Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The play, Too Blunt! Confessions of a Black Gay Child, is appearing as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. What inspired you to tell this story, and how would you describe your creative process in bringing it to life?
Kelvin Blunt: Well, first off, I felt disconnected from the roles I was being cast to play (cops, detectives, therapists). Those are great roles (and Hollywood always seem to need them), but those characters rarely have multi-layered backstories. But, secondly, I realized the disconnection I felt from the roles was due to not being in touch with what pervades my own day-to-day life so I wrote this show to fill in the blanks, if you will, and I discovered that my own backstory was as rich and intriguing as the scripts I’d been reading.
Regarding the creative process, I was inspired by the personal narrative, social commentary, and irreverent humor of Dave Chappelle, Kathy Griffin, and Paul Mooney. They inspired me to write what I felt and needed and allow my sense of humor to come out, too, even when talking about difficult things. The topics that made it into the show (coming out to family, the perversity of gay apps and dating, body image, intersectionality of being African-American and gay, etc.) came out of spontaneous writing sessions I had last summer and fall. Then, I enlisted Chris Game to direct the show, made more changes to the script, and began rehearsals in February.
BD: Given that the performance is a one-performer show, how do you balance the workload within the production, and do you feel that the various roles enhance your creative process?
KB: I have a greater appreciation now for working with a cast and producer to help with the workload of putting up a production. Given that I wrote, performed, and produced the show, it has taken a lot of juggling and learning on the fly. That said, it has been exhilarating creatively. I selected all the music and slides that play during the show and that process definitely fed me creatively because it allowed me to really listen to what I wanted to say and what was needed.
For instance, there’s a one-minute video that plays near the end of the show. It wasn’t part of the plan to have a video plan during the show, but the song (the Kaytranada remix of Janet Jackson’s If) conjured up memories of my childhood crushes, and I wanted the audience to see visually what I felt as a sexually repressed kid in Bible-belt Missouri. The final imagery is sensual and pleasantly overwhelming, which is what I felt as I was coming to grips with being gay.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
KB: I hope audiences have a wonderful time primarily. There is a lot of humor in the show, more than I intended, so, hopefully, the audience has fun. I also want the audience to leave the theater thinking about the topics I shared in new, fresh or validating ways. So far, audience responses have been positive and sometimes very personal. A young man shared with me after one show his 50-pound weight loss journey and it got really emotional because not many people know what that process entails. Some audience members, primarily men, have thanked me for talking about my relationship with my father, and still others have never considered what it might be like to live life in America as someone who’s African-American and gay. Many African-American gay audience members have thanked me for telling our story, because we still don’t get to see ourselves much in American cinema and theater.
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival an ideal venue for Too Blunt!?
KB: The Hollywood Fringe Festival provides support and resources to help you have a fulfilling experience, from the weekly Office Hours, Fringe Central, and the Opening Party. It has also been wonderful to connect with artists who are also doing solo shows Hollywood Fringe Festival including Ramy El-Etreby, Crystal Bush, and Nicole Steinwedell. Their shows are amazing, by the way.
BD: The show will be appearing at the Davidson/Valentini Theater at the LA LGBT Center through the end of the month. Will you continue the production at other venues following this run?
KB: It’s been wonderful doing the show at the Davidson/Valentini Theater. It’s still surreal to walk into the LA LGBT Center before the show, especially given that it is LGBT Pride Month. They are so supportive, and I would love to work with the technical staff there in the future. That said, I’m certainly open to continuing Too Blunt! at other venues. I’ve also been asked to bring the show to other cities including Jacksonville, Florida, and my hometown Kansas City, Missouri.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
KB: I’m appearing in a fun web series called Generation Z early in July. My appearance in The Wrong Man on the Lifetime Movie Network is still playing, so readers should be able to catch me in that project, too. I worked with the ubiquitous Vivica A. Fox on that one, and she was so personable and supportive of my work.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Too Blunt!?
KB: Readers can learn more about Too Blunt! via my show page on the Hollywood Fringe site and also from following me on Instagram: @kelvinblunt.