Special Photo Curt Cloninger, of Duluth, is a solo actor who travels the nation performing at churches, conventions and seminars presents life lessons through the eyes of Jesus and other characters.
DULUTH -- Curt Cloninger can't remember the last time he had a "real job." Neither can his family.
"It's all my wife has ever known me doing, it's all my kids have ever known me doing," the Duluth resident said. "So they don't have a point of comparison, looking at me asking, 'Dad, remember when you had a real job? You should get a real job.'"
Then how does he pay the bills, you ask? Cloninger is a solo actor who travels the nation performing his plays at conventions, churches and retreats, presenting life lessons through the eyes of a Christian.
"I'm not a preacher, I just tell stories in character and people remember that," he said.
For the past 30 years, Cloninger has been writing plays in everyday language trying to give a fresh view on life.
"In writing, I try to think of the big questions people are asking about life and I try to address those," he said.
He has a large portfolio of shows for almost any occasion. In "Jesus Talk," he portrays Jesus who has walked into a church and just started talking to the congregation. "Witnesses" follows eight characters with different ideas about God. He also has a Christmas show, health care performance, monologue between heaven and hell -- and that's just the beginning.
This actor has multiple shorter monologues and just finished production on a movie he created with his son, Kappel, called "Tandem."
On stage, you won't find Cloninger wearing a sheet and sandals reciting verses from the Bible. He's in jeans and a T-shirt, usually playing multiple characters.
"Obviously since I'm Christian, I'm looking at it from a Christian perspective, but to call it 'religious' or 'Christian' theater is not a great description," he said. "My subject matter is life and I'm looking at it at a Christian perspective. When a lot of people think of Christian theater, they think of a guy in a long robe, wearing a wig, using stilted language and doing some cheesy dialogue telling you something you knew already."
Since the actor is on the road 80 to 100 nights a year, he keeps his sets plain and to the point.
"My rule for writing a show is that it's got to fit in my suitcase," Cloninger said with a laugh. "I don't travel with sets or big costumes. I keep things real simple."
Although Cloninger has lived in Duluth for two decades, he doesn't perform often in metro Atlanta.
"Delta Airlines and I are on pretty good terms. I'm about to hit 2 million miles on Delta. I travel a lot in the air, but I don't perform that much in Atlanta, which I would love to do," he said. "It's really fun to perform and get in my car to go home instead of a plane to fly cross country. I can't tell you how many times I've flown to California, performed, got back to my hotel room at 1 a.m., woken up at 4 in the morning to catch a 7 o'clock flight back home. I've done that more times than I'd like to think about."
No matter if he's in front of thousands of people in an arena or four people in a living room, Cloninger wants people to walk away with a new outlook about God.
"(I want them) to walk away with the reality and awareness of the realness of God and that God wanted to be involved in the nitty-gritty of people's lives," he said. "He has hope for them. If that happens, then I'm happy."
For more information about Cloninger, his schedule and bookings, visit curtcloninger.com.