REVIEWS, COMMENTS, AND ARTICLES
For Kimberly Dark
[MAY 2013] Gay News Network
[NOV 2011] Theatre Press, Melbourne, Australia
NOV 2011] the Racquette
[OCT 2011] The Advocate – online or PDF
[JUL 2008] Fresno Bee
[APR 2008] Berkeley Beacon
[OCT 2006] The Commonwealth Times
[SEP 2006] Nouveau Queer Montreal
[DEC 2005] Hawaii Island Journal
[MAY 2015] Cal State San Marcos
I thought this [Gender, Race and Money] was a fantastic event. What I most appreciated was how you made this all observable for students through activities and participation. In particular, the the exercise with the couple, which demonstrated the gendered dynamics surrounding reproductive labor within a heterosexual couple was fantastic. I also genuinely appreciated the discussion on income inequality, especially when you asked the crowd if people could name a TV show that focuses on a family from that income bracket... I saw that students were really engaged and learning a lot through your use of exercises and participation.
Dr. Cesar Rodriguez, Cal State San Marcos
[MAY 2012] Penn State University
Nothing I write can adequately express the power of change that comes with a Kimberly Dark experience. Kimberly has been a part of my new works festival for 2 seasons, and her performance energies, her writing skills, and her expertise at creating social dialogue through theatre have continued to prove the power of artistic activism. At every turn, Kimberly offers a new way to look at and engage with the social issues that define the 21st century, and her greatest gift seems to be the fearless way in which she exposes her deepest heart through artistry. It is my firm belief that theatre creates visual/oral images of not only who we are as a culture, but who we can be as human beings, and whenever I ask Kimberly Dark to show us our greatest self, she does so. I have been privileged to have her here, and she has done what many people cannot believe possible: she changes lives by simply telling us a story.
Susan Russell, Artistic Director, Cultural Conversations New Works Festival
[OCT 2011] Susquehanna University
I attended three of Kimberly Dark's performances/workshops: "Is That A Dude? Gender Disruption: There's More to it Than You Think"; "Gender, Race and Money", and "Complicated Courtesies".
The first of these involved an examination of the gender binary and its impact on society's tolerance for gender variance and its perceptions of sexuality. Through a combination of discussion, interactive exercises, and a series of incisive and insightful personal stories, Ms. Dark makes an excellent case that misogyny still lurks in our culture, informing society's views of sexuality at a level that for most of us is unconscious. The audience for this workshop was mostly LGBT students, so the message may have largely been "preaching to the choir", but I personally found that having this dynamic revealed, and having language put to it so that the argument can begin to be made to others is greatly empowering. And regardless of whether attendees got the message, were transformed by it, or even agreed with it, I cannot believe that anyone could attend this workshop and not be left with a great deal of food for thought.
Gender, Race, and Money was a radically different kind of discussion. Rather than dealing with abstract intangibles such as gender and sexuality, this was a very down-to-earth exploration of the realities of personal finance in the context of race, sex, and social class. The conversation began with a discussion of the difference between assets and wealth. Then using this important distinction, Ms. Dark engaged the audience with a series of interactive and highly effective visual exercises that portrayed the differences in opportunity among people from different racial backgrounds, different social classes, and between males and females. Throughout, the audience was encouraged to view their own assets and potential for wealth in terms that give an important dose of reality to college students, especially to those from disenfranchised groups. And yet this was not done in a way that was at all disheartening or pessimistic. In fact, all of Ms. Dark's messages are profoundly positive and affirming, and it is this ability to approach and deconstruct a negative social dynamic in such constructive and encouraging terms that leaves such a striking impression.
Finally, Complicated Courtesies was an immensely fun series of well told personal stories that invites you to consider carefully whether there are facets of your personality that you are keeping to yourself unnecessarily, or are clumsy about expressing, and encourages you to be yourself, gracefully and lovingly. Again, there are so many messages in this performance that it is hard to imagine anyone who comes away from it merely entertained. Ms. Dark explores deep themes, topics that are difficult to talk about, feelings we don't like to admit having, or even feelings we don't like to admit seeing in others. And yet, she is able to address all of this with humor and grace, exposing the more ridiculous aspects of our society so that we can all recognize them for what they are, laugh at them, and hopefully move on.
I thoroughly enjoyed these performances, and came away from each entertained, educated, and extremely thoughtful. My head stayed full during the drive home following each performance, and the themes stayed with me long after I got home and thoroughly discussed them with my partner.
Dr. Annika Miller, Math Professor
APR 2011] Penn State University
[OCT 2009] Acadia University
[NOV 2008] Southern Illinois University
[MAY 2008] Bournemouth University
[MAR 2008] California State University - San Marcos
[NOV 2006] Sonoma State University (#1)
Hi, my name is Natalie Spain and I attended your presentation at SSU. First off, I just wanted to say what an amazing speaker you are, but on top of that such an amazing woman. Thank you for speaking to us in such a powerful, yet understanding voice. I was wondering about the last piece that you recited to us... it was beautiful and I want to know if it is available for reading? Please, if you get the chance let me know.
again thank you for everything
[NOV 2006] Sonoma State University (#2)
[NOV 2006] University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (#1)
Kimberly...you were absolutely amazing today--i can’t begin to tell you how grateful i am for your willingness to come into our class.
your ethno-autiobiographical performance work presents an innovative and highly original approach to a host of potentially contentious social issues, which are rarely addressed outside the college classroom. seamlessly blending comedy and high seriousness, you immediately put your audience at ease and thereby engaged them in a profound and honest converation regarding gender and sexuality.
...will do my best to see your show friday evening--if this doesn't work out, i’ll look for you on satuday! hope your show went well this evening. --andrea
Literature Department, Ethnic Studies Chairperson
[NOV 2006] University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (#2)
[NOV 2006] University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (#3)
"Kimberly Dark has an uncanny way of making you think hard when you think you are only being entertained. Her keen insights seep into your questioning mind as you laugh, are captivated by stories, and are wowed by the intimacy she creates with her to-the-bone honesty. This piece [Complicated Courtesies] weaves together politeness in all its gendered majesty, how to live with fullness and integrity, facing our own many "faces", and healing ourselves and others with the power of dignity. Never stuffy or preachy, this material can sneak up on you in unexpected ways, putting a new spin on old and everyday occurrences. Best of all, I recommend this one-woman show for students, where theater and story-telling far outpace lectures and power points to bring education alive and send us each on our next step toward growth and transformation." -Carol Plummer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, University of Hawaii, Manoa
"Kimberly Dark is a powerful, creative and informative speaker who is deeply connected with her audience. Through her performance Dark is able to express herself in a way that allows her audiences to become engaged and active participants... By using real life stories Dark was able to show the audience the importance of being comfortable. It was through her performance and seeing the ways in which she herself was comfortable. She was then able to raise the level of comfort among her listeners..." - Student, Acadia University 2009
"Dark used humor and art to demonstrate every day activities people engage in which involved power and control through what society deems 'normal' or 'acceptable.' Discrimination goes beyond gender, class, and race and people are judged by appearances or even weight or height. We are so easily conditioned to allow society to dictate what is beautiful and desirable, that we begin to measure our own self worth according to these standards. It was really refreshing to hear confirmation that we are in charge of our actions and beliefs even when it doesn't fit societal expectations. When we do conform and buy into cultural values and perception of worth, we only objectify ourselves." - Student, Cal State San Marcos, 2010
"This performance really affected me. I found her to be a brilliant performance artist, very articulate and smart. She was able to reach out to the audience in the most personal way, and I feel she really connects with her audience. I was drawn into her stories as they were teaching me about important gender issues. I walked out of there thinking a lot about her message about personal sovereignty. Her strong performance led to a sense of personal and social responsibility. I still reflect on her stories weeks later. I am very glad I was able to see Kimberly perform, and hope I will have a chance to see her again." - Student, Cal State San Marcos, 2010
"I was extremely impressed with Kimberly Dark because of her physicality and sensuousness and her presence was amazing... I found her two day master class inspiring and invigorating — it was so enjoyable and freeing to write creatively and perform stories in such a way — bringing life and humour to them but also making a statement for people to hear...she's an all round excellent package — including the lipstick! We bought a copy of her cd and played it in the car on the way back — her voice is just so creamy..."
"I suppose what I heard was her take on being active and physically doing something to make a difference — this resonates deeply with me as does her belief that we can use the arts to make the world a better place.
Her poetry was/is a mix of the ethnographic and autoethnographic and very engaging, entertaining, poignant, sensuous and did not shy away from taboo and sensitive topics such as race, gender, sexuality, incest, rape and body size — and without making them stories of victimhood — I felt we were invited to witness the events and peoples' struggles and it was up to us to connect with the messages/our feelings or whatever came up for us in whatever way we wanted. The connection between the personal and the social/cultural was clearly and cleverly and creatively made in that our personal stories act as statements of our experience of social and cultural themes — all in a generative and constructive way rather than an angry destructive dig from a place of woundedness, she took the 'sting' out of the stories whilst keeping their powerful messages. Her delivery also made an enormous impact in that through her eye contact with each of us I personally felt she was talking to me...she connected with us and that made the impact for me very personal." - Elspeth Samuel, (Bournemouth University workshop participant) 2008