Versatile. Winner of the Best of Broadwater Award. Written and performed by Kevin Neighbors. Directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson. An intimate, multi-media, hip-hop, journey through intersectionality and a code-switching master class. Kevin wades through a political existence, with the help of ironic African wildlife guides. Also available via a live-streaming option.
Versatile is subtitled “Stories from Inside the Closet of a Half-Black Gay Man,” but that’s really only part of it.
Torn from the arms of a loving mother by Child Protective Services, Kevin is bounced around the foster care system in the 90s, when transracial child placement is frowned upon. Finally, he and his brother are adopted into a white family. But his adoptive parents are not comforting models of stability nor support for their mixed white and Black children.
Being mixed-Black, Kevin struggles to exist between two worlds. With light skin privilege in contrast to his darker brother, Kevin is forced to learn his place in the Black community. Still perceived as Black by many. Kevin copes with the systemic racism dealt with by Black men today, whether that manifests in encounters with police, lowered expectations for him in the higher education system, or how he is perceived by others in the gay community. He treads along through comedy, despondency, and emerging hope.
As he grows, he becomes aware of his emerging sexuality, at first denying it to some degree, but later discovering how far his pride can take him.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. He finds a couple of mentors in the faculty at his university who champion his abilities. He also learns that he possesses significant emotional and intellectual resources strong enough to carry him through rough times.
You’ll have to see Versatile to fully appreciate the significance of the title. Kevin Neighbors portrays over twenty characters in the unfolding of his narrative, utilizing acting, poetry, Shakespeare, hip hop, characterized African wildlife that serve as his Lion King-inspired guides, all tied together with dynamic digital media.
Written and performed by Kevin Neighbors. Developed and directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.