|Kimball Baden Allen|
|Born||February 22, 1982 (age 32)
|Known for||Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon
Be Happy Be Mormon
Kimball Allen (born February 22, 1982) is an American writer, journalist, playwright, and actor. He is the author of two autobiographical one-man plays: Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon (2012) and Be Happy Be Mormon (2014). The latter premiered at Theatre Row in Manhattan on September 24 and 27, 2014, as part of the United Solo Theatre Festival.
Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon
Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon is an autobiographical one-man play written and performed by Kimball Allen. In it, Allen reenacts the circumstances of his life that led him from a Mormon childhood through a life of addiction and, eventually, arrest.
Allen was born and grew up in Blackfoot, Idaho, a religious, conservative region, and he was one of eight children in an orthodox Mormon family. Even when he was small, Allen's strict Mormon parents were concerned about his unusual behavior and mannerisms, and his mother preemptively warned him, "Boys don't kiss boys."
At the age of 13, Allen was raped by an older man who befriended him at a mall. To cope with this trauma, which he could not tell anyone about, he surreptitiously turned to alcohol, and eventually drugs. He began living a double life – a devout Mormon on the surface, and underneath a teen struggling with his sexual orientation, the rape trauma, and his growing addictions.
Allen's family moved to Utah, the most heavily Mormon state in the U.S., when he was in his junior year of high school. Allen came out to his parents as gay when he was 19. His parents responded that they couldn't support him in that capacity and that they were repulsed by him. According to Allen, coming out as gay in the Mormon community was "committing social suicide", and he has also written that "I grew up gay in a loving, supportive Mormon family. When I came out, that love and support disappeared."
In adulthood, Allen's drug addictions spiraled further into cocaine, acid, and E, and eventually into a shopping addiction which led him to crave the high of larger and larger purchases. Given responsibility for a corporate credit card, he accidentally used it for a small expense of his own in 2010, and then started addictively embezzling the company's funds for luxuries via the card. The missing funds, totalling around $70,000, were noticed in 2011, and Allen landed in jail awaiting trial. He went through detox in the jail cell, and out of desperation began journal writing to make sense of how he ended up in that situation.
After admitting to his crimes and making reparations, coming to terms with his addictions, and realizing he needed help, Allen continued his journaling during his recovery process. A coherent narrative eventually took shape, and the self-examination eventually became a script, with the additional help of many hours viewing home videos of himself as a child.
A KC Stage reviewer of the play wrote, "I was skeptical about how engaging an hour long, one-man play ... could be. Fortunately, playwright, actor, and subject matter Kimball Allen possesses the assets of colorful material in his life story, a gift for story-telling, and a charisma that drew in the audience from beginning to end. ... The audience is swept up in his story while also discovering parallels in their own lives, places where they have tried to live up to standards and rules that are unrealistic or unhealthy."
LA Splash wrote that "Through his play Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon, fascinating Seattle playwright Kimball Allen has found unexpected relief in reenacting painful moments from his life and sharing their impact with his audience. ... He finds the comparisons to essayist and fellow non-fiction funny-man David Sedaris to be an honor but what he finds most rewarding is the connection he makes with the audience on stage." Allen has stated, "I want everyone to leave with a different perspective, but to understand that children are fragile, and when you raise a child there is a domino effect."
Ecumenica Journal called Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon "a mix of deeply personal confession and performance art". It went on to note that Allen's new theater work written after this play continues to explore "controversial topics and taboos within his former religion and his personal life".
Be Happy Be Mormon
Allen's second one-man play, the one-hour Be Happy Be Mormon, premiered at Theatre Row in Manhattan on September 24, 2014, as part of the United Solo Theatre Festival, and due to the sold-out premiere it had a second performance on September 27. It previewed on September 4 and 5, 2014 in Seattle. It is described as "A voyeuristic look into the childhood of a Bambi-loving vegetarian, ballet slipper-wearing, Diet Coke-drinking gay Mormon Boy Scout." The play relates his upbringing "as a fabulous black sheep" in a Mormon family he doesn't relate to, through "colorful narration, private home movies, songs, dance and the occasional acrobatics". Allen has stated that the inspiration for the show came when he read a lengthy letter his mother wrote before he was born, anticipating his birth and also his life and hoped-for achievements in the Mormon church – achievements which he never fulfilled because of his true nature.
In August 2014 Allen, who is an ex-Mormon, presented excerpts from and commentary on Be Happy Be Mormon, plus a question and answer session, at the 2014 Sunstone Symposium, an annual gathering of Mormons, scholars, and others interested in the diversity and richness of Mormon thought and experience.
Additional writings, performance, and activism
Allen has written an opinion piece for the New York Times. In the article, he talks about "the negative effects religion can have, particularly when the individual doesn't fit into the dogmatic mold", and the spiral of addictions his unresolved resentment and anger led him to. He also discusses the familial, social, community, and religious repercussions of his coming out, which forever affected his ability to interact freely with his Mormon community.
For Edge Seattle, Allen's articles have included interviews with Jewel and Brian McKnight. He has also reviewed Sister Act: The Musical, Other Desert Cities, An Evening with Brian McKnight, Jewel’s Greatest Hits Tour, and Bumbershoot.
In 2013, Allen taught workshops on "Discover Your Proud Voice Through Performance" at the annual conference of True Colors, a large non-profit conference which mentors LGBT youth. He also appears in the "No More Fear" video, a part of the "AIDS Is Going to Lose" PSA project.
Allen currently lives in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. In addition to his writing, performing, and gay activism, he is a media and PR representative specializing in arts and entertainment. He is also aquatics director of Seattle's Meredith Mathews East Madison YMCA.
- Kimball Allen – About. Facebook.
- Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon. BroadwayWorld.com. July 5, 2013.
- Lee, Steve. "Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon". LGBT Weekly. July 5, 2013
- Kimball Baden Allen – Bio. BroadwayWorld.com.
- Armour, Casandra. "Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon the Unexpected Play From Author Kimball Allen". LA Splash. October 9, 2012.
- Allen, Kimball. "When Love Falls Short". New York Times. January 9, 2013.
- Velazquez, Dagney. "Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon adds spice to KC Fringe Fest". KC Stage. July 27, 2012.
- Lumpp, Ray. "Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon: An Interview with Kimball Allen". All Treatment. November 15, 2012. Part 1.
- Allen, Kimball B. Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon. 2012. p. 14.
- Lumpp, Ray. "Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon: An Interview with Kimball Allen". All Treatment. November 15, 2012. Part 2.
- "Man turns himself in for embezzling in Palo Alto". ABC 7 News. KGO-TV. April 15, 2011.
- Koehn, Josh. "Embezzler Avoids Jail Time". San Jose Mercury News. May 2, 2011.
- "Meet the Press: Kimball Allen". New Queer on the Block. May 20, 2013.
- Caplan, Chris. "The Journey of a Gay Mormon Felon". In Hollywood Magazine. 2012.
- KC Fringe Festival Program, 2012. KCFringe.org.
- Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon. Oahu Fringe. 2012.
- Oahu Fringe Performing Arts Festival 2012 Programme. OahuFringe.com.
- Fringe Schedule Online. Oahu Fringe Performing Arts Festival. November 2012.
- "SECRETS OF A GAY MORMON FELON to Play San Diego Fringe Festival, 7/5-7". BroadwayWorld.com. June 12, 2013.
- Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon. San Diego Fringe Festival. July 2013.
- Beasley, Heather. "Interview with Kimball Allen". Ecumenica: Journal of Theatre and Performance. Fall 2013.
- "BE HAPPY BE MORMON Gets Second Performance at United Solo Fest". BroadwayWorld. September 10, 2014.
- Be Happy Be Mormon. United Solo Theatre Festival.
- "Kimball Allen to Debut One-Man Show BE HAPPY BE MORMON at NYC's United Solo Festival, 9/24; Gets Seattle Preview 9/4". BroadwayWorld. June 10, 2014.
- "Kimball B. Allen & Emma Hassett of Be Happy Be Mormon". Go See a Show!. September 26, 2014.
- Interview about Be Happy Be Mormon. RepRadio.org. September 15, 2014. (one hour audio)
- "Playwright Kimball B. Allen to Speak at Sunstone Symposium, 8/2". BroadwayWorld. July 30, 2014.
- Audio Files from the 2014 Salt Lake Symposium: Session 354: BE HAPPY, BE MORMON: A Best-Selling Off-Broadway Performance (Kimball Allen, Mitch Mayne). Sunstone Symposium. 2014. (Session 354; audio is below session title.)
- 2014 Sunstone Symposium Program. Sunstone Symposium. 2014. p. 41, #354.
- Allen, Kimball. "Jewel’s Greatest Hits Tour". Edge Seattle. June 7, 2013.
- Allen, Kimball. "An Evening with Brian McKnight". Edge Seattle. March 17, 2013.
- Allen, Kimball. "Sister Act: The Musical". Edge Seattle. September 6, 2013.
- Allen, Kimball. "Other Desert Cities". Edge Seattle. June 10, 2013
- Allen, Kimball. "Bumbershoot 2013". Edge Seattle. September 5, 2013.
- Allen, Kimball. "An interview with The Doors’ John Densmore". Capitol Hill Times. May 23, 2013.
- Allen, Kimball. "When a legendary porn star visits the Hill as a rum connoisseur". Capitol Hill Times. May 2, 2013.
- O, Kelly. "Ron Jeremy at Linda's Tavern". The Stranger. May 1, 2013.
- Allen, Kimball. "Seattle Fringe Festival: a call for artists and volunteers". Capitol Hill Times. April 25, 2013.
- Allen, Kimball. "Artist Trust makes it possible for artists to stay on the Hill". Capitol Hill Times. June 6, 2013.
- Allen, Kimball. "Trouble in pot paradise? Legalization is not out of the weeds yet". Capitol Hill Times. May 16, 2013.
- Allen, Kimball. "Raise funds, have fun, and ruffle some feathers: Three Dollar Bill Cinema’s Birdcage Annual Dinner and Auction". Capitol Hill Times. April 4, 2013.
- Allen, Kimball. "There is no drag in this show". Capitol Hill Times. February 14, 2013.
- True Colors 20. March 21–23, 2013.
- About True Colors. OurTrueColors.org.
- "No More Fear". AIDS Is Going to Lose.
- "Theatre Off Jackson Presents Kimball Allen in GHOST STORIES". BroadwayWorld. October 10, 2014.
- "Kimball Allen: The Voice of Reason". Revolutionary Gay Magazine. April 13, 2013.
- Kimball Allen Media & PR. KimballAllen.com.
- Meredith Mathews East Madison YMCA. Seattle YMCA.