KL Brisby, Artistic Director

Mr. Brisby is a writer and producer with a broad background in adapting diverse narrative and performing arts traditions from around the world into new works, often featuring music.  Mr. Brisby has had more than two dozen scripts produced, with multiple projects commissioned and in various stages of development. Various adaptations and comic sketches have received broadcast, cablecast, and/or Internet distribution.

Mr. Brisby is current scheduled to perform RED, WHITE & BLACKLISTED in the San Diego Fringe Festival, July of 2014.  This is a one-man-show-with-guests, built around the life and writings of Lee Hays, legendary curmudgeon and folksinger who was a contemporary of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.  Also in the Fringe Festival is his script SALÓN, based on some extraordinary characters captured in the paintings of Paul Gauguin. Another of Mr. Brisby’s current projects is development of a new musical set during the Mexican Revolution, focused on the complementary roles of Pancho Villa and Eliliano Zapata.  Discussions with potential musical collaborators are ongoing.  In 2011/12 Mr. Brisby’s production THE MUSICAL PAUL GAUGUIN was presented around San Diego and through the San Diego Maritime Museum in conjunction with the museum’s exhibition of Gauguin art, the largest exhibit of 3-dimensional Gauguin work in the world, featuring holdings of the Kelton Foundation.  This show highlighted multicultural influences on this artist, and featured original compositions by Opetaia Foa’I of the band Te Vaka, Joaquin McWhinney of the band Big Mountain, and Francisco Astudillo of the band Tinku.  A previous project THE WEAVERS SONG was based on research into the roots and politics of the American folk song music through the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, from Woody Guthrie through the red-scare blacklisting of The Weavers.  The 1999 workshop project, with all live music and developed in consultation with Fred Hellerman, Sam Hinton, and other principals of the time, was being further revised in collaboration with legendary and Oscar-nominated producer/agent Harold Leventhal at the time of Leventhals’ death in 2005.  An early revision was presented in 2012 as RED, WHITE & BLACKLISTED at the Lyceum Theatre.  Other musical scripts with multiple productions include A FEW HOURS IN HELL, and CELEBRATIONS: AN AFRICAN ODYSSEY.

In 2012 Mr. Brisby authored the sit-com pilot SHAVE ICE, adapting material he previously wrote for the stage, and produced by Asian Story Theater and Great White Bear Productions.  The pilot stars Hmong actor Bee Vang (Gran Torino), along with Maelani Cazimero Wilcox of the much-revered Cazimero family of Hawaiian musicians. Mr. Brisby has also contributed writing to San Diego At Large (local CBS), All-Access Karaoke (local CW), and TMI Hollywood (Youtube channel).  He also authored three webisodes for SALAD, an ahead-of-its-time net-com from the last millennium and now (mercifully) vanished.

Mr. Brisby has a strong presence in theater for young audiences (TYA).  In addition to authoring and directing an Educational Tour (#11) for the Old Globe Theatre, he was Artistic Director for West Coast operations of the National Theatre for Children, launching touring productions from California to the Midwest.  Brisby also served as a founder and the Artistic Director for Asian Story Theater, producing shows in San Diego that also toured to Los Angeles (Wadsworth Theatre) and San Francisco (Palace of Fine Arts). This company’s shows all incorporate collaborative partnerships in developing shows, such as a musical score for KAHUA by Grammy-winning George Kahumoku, the Balinese Dalang and the Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble in SHAVE ICE, and music and choreography by Ramaa Bharadvaj for HANUMAN & THE MONKEY KING.  (Many others.)  Other TYA projects include directing family-friendly productions for Magic Machine Children’s Repertory Theater, Theater Arts for Youth, San Diego Junior Theater, San Diego Black Ensemble Theater, CAT Tours, and the San Diego Zoo.  More than one million kids have seen at least one of his shows.

In theater for more general audiences, Brisby was one third of a troika founding (and literally constructing) the Marquis Gallery Theater, launching AirStage Radio Theater, Pacific Asian Actors’ Ensemble, San Diego Latino Theater Company, San Diego Theater for the Deaf, and Playwrights’ Workshop.  Mr. Brisby has directed shows for the Bowery Theater, Coronado Playhouse, Masque, and San Diego Asian American Repertory Theatre.

Brisby originally came to theater as an actor, with more than 100 roles in several dozen theaters before switching his emphasis to writing and directing. (One that got away: cast as Pozzo and in rehearsal for WAITING FOR GODOT, under direction of Alan Schneider at the time of legendary director’s accidental death.)  He also plays and teaches Hawaiian Slack Key guitar, performing at multiple Pacific Island Festivals with dance troupes, as well as numerous weddings and a few recordings.  Born in Omaha, Nebraska, his family alternated between there and a farm in Missouri until the family relocated to the Mariana Islands in the far western Pacific.  Kent grew up on various Micronesian Island groups, with some time in Hawaii, before returning to the states.  He graduated from Whitman College in the Pacific Northwest before settling in San Diego, first as a performer and director with the San Diego Street Theater.