Master storyteller Sonny Kelly presents The Talk, a powerful message in trying times
In a masterful style that alternately prompts us to laugh, cry and think, Sonny Kelly is a storyteller for our times. The Talk with Sonny Kelly: Using Art to Discuss Difficult Topics will be presented in two free shows on Sunday, October 14, at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, 301 Hay Street in downtown.
The Talk was born out of a painful conversation that Sonny Kelly had with his 7-year-old son after confronting recent news reports about multiple killings and beatings of black men by civil authorities. What has emerged is a one-man performance that draws on the voices of ancestors, elders, youths and intellectuals to shed light on a racialized America and, ultimately, to engage the audience in an important conversation.
Sonny Kelly, who resides in Fayetteville, says The Talk has always been about a father’s profoundly abiding love for his son. He invites audience members into a complicated, but loving, space where we are all encouraged to imagine new possibilities together.
“Sonny perfectly balances an intellectual understanding of race theory leading to ‘the talk’ with the emotional heartbreak of a parent having to tell his child that the world will judge him solely on the color of his skin,” says Joseph Megel, an Artist in Residence in the Communications Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
A family-appropriate performance, geared to adults and youth ages 10 to 16, is from 2 to 3:30 p.m. An adults-only performance, for its raw candor and language, is from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
The performances are brought to the public by the Arts Council, through Cumberland Makers and Creatives, a new initiative to grow support and opportunities for local creatives across disciplines.
Sonny Kelly is currently pursuing his doctorate in Communication & Performance at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University (MA, Communication Studies, ’08) and Stanford University (BA, International Relations, ’98). After serving as a U.S. Air Force officer, he went on to serve as a nonprofit organization director, university admissions counselor, award-winning pharmaceutical salesman, college communications instructor, and a church youth pastor. As a lover of theater and performance, Sonny has acted professionally on stage and television for more than 20 years. As a professional storyteller, he has performed for the National Association of Black Storytellers and the Black Storytellers’ Alliance, as well as schools, businesses and civic organizations across the country.
He continues to volunteer with youth programs like Boomerang, which serves suspended youth in Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools, as well as Fayetteville Urban Ministry’s Find-A-Friend program, serving at-risk youth in Cumberland County.