Included in my artistic repertoire are eleven one-act plays:
Of Nine Tales, What Do You Ink, King of Spades, Mental Case, No Kiddin', Speakeasy, Retrospect, Just Fishin', Detention Wish, Habari Gani! Children Celebrating Kwanzaa and When Souls Whisper.
I have also written six full-length plays: Get Off The Bus, The Sunday God Gave Me, Ubuntu Holiday, The Poet's Corner (co-written with KL Brewer), Turnabout and Straightening Combs, my first solo stage performance.
It humbles me to be a recipient for Best Play (2011), Best Director (2008) & Best Supporting Actress (2006) for my work done at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Festival in Black and White.
In June 2012, playing the role of “Black Mary” in August Wilson’s play, Gem of the Ocean at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company (PPTCO) was one of the many heights in my stage experience.
In addition to performing and writing, I enjoy sharing my artistic skills educating and mentoring youth at the Jeron X. Grayson Community Center After School Program in Pittsburgh's Hill District.
Off Set with the Multi-Talented Kim El
Soul Pit Magazine 2012 Interview
By: Dessie Bey
“Acting is a skill I use on stage as well as off stage, I use my skills in all facets of my life”, explains Kim. “I take my craft very seriously. I’m not competitive when it comes to acting but very conscious about the acting parts that I choose. I’m a creative soul and a passionate storyteller with a purpose. All of my playwriting, stage performances, poetry, and singing is done as a means to stimulate human consciousness. My purpose is to ‘edu-tain’ as opposed to entertain, be it playwriting or poetry, I try to educate my audience by inserting historic facts or make mention of relevant current events.”
Kim’s acting debut was in a high school performance of “Guys and Dolls” at Schenley High School. Of all her various characters her favorite is “Black Mary” from August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. “It’s been the most challenging and interesting character I’ve played. I like showing the audience Black Mary’s story of redemption and her representa- tion of a post-slavery African American woman on a journey to self-assertion.”
On the other side of the table Kim has directed and written plays. “When actors
respect you and your work there’s a bet- ter chance of having a successful perfor- mance. As a playwright, I have been at auditions with directors who were casting for plays that I wrote and it’s an amaz- ing thrill to watch people breathe life into your words. I learned that really skillful actors can make your characters believ- able. After it’s all said and done, I enjoy playwriting more than acting, although I love the audience’s applause and enjoy entertaining on stage, my true passion is creating meaningful stories that teach or share life lessons with our communities.”
Kim’s advice for aspiring performers is to first do a reality check. “Accept the reality that acting is not an easy job. It’s work that involves research, auditions, time management, memorization skills, and self- confidence. You have to maintain a commitment to your craft as an actor to get good results. I also suggest that you find a mentor or someone who is supportive of your desire to become a performance artist. Shadow actors, directors, film makers, producers or other artists and listen to their words, pay attention to their successes and learn from their mistakes. Renowned writer/actress Ruby Dee offered this advice in a workshop, ‘Learn to act without speaking’. That bit of advice has had a tremendous positive affect on my creative abilities. For me, acting began as a glorified hobby that grew into profitable employment and an enjoyable life journey. Know that once you choose your genre of creative performance... It’s your choice... It’s your voice... It is what you make of it.”
On October 12-13 and 19-20, Kim’s one-woman show “Straightening Combs”
will open at The Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company. It’s a mixture of mono- logues, music and her life jour- ney. The character speaks of overcoming depression
Kim is a homegrown Pittsburgher with roots originating in the Hill District. She stands on the shoulders of the many unspoken August Wilson’s, Lorraine Hansberry’s, Gwendolyn Brook’s, and Dakota Staton’s. She is undeniably the essence of Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman”.