Drama Teacher, and Creative Writer Khalia S. Parker Preyer, also known as “K (P) 2”, realized that she was walking in her divine purpose during the first curtain call and a standing ovation of her play, For the Love of Mother at 16. She is highly admired, adored, and respected for her gifts and talents as she used the medium of theatre to provide insight into a black family with communication obstacles and a need for forgiveness using the scripture: `Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. ‘ (Prov. 22:6.)
As the founder and Executive Director of KP2 Theatre Foundation, Incorporated and KP2 Writes, LLC she tirelessly advocates for and believes in the power of the arts to mesmerize, challenge, and improve the world. Khalia’s mission is to create an educational theatre experience using culturally relevant materials that fosters the love of the arts, inspire creativity, and encourage youth and young adults to be model citizens and ambitious artist.
In her book, Love Beyond the Bars, Khalia uses the traumatic impact of growing up with an incarcerated parent to mentor and support children of incarcerated parents. Love Beyond the Bars assures parents and children that there is life beyond the uncomfortable experience of parental incarceration. It also teaches children about the timeless and unconditional love of a parent. She desires this book to be used as a tool and resource for her sons as they grow to know and love an incarcerated grandparent. Her book Identically Different: It’s an Oxymoron fulfills her commitment to providing children with characters that positively represent them, an issue she believes staggers fluency and interest in reading. In her third book, You Don’t Have the Right to Remain Silent: How to Turn Your Story into a Play, she provides the steps to gain the confidence to write, publish, and produce a play.
What would your reply be if someone asked who Khalia S. Parker Preyer is?
Khalia: Sheesh, you are trying to stump me. We are fresh into the interview, and you are asking me one of the most challenging questions with the most complex answer. Let me take away titles like a child of God, playwright, author, educator, and coach. I want to be known as what my aunt said I was “a fragile vessel.” I want people to see me as an ever-changing work of art, trying hard to wrestle that ambitious spirit inside of me to be the best me.
With your latest book, You Don’t Have the Right to Remain Silent: How to Turn Your Story into a Play, you provided readers with the steps to gain the confidence to write, publish, and produce a play. How did you gain your confidence? Describe that moment for us.
Khalia: I gained the confidence to tell my story when I realized my gift was bigger than me. That was in 2002. I was a sophomore in high school and a youth leader in my church. I struggled for a long time with telling a few aspects of my story because I knew that other people in my life didn’t want me to share it. I’m from the “what goes on in my house, stays in my house generation.” In my opinion, not telling my story is emotional suicide. If I keep my stage plays from my audience, I am causing them undue stress. I have the solution to their pain and the answer to something keeping them up at night. I don’t want to be responsible for robbing them of that healing.
How do you balance your family life and career? Are their challenges at times? If so, how do you overcome those moments?
Khalia: I don’t balance it all, and I don’t even try most of the time. Mental health is wealth. Being a wife, mom (of twins), educator, and entrepreneur is challenging. I write stuff on the calendar, cross it out, and then lose the calendar. I have good news, though; you can always start over. I work hard, doing the best that I can do. What I can’t do (or don’t want to do), I hire someone to do. The best news is it gets better every day. The lesson is: don’t be so hard on yourself; you have a whole world to do that.
KP2 Theatre Ensemble, LLC is now KP2 Writes, LLC. What went into the name change/rebranding?
Khalia: So um, long story. I will say this, I am the Executive Director of a non-profit, KP2 Theatre Foundation, and I am out of control. The KP2 Theatre Ensemble, LLC began with nine student actors in mind (the day I got fired and rehired, but that’s for another day). It came to me before the non-profit was established. We wanted a safe space to share our work with our community and wanted to have an authentic learning experience. We also didn’t want our work censored as the school’s curriculum. The nonprofit has stepped in, stepped up, and taken over the ensemble through the years. They provide us with funding to produce plays, sponsorship, and scholarships to provide educational theatre to children and youth. Not only does KP2 Foundation, Inc provide educational theater, but we also foster a respect for the arts in our community that last a lifetime. Our students make an impact, and so do our plays.
In short, the non-profit rescued the ensemble, and then I birthed K(P)2 Writes, LLC. I didn’t have to worry about my “theatre babies” anymore. Due to my experience in the public school setting, I know we teachers often look for “ approved plays.” The challenge is that students like to see characters that look like them and speak like them and the obstacles they face. Yet, some schools aren’t for that. There is a shortage of plays written for us and by us, as WEB Dubois suggested. I wanted to fill that gap, yet I also needed to write plays that were real and able to reach my target audience. I wrote and produced stage plays not just for schools but for my community. I know that when I help my community, I can, little by little, impact the world. So here I am, using the power of the theater one play at a time. Little old entrepreneur I, the founder of KP2 Writes, LLC helping future playwrights.
As a playwright coach, what tools do you provide clients that will take them to the next level?
Khalia: Implementation starts with the mind. I first take my clients through a reset. I remind them how important it is for them to tell their story. I give actionable steps to help someone else. They’ll write a stage play in record time.
What else would you like our readers to know about you, what you’re working on, and the services you provide now?
Khalia: I want them to know how powerful the arts are and how the arts have changed our lives. I like the readers to understand that the arts are free, but you must invest in them. It’s a small world that should be on the top of the list of programs. I love it; I believe in the arts.
Connect on Facebook and Instagram: @KP2Writes
Photo Credit: Livi Blue Photography