West in August

Versatile, the award-winning show, is an Official Selection of Solopalooza 2.022. Written and performed by Kevin Neighbors. Directed and developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson. Produced for Theatre West by Dina Morrone.

Versatile is subtitled "Stories from Inside the Closet of a Half-Black Gay Man," but that's really only part of it.

Torn from the arms of a loving mother by Child Protective Services, Kevin is bounced around the foster care system in the 90s, when transracial child placement is frowned upon. Finally, he and his brother are adopted into a white family. But his adoptive parents are not comforting models of stability nor support for their mixed white and Black children.

Being mixed-Black, Kevin struggles to exist between two worlds. With light skin privilege in contrast to his darker brother, Kevin is forced to learn his place in the Black community. Still perceived as Black by many, Kevin copes with the colorism and systemic racism dealt with by Black men today, whether that manifests in encounters with police, lowered expectations for him in the higher education system, or how he is perceived by others in the gay community. He treads along through comedy, despondency, and emerging hope.

As he grows, he becomes aware of his emerging sexuality, at first denying it to some degree, but later discovering how far his pride can take him.

It's not all doom and gloom, however. He finds a couple of mentors in the faculty at his university who champion his abilities. He also learns that he possesses significant emotional and intellectual resources strong enough to carry him through rough times.

You'll have to see Versatile to fully appreciate the significance of the title. Kevin Neighbors portrays over twenty characters in the unfolding of his narrative, utilizing acting, poetry, Shakespeare, hip hop, characterized African wildlife that serve as his Lion King-inspired guides, all tied together with dynamic digital media.

Kevin Neighbors received a BFA degree in theatre performance and digital media from the University of Idaho. He is an Executive Board Member for the Region VII Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Jessica Lynn Johnson develops and directs Versatile. Acclaimed both as a solo performer and as a director of solo artists, she is the founder of the company Soaring Solo. Her directing credits include Unemployed Finally, The Mermaid Who Learned How to Fly, 365 Days of Crazy, Triangles Are My Favorite Shape, Bully-mia, Not My Show, Answers Outta The Blue, Dear Yoko,and more.

Versatile has been selected previously for the 2020 Black Voices Theatre Festival, the Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival's Hot Off the Press event (2020), the Whitefire Theatre's SoloFest 2021 (the largest solo performance festival on the West Coast), and was designated a Spotlight Production at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. It played at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2021 and subsequently won the Broadway World Los Angeles Best Solo Performance Award.

Versatile examines multiculturalism and intersectionality as they exist in America today. There's good reason for hope.

Established in 1962, Theatre West is the oldest continually running professional theatre company in the city of Los Angeles. It is a membership collective of actors, playwrights, directors, and technicians. Theatre West's alumni members include Ray Bradbury, Beau Bridges, Richard Dreyfuss, Sally Field, Betty Garrett, Martin Landau, Lee Meriwether, Jack Nicholson, Carroll O'Connor, Sherwood Schwartz, Joyce Van Patton, and Paul Winfield. Theatre West has produced more than 300 plays and musicals. Of these plays, nearly 70% are original works developed in its workshops and many have led to Broadway, regional tours, and feature films including A Bronx Tale by Chazz Palminteri and A Very Brady Musical by Lloyd Schwartz and Hope Juber. Our season continues with WestFest (a festival of new works), a new play by one of the company's resident playwrights in September 2022, and Moose on the Loose by Dina Morrone in April 2023. Our Storybook Theatre's Little Red Riding Hood will tour throughout the area in Summer 2022, supported by an NEA grant. Theatre West is supported in part by The Ahmanson Foundation, California Arts Council, Peter Glenville Foundation, Kaplan-Loring Foundation, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, and Lloyd E. Rigler- Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation.

Covid-19 safety protocols in effect on performance dates will be observed. As of this writing, that means that audience members must wear masks and be vaccinated (and able to show a vax card or digital record).

WHERE: Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, in Los Angeles, CA 90068. This is near Universal City and North Hollywood.:

WHEN:: Saturday, August 6, 2022 at 8:00 p.m. Sunday, August 7 at 3:00 p.m.

ADMISSION: $35 in advance, $40 at the door.

RESERBVATIONS: (323) 851-7977.


CONSUMER ADVISORY: Suggested for audiences age 14 to Adult.

PARKING is available in a privately-operated lot across the street ($10.00, credit card only).

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