Minnesota storyteller's message: 'Dare to be different'

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A Minnesota native, Kevin Kling's stories often reflect his Midwest experiences.

"My grandpa and grandma in the 20's during prohibition.. my grandpa had some hooch in the basement and they had the preacher over for dinner and they started exploding, and he turned to my grandma and goes, 'there go your peaches, honey.' So that has lived in our family as like when something's happening in my family that's really bad.. it's still, 'there go your peaches, honey,'" Kevin said.

Kevin's stories are straightforward and humble - and is reputation is anything but.

"Where ever you go in the theater world you just mention his name, 'Oh we know all about him, he's amazing,'" said Jeanne Calvit, Kling's longtime friend and fellow artist. She describes him as an unassuming genius. "A story will come out of the most ordinary things, but they'll be extraordinary. You know that's his gift."

Kevin said it's a gift that was born out of necessity.

"I do say my disability has a lot to do with storytelling," he said.

Kevin was born without a bone in his left arm and then lost the use of his right arm years later in a motorcycle accident.

"When I work with kids I say what makes us similar what makes us the same is what gives us our resiliency. But what gives us our power is what makes us different," he said.

Throughout his career, Kevin has used his life experiences "on the fringes," as he calls it, to lift others up.

"We were going around the room and saying what makes you different and why does that give you power and I got to that little girl. She didn't say a thing the whole time I was there. And she goes, 'I'm really shy' and I go, 'I know. But why does that give you superpower?' And she goes 'because sometimes people forget I'm in the room and I'm invisible. And I know everything.'"

These days, Kevin is reaching audiences in new ways. In his most recent production he's done something that he hasn't done before: he took out the middle man and starred in a children's play he wrote.

"David Abrams says you need to tell kids stories before you read them stories because you're creating an imagination. And then when they read later, the worlds open up instead of just the words, and I think there's a lot of truth to that in terms of imagination because that's what storytelling really does."

Kevin's stories have played out on dozens of stages all over the world and in the imaginations of countless people. He's inspired them to search those fringes for their hidden strength and laugh in life's face when it says, 'there go your peaches honey.'

"It embodies everything that I want to be in my life. And so to be a storyteller, I really get to be the person I want to," Kevin said.

For more information on upcoming performances, click here: http://www.kevinkling.com/