Kimberly Dark continues to work tirelessly on her abilities as a parent, poet, professor and raconteur who can unfold the world through performance, smooth out the crinkles from folding, read the legend and say "You Are Here." Someday she will even be able to refold the world and fit it back into the glove-box. Her practice includes writing every day, walking on the beach with her teenage son, teaching in classrooms, online and anywhere else that seems appropriate. She travels far and wide performing stories that scandalize some audiences and affirm the very existence of others. She wins theatre awards, enjoys standing ovations and endures days when settling down to a more regular life seems more sensible. She has performed and taught in fancy theatres and esteemed classrooms as well as in the jungle where the frogs chirp so loudly and the rain falls so hard, one has to pause to accommodate. She loves a technically well-equipped venue, but also loves a stage where there’s nothing swanky – just the body, the voice, the word and the audience. Some of these things qualify her as an artist; some of them just qualify her. Kimberly's writing and performances have delighted and incited audiences at theaters and universities across North America and Europe for the past ten years. She continues to teach sociology at Cal State San Marcos when her schedule allows. Her frequent themes are gender, sexuality, poverty, privilege, parenting and education. Her work blends humor, poetry, story-telling, education and social research to stimulate both social analysis and action. But wait! Here are some other opinions about her work: "This balance between objectivity and intimate analysis certainly gives Dark an edge and has made her a force to be reckoned with." The Evening Echo, Cork "Dark doesn't shy away from provocative, incindiary statements. But don't expect a rant. Her shows, levened with humor, are more likely to explore how everyday moments effect the arc of our lives." Salt Lake City Tribune "The audience is engaged by her presence... a master of female flirtation, the audience draws near to her." Rocky Mountain Collegian "Kimberly Dark's ethno-autobiographical 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, Dark immediately puts her audience ease and thereby engages them in a profound and honest conversation regarding gender and sexuality." -Dr. Andrea Herrera UCCS Ethnic Studies Department
Marilyn's Smile I sympathized with Marilyn Monroe for her smile. My mother gave me smiling lessons when I was a child. I was older than I when I received hand-shaking tutelage, younger than for tips on feminine smoking, that's for sure. "You have a beautiful smile." She began. "Some people's mouths show too much gum above the teeth -- so you don't want to smile too big. You can fix that though, if you're aware of it." I was in my bed, nearing sleep-time. I loved her casual stories about appearance, etiquette -- the way she took for granted that anyone could improve her appearance with a little planning and concentration. "Take Marilyn Monroe for example. Terrible smile at first! She had to learn about presenting herself before she was so pretty and sexy. But she's too much. That voice! You want to sound more natural, not too loud, but not so breathy either." My mother lowered her eyelids a bit and breathed out a line or two from the dead President's Happy Birthday song, imitating Marilyn. We laughed and I imitated as well. We laughed some more. "Marilyn had to learn to roll her lips up around her teeth into a smile so they'd cover them. Like this." She demonstrated pressing her lips firmly onto her teeth, then peeling them back into a smile slowly so they stayed flat against the teeth. It didn't look quite happy, until she added laughing happy eyes. So much goes into a smile, I thought. And I pitied Marilyn her diligence. If that's just the smile, how much concentration must go into the rest? The voice, the walk, the sitting, standing, small movements of her hands, turn of her body at the waist. How much planning would that take to make it all look natural for her? I wondered as I drifted to sleep in my childhood bed. Of course, my mother knew the truth. Appearing naturally beautiful could be taught and learned the knowledge bought and sold. And that after a while, the new habits do become natural just the way you are. So it was for Marilyn, I'm sure. But with that knowledge, that she had been so coached, my mother was jaded. None of that was natural, couldn't everyone tell? The trick was in planning to look "natural." And this is what I learned, in my childhood. Make-up to enhance the structure of the face, not embellish it. Clothing to hide what were called "figure flaws" not draw undue attention to either hips, bust or legs. A well modulated voice, presenting refined diction, naturally. All of it contrived to bring out the "natural" beauty of the woman. But what of the nature of the flawed figure -- the loud voice? I wondered this through years of non-conformity. I wondered where nature resides, if not in these hips, thighs and breasts when all we do is somehow constructed for viewing by another. And really, we just make it "look natural." I am thankful now that the body does not always conform, refuses to look natural as it is being pinched or cut. But then, my eye's view is still outside the norm. They sold Marilyn's pots and pans. Thirty-five years after her death, the intimate contents of her household on the auction block. The mundane aspects of her life, kitchen items, driver's license, ashtrays, dog-eared copies of her favorite books. The things that belied her "natural" life. Would anyone have cared if her natural life were all there was? Would it have been so unbearably voyeuristic to think of her, with this pan, standing by a stove wearing a terry cloth robe cooking soup for dinner? Or to imagine her sore and sweating foot emerging from the Ferragamo pump that you now hold. Fondling a book that seems to prove she did read, and think, as she turned her head, just so, cast her eyes, down at just a 35 degree angle.
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