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Literary, Theatre, World Languages

Professor READY

Sonny Kelly

About the Artist

Sonny Kelly (AKA Professor READY) is a professional actor, storyteller, speaker, and university instructor of performance and communication studies.  Dr. Kelly holds a PhD from UNC Chapel Hill and he holds degrees from Stanford University and St. Mary’s University. He has served in the Air Force, corporate sales, college admissions, college Speech & Communications instruction, and church youth ministry. He has performed professionally on stage and television for over three decades. Sonny’s passion for educating and empowering others is unmistakable!

"The Talk" is a one-man show that expresses one father's struggle to explain race and racism to his son. By combining family stories, literature, music, historical research, comedy, and poetry Sonny explores and examines the historical, social , and cultural aspects and impacts of racism in a way that is full of love,grace, and clarity. He teaches students how to call people into community instead of calling them out. He plays over 20 different characters to draw all students together. This 60-80 performance includes a 20-30 minute Q&A. Sonny fac-ilitates a community discussion about diversity, inclusion, and unity. "The Talk" is ideal for middle school students and older.

Grade LevelsK-12
Maximums1,000 Students, 90 minutes, 5/day
Special Populations


Technical Requirements

One microphone (preferrably wireless) and one large easels

Total Fee1 performance - $550 / 2 performances (same day and same school)- $1,000
School Portion1 performance - $275 / 2 performances (same day and same school)- $500

In The Power of Words (POW!) Workshop, Professor READY brings over three decades of professional theater and screen acting experience, a love for poetry, and over a decade of experience working with youth groups. In this workshop students are guided through the process of reading, understanding, appreciating and dramatizing literary works. It can be modified for any age group, with the objectives of helping students to memorize and dramatize literature, write their own skits, poems and pieces for dramatic interpretation. For more sophisticated students, this workshop guides them on a journey to discover jewels of some of the great poets like Paul Laurence Dunbar, Maya Angelou, Edgar Albert Guest, William Shakespeare and more.  During each workshop students will get hands-on experience with difficult literary material, and they will explore ways of making it more approachable and easier to memorize and learn. Students will also be empowered to create their own brief literary work (i.e. poems, skits and short stories). Through creative expression, students will learn how to imagine new personal and social possibilites together. 

Grade LevelsK-12
Maximums50 Students, 60-120 minutes, 2/day
Special Populations


Total Fee1 workshop - $600
School Portion1 workshop - $300


After a year like no other for most students and teachers alike, how can we reconnect, reframe and reclaim our classrooms, whether in terms of our relationships with students or in terms of our own passion for the profession itself? Acclaimed performer and scholar Dr. Sonny Kelly will lead us in considering how simple performative techniques can provide inspiration for students to tell their own stories, for building classroom community, and for developing a courageous classroom culture for discussing challenging past and present issues and events. Along the way, you just might find yourself re-energized as well!



Building communication and engaging controversy through poetry and performance.



  • Face to face or virtual
  • 60 to 180 minutes
  • Ideally for 10 – 30 teachers (K-12)



  • I have a collection of poems that give voice to diverse people groups.
  • Participants will write haikus and a longer form poem.


Why a Performance-Based Workshop?

Dialogic Performance practitioner Augusto Boal (1995) privileges performance spaces as “spaces of liberty where people can free their memories, emotions, imaginations, thinking of their past, in the present, and where they can invent their future instead of waiting for it” (p. 5).From the beginning, Dr. Kelly’s goal has been to actualized Augusto Boal’s belief that performance can create spaces for positive collective growth and change (Boal, 1979). 


The Power of Dialogue

My use of the term dialogue is also based upon David Bohm’s (1994) definition of dialogue as an open, empathetic, collective, coherent, iterative, and reflexive sharing of unique perspectives, ideas, and ideals between participants that comprises a “stream of meaning flowing among and through us and between us” (p. 7). The kind of dialogue that The Talk pursues is what Lisa Schirch and David Campt (2007) conceptualize in their work on “dialogue for difficult subjects” as an open and continuous mutual learning process that “aims to build relationships between people as they address a common concern” (p. 6). It is through the episteme of critical dialogic performance and performance-making that I seek to facilitate intrapersonal and interpersonal dialogue that can reframe and reclaim a positive, dignified, and agential sense of self for, and with diverse community members.


Grade LevelsAll
Maximums50, 60 to 120 minutes
Total Fee1 workshop - $600
School Portion1 workshop - $300

Talking THE TALK: Dr. Sonny Kelly performs age appropriate excerpts of his critically acclaimed one-man show called THE TALK. He leads participants in a series of interactive self-expression activities  He then facilitates a positive interactive community conversation between artist, students, and faculty around difference, diversity, inclusion, equity, healing, and unity.
RESILIENCE a Virtual Interactive Storytelling Experience: Dr. Sonny Kelly will share inspirational stories and poems in the African and American storytelling traditions to encourage and inspire students, staff, and family members. This session includes live performance, interaction, virtual acting games, and a lesson on bouncing back and calling each other in to become better together.

Program consists of storytelling, interactive self-expression activities, Q & A and discussion via Zoom. 

Grade LevelsK-12
MaximumsUnlimited, 60-120 minutes
Technical Requirements

Technology/ Software  (i.e. Laptop, Zoom, Youtube, etc,)

This workshop is conducted via the artist's Zoom profile. It can also be conducted via the school's Zoom, Google Meets, Google Teams, WebEx, or other synchronous online platform.

Total Fee1 Virtual Presentation - $500
School Portion1 Virtual Presentation - $250


  • Cornelia Cox, Ayden Elementary School , 252-558-3662
  • Anne McFadyen, Brentwood Elementary School, 910-864-5310
  • Patsy Patrick, Cross Creek Early College High School, 910-672-1499