Kevin Kling and collaborators explore politics' loving heart

A man with a plan: Kevin Kling in Politico.
A man with a plan: Kevin Kling in Politico.
Photo courtesy Open Eye Figure Theatre
Kevin Kling's latest piece, Politico, is subtitled "a love story." However, it isn't a case of puppy love.

"I love the idea of politics. I wanted to cut across the grain and do a love story," says Kling. "It's like when you move in with somebody and you really find out about them. Once [politics and I] moved in together, I found out we weren't as compatible as had I thought."

The show, the sixth in a series of annual collaborations at the Open Eye Figure Theatre, finds Kling sharing tales from throughout his life. "I've dug into stories that I always wanted to tell, and revisit some times when I was in the political thick of things," he says, such as in the 1980s when he was in Czechoslovakia and hanging out with what he thought were just ordinary theater folks. "I was actually hanging out with the future government, and they did a really good job."

Other stories promise to explore his childhood, travels in Australia, and a time in college "when we got a goat elected homecoming king," Kling says.

Politics weren't a huge part of Kling's early life, though he did grow up in a divided house: his father was a staunch Republican, while his mother was -- and still is -- a staunch Democrat. "I was surrounded by it, but it never concerned me."

Part of Kling's idea is to "tell the story of politics in a way that isn't on TV or isn't presented in the media," he says. I wanted this to be about the internal; how we can protect our inner real estate. At the same time, I want to make it entertaining. It is theater after all. It isn't a didactic piece. Theater's responsibility is to be the questioner. To be more Socratic in our nature."

Kling works with his collaborators to build that fully theatrical show. He is joined by a trio of musicians -- Simone Perrin, Jacqueline Ultan, and Michelle Kinney -- and designer and puppeteer Michael Sommers. 

Musically, there will be a mix of familiar tunes -- often arranged in unexpected ways -- and original compositions and underscoring for the storytelling segments. 

"Everyone comes in with this topic and idea, and we ask how do we each present our side of the idea," Kling says. "There's a symbiotic thing that is going on."

"When we were talking about it, song ideas came up. In this one, Kevin wanted a lot of familiar songs," Perrin says. "Kevin had a set of lyrics or two and Michelle set it to music."

"We chose songs with familiar choruses. We wanted to get people to be a part of the process," Kinney says.

"They are not a cover band, and the message of the songs we might have gotten at the time may have changed," Kling adds. "There are songs from different eras, labor songs, and songs from the 1960s. We are using songs from another era to see what they are really about today."

In the end, Kling hopes the show explores "what makes a good leader, and having someone doing something to you against their will. A subversive act is an act of love. It's a sign of health lives in a society," he says.


Politico, a love story
Open Eye Figure Theatre
506 E. 24th St., Minneapolis
Friday through August 19
For tickets and information, call 612.874.6338 or visit online
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Open Eye Figure Theatre

506 E. 24th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55405


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