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Storyteller receives A.P. Anderson Award

Kevin Kling received the 2009 A.P. Anderson Award.

The Anderson Center has Kevin Kling as the 2009 A.P. Anderson Award recipient.

Kling is one of the most beloved and celebrated voices of the American Heartland, spokesmen said.

"Best known for his brilliantly comic storytelling commentaries on National Public Radio's 'All Things Considered' and for such stage plays as 'Tales from the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log,' he has been plunging audiences into his wonderfully offbeat world of animated stories for nearly two decades."

A native of Osseo, Minn., Kling graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter with a bachelor's degree in theater in 1979.

"In the 1990s, beginning with his plays, '21A' and 'Fear and Loving in Minneapolis,' his reputation as a fresh, groundbreaking voice in the performance world began to spread," Anderson Center officials said.

A member of the Playwright's Center in Minneapolis, he is the recipient of numerous honors, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Bush Foundation Artist Fellowships, two McKnight Foundation Fellowships, the 1986 Heideman Best Short Play Award for "21A," and the 1993 Whiting Literary Award.

Kling has performed his plays all over the world, including venues in Sweden, Australia, Scotland, the Czech Republic - and the Sheldon Theatre in Red Wing.

His autobiographical play, "Home and Away," has been seen in theaters throughout the United States - the Seattle Rep Theatre, the Jungle Theater, The Spoleto Festival, and the HBO Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo., among others.

His adaptation of the children's book "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse" has been performed in major theaters across the country.

Other plays such as "Lloyd's Prayer," "The Education of Walter Kauffman" and "The Seven Dwarfs" are repeatedly performed at respected venues nationwide.

"One can rightfully say that not a day goes by that a play by Kevin Kling is not being enjoyed by an audience somewhere in the world," officials said.

His recently published collection of short stories, "The Dog Says How," along with his plays, festival appearances, nationally distributed disc recordings, and popular NPR commentaries "have elevated him from local treasure to one of our nation's most recognized artists," according to the Anderson Center.

In the words of Joe Dowling, artistic director of the Guthrie Theater and the 1999 A.P. Anderson Award recipient, "Kevin has the ability to be genuinely funny, but he can also move you to tears. He's profound in the way he combines a natural genius sense of observation and humor with a real understanding of what it is to struggle, as he's had to do all his life."