SALT LAKE CITY — The Heart by Kaltin Kirby was a unique, refreshing, and ingenious production at this year’s Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival. Created from interviews done with people around Salt Lake, Kirby used different pieces of clothing to play each person and speak their words verbatim.
What first struck me about Kirby was how detailed his impersonation of each person was. He had specific posture, hand movements, twitches to use the clothing in a certain way (like rearranging a shawl or pulling on a scarf), and his face changed to match the natural expression to each person. The result was a performance that was fantastic in the way it introduced the audience to new people.
Though his playing real people who were very different from him and often female, I could still feel a reverence for his portrayals, despite the immediate humor in his being someone else. Kirby played each person very naturally, never over the top to get more laughs, and I felt a respect for each of these people whose faces I never saw but through Kirby’s acting. For example, as one character said, “There’s no such thing as race. We just put that on people,” I realized how labels separate people from one another when it could be so much more productive to forge connections.
Most of the stories Kirby told were focused on these people’s needs not being met, like one person felt like they didn’t matter and they needed to matter. Another felt like they needed to belong and didn’t receive that with their upbringing.
The interview questions were often played as audio between his costume and persona changes. The main question was “What does being alive mean to you?” Some respondents talked about when they felt worthless or unloved or rejected, and some about when they felt like they could grow and change. At the end, Kirby shared his own answer to his question and told a riveting narrative of when he finally felt alive at age 24. It was so touching, as I have had a similar experience, and I was so grateful to hear of his.
The Heart was an amazing show to experience. Kirby is extremely talented as an actor, and his show was fantastically creative. I would definitely see it again.