Memories of Michael Martin
Kelly remembers an amazing artist, human being, and close friend.
Curious Theatre Branch’s production of 4:48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane
Photo taken by Jeff Bivens, 2011
Kelly was born on the Camp Lejeune Military Base in Jacksonville, North Carolina and lived in Wake Forest during her youngest years. At 6 years old, her mom packed up the brown and tan Plymouth Valiant and drove Kelly and her younger sister, Allison, to Raleigh for many tragic years of childhood. Although the majority of her family still lives in the Florida Panhandle, she has never called the Redneck Riviera home. She graduated from Broughton High School in 1983 and went to the 5 colleges before graduating in 1987 from East Carolina University with a BFA in Theater.
The years between 1987 and 1991 are somewhat of an alcoholic and un-medicated blur, but there were periods of living in Kentucky as well as London. In 1991 she landed in Chicago, where she would eventually settle. She spent her time acting in various Chicago theater productions, one of which was at Victory Gardens Theatre where she met her husband, Mike McKune, in 1992. They founded Sweetback Productions and produced, directed and acted in many successful shows. Sweetback was famous for late night cult movie parodies including, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Female Trouble, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Scarrie! The Musical!, and The Birds among others. Sweetback’s 2019 original production, Bipolar Bitch, featured an all bipolar cast and was a critical and box office hit. In 2020 Kelly, Mike, their son Max and Kelly’s mother, Mamaw, wrote and performed Refried, a play about a family performing on the streets of NOLA that explored multigenerational creativity and mental illness. During Covid, Kelly took out a loan, bought a truck and a travel trailer and spent the year pushing all of the limits. That will culminate in a one woman show, Dorothy and the 1978 Holiday Rambler Ramblette this July.
Kelly is incredibly grateful for her jobs, medication, family, rescue dogs, psychiatrist, therapist, general practitioner, support groups, theater friends, thrift stores, garage sales, ebay, frosty lipstick, and Lake Michigan to keep her stable(ish).
Love to all who are suffering, who are too far up, too far down or flying in between.
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