Details

Biography
Topics
Art & Politics
Body Image
Comedy
Internalized Oppression
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer
Performance
Poetry/Spoken Word
Storytelling
Violence Against Women
Women & Feminism

Kimberly Dark is a writer, professor, and raconteur, working to reveal the hidden architecture of everyday life one clever essay, poem, and story at a time. She uses humor, surprise and intimacy to help audiences discover their influences, and reclaim their power as social creators.

Kimberly Dark has written award-winning plays, taught and performed for a wide range of audiences in various countries over the past two decades. She is the author of the novel, The Daddies, a poetry collection, Love and Errors, and co-editor of the anthology, Ways of Being in Teaching. Her essays appear in popular online publications such as Everyday Feminism and Ravishly. Her poetry and prose are available in various literary and academic publications. Her forthcoming essay collection is about appearance privilege - Fat, Pretty and Soon to be Old.

Kimberly's storytelling performances and interactive lectures make big, complex ideas relatable at campuses, conferences, companies and anywhere people seek startling revelations and positive change. Beloved by diverse audiences, Kimberly crosses boundaries to show how we must engage all the wisdom and verve we have to create the most compassionate, fair and inclusive world we can.

Kimberly teaches in Sociology and Women's Studies at California State University, San Marcos. She also teaches writing and theatre courses for Cal State Summer Arts.

 

 

Testimonials

"Kimberly Dark has an uncanny way of making you think hard when you think you are only being entertained. Her keen insights seep into your questioning mind as you laugh, are captivated by stories, and are wowed by the intimacy she creates with her to-the-bone honesty.  
— Carol Plummer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Hawaii, Manoa

 

"Your shows reach students with messages that promote healthy sexuality, gender roles and body image, and contribute to creating an inclusive climate on campus where these difficult issues can be discussed in a comfortable, educational atmosphere...you made every member of the audience--no matter what their gender or sexual orientation--feel comfortable and valued as a participant in the discussion."
— Abby Ferber, Director of Women's Studies & the Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity and Inclusion, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs

"I thought this [Gender, Race and Money] was a fantastic event. What I most appreciated was how you made this all observable for students through activities and participation. In particular, the the exercise with the couple, which demonstrated the gendered dynamics surrounding reproductive labor within a heterosexual couple was fantastic. I also genuinely appreciated the discussion on income inequality, especially when you asked the crowd if people could name a TV show that focuses on a family from that income bracket... I saw that students were really engaged and learning a lot through your use of exercises and participation.”
— Dr. Cesar Rodriguez, Cal State San Marcos

"Kimberly Dark is a superior story teller... She expertly blends teaching with entertaining and takes the audience into her story circle where we are welcomed and challenged!"
— William J. Doan, PhD, Penn State University

"Our students absolutely loved Kimberly's Dark lecture on "Gender, Race and Money." Our audience ranged from students who had studied this issue in depth to others who were hearing this information for the first time, and they all came away with a deeper understanding of the implications of race and gender on people's income and wealth. They particularly appreciated the interactive nature of the presentation. If your university is looking for someone who will go beyond simply explaining graphs and throwing out overwhelming statistics, then consider Dark. She makes the material real and relatable to students, and she keeps them engaged with a series of interactive activities."
— Melissa Ooten, Associate Director, WILL Program, University of Richmond VA 

 "...an innovative and highly original approach to a host of potentially contentious social issues, which are rarely addressed outside the college classroom. Seamlessly blending comedy and high seriousness, Dark immediately puts her audience ease and thereby engages them in a profound and honest conversation..."
— Dr. Andrea Herrera, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs Ethnic Studies Department

"The magic...lies in Dark's ability to send her pithy insights, enveloped as they are in gentle humor, straight to our hearts, the place where hope resides."
— Dr. Linda Shaw, California State University, San Marcos

"Dark is an exquisite tour guide for this heartfelt journey into the construction of the self. Through performance poetry, this soul searching and sometimes comical journey leads the audience through the blurred distinctions of gender identity which are precariously balanced between clearly drawn cultural stereotypes."
Theatermania, Chicago

"Dark's powerful feminine stage presence and poetic style held the audience transfixed from start to finish as she spoke on gender..." 
— Nouveau Queer Montreal

"Dark doesn't shy away from provocative, incendiary statements, but don't expect a rant. Her shows, leavened with humor, are more likely to explore how small everyday moments can inform the arc of our lives."
— The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City UT
 

“Dark’s skill as a storyteller gets to your heart by exposing hers.”
High Plains Reader, Fargo ND

Speeches

Kimberly brings decades of experience of as a facilitator, performer/storyteller and teacher entertaining people with complex yet accessible messages about the human experience, about the body in culture and about the ways we co-create our culture. This experience means that her themes are available in a variety of ways for different venues, events and purposes.  Kimberly's performances, workshops, and lectures engage with themes that include:
• Gender :: Sexuality :: Body size/Shame :: Media Representations
• Gender, Race and Wealth/Income :: Understanding "the 1%"
• Beauty and Appearance Privilege :: Personal Sovereignty

By looking at the complexity in our lives, Kimberly teaches her audiences how to become the subject of their own stories, and how to co-create a better world. Tell us about your requirements, and Kimberly can tailor the right stage-performance, keynote presentation, and/or workshop for your venue and time-frame.

Things I Learned from Fat People on a Plane
This new show is about living fully in a world that hates fat. It’s about movement of all kinds – travel, exercise, romance and how fat folks are often expected to stay so still they disappear. In this performance, Kimberly Dark asks, “What’s a fat, sexy middle-aged babe have to do to get a ticket on the Respect Express (with a seatbelt big enough for safety)?”

Gender, Race and Money
The gap between rich and poor in the United has been widening and this is particularly pronounced in communities of color and for women. During this engaging and interactive lecture, Dark teaches participants about trends in the distribution of wealth in America and how those trends affect all Americans. We can no longer afford to ignore the history of privilege and poverty, if we hope to create a world in which that American dream of fairness and prosperity can become a reality. In this hugely participatory event, Dark leads participants through exercises to help them understand their own wealth, how it is influenced by the privilege of birth and circumstances and how those who lack wealth may not be as personally deficient as some believe. The content of this lecture is applicable to each person who uses money - and participants will leave with the tools for making connections with others to work toward a more just economy.

Becoming the Subject of Your Own Story - Rather Than the Object of Another's Gaze
This spoken word performance uses humor and first-person storytelling to uncover the various ways that women (and men) cheat the world of their fabulous human potential by focusing too often on appearance, sweetness and popularity, rather than living full lives. The show does not preach or instruct. Rather audience members discover their own empowerment through Kimberly's funny and personal tales. Dark also offers five suggestions that can help anyone develop greater personal sovereignty and start becoming a more vibrant participant in life.

Complicated Courtesies
Have you learned to embrace your own complexities? We all have them: aspects of our personalities that we don't bring out in every kind of company. Do you handle your various "selves" with panache and profundity? Or do you try to pretend you're only what you show a certain audience? Come explore how to become a courteous chimera — the kind of multi-faceted, fantastical creature that has many fearsome and fantastic features and yet, remains friendly to all. Who knows, if we learn to embrace our inner diversity — maybe loving the diversity in others won't be so hard
 

POPULAR WORKSHOPS:

Minding the Artist's Business
Theatre Departments, Performance Studies Departments and community venues all benefit from this workshop and discussion that illuminates the the specifics of marketing performance work. The world needs more art and the mystery surrounding celebrity and making a living as an artist are not helpful! Kimberly uses a variety of websites and print materials to discuss arts marketing and touring and how performance artists in different disciplines fund their work.​​​
    
Conflict Resolution
Maybe your boss just quoted an alt-right blogger in a meeting. Maybe your partner didn't do the laundry like they promised they would. Conflict resolution tools are for everyone - educators, managers, case workers, etc. - who wants to understand and better handle conflict. Learn how to reframe contentious, position-based statements into neutral language that helps everyone think more clearly and develop possible solutions.

Observation and Perception: Tools for Creation
This workshop will benefit anyone with a creative practice - whether it's writing, dancing, painting, or just being present in your community. The workshop will also prompt a more conscious experience of social life. You will practice techniques that help build community, assist in personal and community refocusing, and remind us just how powerfully we are creating the world, even as it creates us.
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Being a Brilliant Bystander
Have a positive influence on the way things are done in a meeting or group even if you are not the 'official' facilitator. By learning the skills of the "brilliant bystander," you can re-route conflict into useful discussion, restore fairness in power struggles, and encourage others to participate. Explore the reasons people stay silent, even though they know someone needs to speak up... and how to help.
    
Writing for Performance/Performance Poetry
During this course, individuals will learn about various forms of writing for performance, including the popular genre of slam poetry. Participants will write AND perform during the workshop; the focus in on writing for listeners, rather than readers. Throughout the day, participants will do "writing practice" on various themes that will yield material for a final brief performance in the afternoon. Participants will learn about the elements of performance story-telling (primarily rhythm, movement, repetition and story-progression). Through fun activities and a supportive setting, even those who have never read their writing aloud will have a positive experience. (Maximum: 20 participants)

Courage in Creative Writing: Exploring the First Person Narrative
Writing in the first person (using "I") can feel very vulnerable and self-revealing. This type of writing is sometimes called autobiography, memoir or autoethnography. This workshop explores the power of first person story-telling and participants will practice writing in the first person. Participants will learn the nuances of telling enough of the story - and knowing when to stop! Kimberly will also help participants understand how to use personal stories to write about broader themes. As she often says, "Every story is about me, but I am not the subject." Participants will leave the workshop with greater courage and skill at storytelling in the first person and will have started a few different stories for completion at home.

 

Media
Kimberly Dark Introduction
Gender, Race & Money
Things I Learned From Fat People on the Plane