Kevin R. Free
(This bio is long. You may want to pop some popcorn before you read it.)
Kevin R. Free is a multidisciplinary artist whose work as a storyteller has been showcased many places, including Target Margin (2018), the Where Project (2015), QED: A Place for Storytelling (2014); on the Moth Mainstage (“Heart of Darkness,” 2012), Dana Rossi’s The Soundtrack Series, Kathleen Warnock’s Drunken! Careening! Writers! (2012).
As an actor, Mr. Free has appeared on television on Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU, Murphy Brown, Cyberchase, and in several national and regional commercials. In 2018, he made his feature film debut in Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade. New York audiences have seen Mr. Free Off-Broadway, playing the role of Bellomy in The Fantasticks (the first African-American to play the role in the New York Production's 54-year history). He created the role of Michael Curtiz in Reid & Sara Farrington’s Drama Desk-nominated CasablancaBox in 2017. Other notable NYC acting work: Night of the Living N-Word!! (Also, writer; Overall Excellence in Playwriting, FringeNYC 2016); Marian, or The True Tale of Robin Hood (Flux Theatre Ensemble); The Making of King Kong (Target Margin); From My Hometown (Amas Musical Theatre; Audelco Award Nominee); Taking A Chance On Love (York Theatre); The Conjure Man Dies (New Federal Theatre) and as one of the ninjas in Happy Sunshine Kung Fu Flower at the Zipper. Some of his favorite roles in regional theatre include Murray in DAVE at Arena Stage; James Farmer in The Parchman Hour at the Guthrie Theater; Donnie in the World Premiere of Colman Domingo's DOT at Actors Theatre of Louisville; Albert/Kevin in Clybourne Park at Portland Center Stage; Tonton Julian in Once On This Island (Paper Mill Playhouse); Dromio of Ephesus in The Boys from Syracuse (CENTERSTAGE); Nemur in Chasing Nicolette (Prince Music Theatre); Flick in Violet (Arden Theatre, Barrymore Award Nominee - Best Supporting Actor in a Musical), and Belize in Angels in America (Charlotte Repertory).
His full-length plays are Face Value (Henry Street Settlement Playwright’s Project Grant, 2000; Mill Mountain Theatre New Play Festival Finalist, 2003); (Not) Just a Day Like Any Other (written & performed with Christopher Borg, Jeffrey Cranor, and Eevin Hartsough; recipient, 2009 NY IT Award for Outstanding Ensemble); and A Raisin in the Salad: Black Plays for White People (Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference Semi-Finalist 2013), The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, or TRIPLE CONSCIOUSNESS, and You Are in An Open Field (written & performed with Eevin Hartsough, Marta Rainer, Carl Riehl, and Adam Smith); Night of the Living N-Word!! (FringeNYC 2016); AM I DEAD? The Untrue Narrative of Anatomical Lewis, The Slave (Commission from Flux Theatre Ensemble); BALBOA IS NOT DROWNING . His ten-minute plays include …in which Bishop Eddie Long loses a battle with his demons… (Sticky at the Bowery Poetry Club, JACK) and PORTAL, or Metaphorical Tricycle (The Fire This Time Festival), and Turn This Motha Out (with Prayer) (48 Hours in Harlem, inspired by Tyler Perry’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”). He is an alumnus of the New York Neo-Futurists, with whom he wrote and performed regularly in Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind (30 Plays in 60 Minutes) between 2007 and 2011. His work has been published by Commonplace Books (“What it Means To Be A Grown Up: The Complete and Definitive Answer”) and at www.indietheaternow.com. In 2010, He was named one of NYTheatre.com’s 15 people of the year, because of his “outstanding, noteworthy contributions to the New York theatre scene.”
As a director, Mr. Free is preparing to direct 8 world premiere plays for season 10 of The Fire This Time Festival; Topdog/Underdog at The University of Arkansas; The Last Five Years at Portland Stage; and GLORY! at Dixon Place. He assisted Martha Banta on Barbara’s Blue Kitchen in readings in Florida and NYC, and went on as Assistant Director in the show’s Off-Broadway run. Other significant credits: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill at Portland Stage; Renita Martin's Blue Fire on the Water at The Fresh Fruit Festival; Okello Kelo Sam's Forged in Fire at City Tech Theatreworks; 30 Plays in 60 Minutes as a guest director at Bloomsburg University, and 4 works by Nathan Yungerberg at the Bed-Stuy Playwright Series. He directed Adrienne Dawes’s brilliant Am I White at Blackboard Plays Reading Series, Tracey Conyer Lee’s Poor Posturing and The First Time for The Fire This Time Festival, and Michelle T. Johnson's Wiccans in the 'hood for the Midwinter Madness Festival. Passionate about the solo show format, he also developed and directed Elizabeth Stewart’s Racist is My Middle Name for the Estrogenius Festival (2010), and Tracey Conyer Lee’s Standing Up: Bathroom Talk and Other Stuff We Learn From Dad (FringeNYC 2010). Mr. Free has also directed several productions performed or written by young people, including several plays in Writopia Lab’s Bestival of New Plays, The Wiz, The Robber Bridegroom, Godspell, Barnum, The Big Bad Musical, Dear Edwina, A Year with Frog and Toad and Starlight Express.
Mr Free has also excelled as a producer and arts administrator. He is the former Education Director of Queens Theatre in the Park, bringing arts to underserved communities in Queens. He is also the former Producing Artistic Director of The Fire This Time Festival, a platform for early career playwrights of the African Diaspora, winning an Obie for his efforts in 2015. He maintains a collaboration with Frigid New York as curator of QUEERLY, a multi-arts LGBTQ+ festival. He has a long-standing collaboration with Eevin Hartsough and Katie Rosin, with whom he co-wrote and produced the web series Gemma & The Bear! and the upcoming BECKYS THROUGH HISTORY (MyCarl.org).
Once a regular contributor the NPR show “News & Notes,“ Mr. Free’s voice can now be heard on the popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale, as Kevin, the voice of Desert Bluffs. He was a singer on the World Premiere Recording of the musical Avenue X and is the narrator over 300 audio books, including Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries; Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom; the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Known World (AudioFile Magazine Earphones Award, 2004) and Say You’re One of Them (Oprah’s Book Club) and Rick Riordan’s The Kane Chronicles (Audie Award Finalist, Audiobook of the Year 2011).
He is also an asshole who watches and live-tweets political debates, Awards Shows and Network TV. Follow him on Twitter: @kevinrfree.
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