Storyteller bios

On June 12, you’ll get to see six storytellers talk about a time that fits the theme, “…But I didn’t.”

Kevin D'AmbrosioKevin D’Ambrosio is a motivational speaker, storyteller, and actor. He helped create a theatre games program for adults with developmental disabilities at Piven Theatre. He is a former co-producer of Second City Training Center’s Sunday Morning Stories and one of The Moth StorySLAM winners. Kevin would like to thank Jill for the opportunity to perform at Story Sessions. Find out more info about his pursuits at kevindambrosio.com or give him a shout at @kdaspeaker.

KimberlyDuncanKimberly Duncan is an actor, dancer, singer, writer and most importantly, a Mom. She’s a Belgian girl raised in Detroit, but thanks to her highly useful Bachelors degree in Theatre and Dance, she has appeared in numerous productions across this great land of ours; from A Chorus Line, Forbidden Broadway, Always, Patsy Cline, Forbidden Hollywood, Motherhood, the Musical, to the long running, highly successful and all too relatable show, Menopause, the Musical. Kimberly lives in Oak Park with her husband and their sweet, yet sassy, daughter, Isobel, who will be attending Ithaca College in the fall to pursue her own theatrical career. Kimberly has been fortunate enough to be apart of story telling events all around the Chicagoland area; such as, Filet of Solo Story Telling Festival, Voicebox, Homewood Stories, Miss Spoken and Louder Than A Mom. Kimberly is thrilled to be making her Chicago Story Sessions debut.

AdaChengAda Cheng is a professor turned storyteller, improviser, and stand up comedian. She is The Moth story slam winner. She has done storytelling at The Moth, Dead of the Cool, Seven Deadly Sins, Loose Chicks, In Any Language. and For Those Who Can’t. Since she quit her university job, she has been enjoying her new adventures in life and she has never embraced life more wholeheartedly than ever.

ScottWhitehairScott Whitehair is the producer and host of This Much Is True, one of the city’s longest running personal narrative series, creator of Story Lab Chicago, which has put nearly four hundred new tellers on stage since 2011, and director of Do Not Submit, a citywide grassroots network of storytelling open mics. He has performed all over the world, teaches a perpetually sold out monthly class, and is on the board of directors for The National Storytelling Network. when he’s not teaching, producing, or telling, he is probably grilling out, sitting in a sauna, or riding his bike.

JimSweeneyJames Sweeney is a writer making his home in leafy Berwyn, City of the Future, where he enjoys writing stories and mowing his lawn.   Sometimes he writes about mowing his lawn.  He is thrilled to be back telling a story at Story Sessions.

 
 
 
KellyRichmondPopeKelly Richmond Pope is an Associate Professor in the School of Accountancy and MIS at DePaul University in Chicago, IL and founder of Helios Digital Learning, Inc. She received her doctorate in accounting from Virginia Tech and she is a licensed certified public accountant. She worked in the forensic practice at KPMG, LLP on anti-money laundering engagements, insurance fraud investigations, and fraud risk management projects. 
                          
Kelly is a recognized expert in the forensic accounting field and has conducted forensic accounting seminars around the world for universities, corporations and governmental entities including the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and the Securities Commission Malaysia. 

Her research has been published in the Behavioral Research in Accounting, Auditing: A Journal of Theory & Practice, Journal of Business Ethics, CPA Journal and WebCPA. She co-authored A.B.C.’s of Behavioral Forensics: Using Psychology to Prevent, Detect and Deter Fraud published by John Wiley & Sons. Additionally, she writes for Forbes.com and has published articles in The Daily Beast, The Washington Post and PBS Need To Know.    
 
Kelly is the creator and executive producer of the award winning educational white-collar crime documentary Crossing the Line: Ordinary People Committing Extraordinary Crime. Her in-process documentary, All the Queen’s Horses which chronicles the largest municipal fraud in U.S. history, was selected to participate in the Tribeca Film Institute Industry Market forum in 2016. She was also selected by the TED Ed team to develop a teaching lesson on “How People Rationalize Fraud” which can be found on the TED Ed website.
 
Kelly is a board member of the Illinois CPA Society, a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and serves of the finance committee for Mercy Hospital. Additionally, she serves on the Governing Council of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for a 3-year term.

RivaLehrerRiva Lehrer is an artist and writer whose work focuses on issues of physical identity and the socially challenged body. She is best known for representations of people who come from stigmatized populations, especially those with impairments, and people whose sexuality or gender identity have been marginalized.

Her work has been seen in venues including the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian, the United Nations in New York, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, the Arnot Museum, the Frye Museum, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the State of Illinois Museum.

She has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships in recognition of her work in the field of Disability Culture. Her writing has been included in publications including Criptiques, edited by Caitlin Wood; Sex and Disability, edited by Robert McRuer and Anna Mollow; TriQuarterly, the literary journal of Northwestern University; Lesbian Art in America, Harmony Hammond; and The Feminist Studies Journal.

Lehrer’s work has been featured in documentaries including The Paper Mirror (2012) by Charissa King-O’Brien, which traces her collaboration with graphic novelist Alison Bechdel.

Riva Lehrer is currently instructor in Medical Humanities at Northwestern University.
 


On Mothers Day, May 8, these lovely storytellers graced the City Winery stage with tales about moms.

EileenEileen Dougharty believes stories are more than entertainment, that they play an important part in social change. She recently contributed to Jill Howe’s TEDx talk about the power of sharing your secrets. She has been published in Reader’s Digest, Thread, and Story Club Magazine and she is thrilled to have another opportunity be part of Story Sessions.
 

JeremyJeremy Owens is the creator, producer and host of You’re Being Ridiculous. He voted for Hillary Clinton, and he can’t wait to do it again in November.
 
 
 
 

BethBeth Horner’s work has been called heartfelt, truthful and “akin to great stand-up comedy”. Her large repertoire ranges from a four-minute break-neck speed, tongue-twisting tour-de-force take-off on Edgar Allan Poe to a two-hour story of a young female soldier killed fighting in Iraq. Her signature stories, however, are those out of her own life. A recipient of the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence Oracle Award and popular on the national storytelling festival circuit, Beth has performed at The International Art of Storytelling Festival, multiple times at the National Storytelling Festival, and on Live From National Geographic. She recently returned from a performance tour of Taiwan. Beth is also dedicated to teaching the art of storytelling and is sought after as a storytelling and writing coach. She conducted a series of storytelling workshops for NASA Astrobiologists, served as narrative consultant for NASA/Johnson Space Center’s StoryMining Project, and has spoken at the annual conferences of the National Council of Teachers of English, the American Library Association and the Annual Conference of Agencies and Organizations Serving Troubled Youth. She has produced eight recordings of her own work and a six-part storytelling series for radio.

Beth is celebrating her 33th year of making her living as a touring storyteller, is excited to be a part of Story Sessions and is looking forward to performing a story about one of her favorite subjects: her Mother!

ArchyArchy Jamjun is a writer and storyteller from Chicago. In 2014 he won the Chicago’s Biggest Liar Contest and last year, he won The Moth Grandslam. He loves Chicago because there’s always something to eat or see. He loves his mother because she raised him to do so. Archy is currently an MFA student at Roosevelt University where he is working on a link collection of short stories.

Natasha TsoutsourisNatasha Tsoutsouris is a writer and performer. She has told stories all over the city and is excited about making her third appearance with Story Sessions.
 
 
 
 

PhilipPhilip Dawkins is a Chicago playwright whose plays have been produced all over the country and the world. His critically acclaimed works include Charm (Northlight Theatre) and Miss Marx: Or The Involuntary Effect of Living (Strawdog Theatre), which won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work, as well as The Homosexuals (About Face Theater) and Failure: A Love Story (Victory Gardens Theater), both of which received Joseph Jefferson Nominations for New Work. His play, Le Switch, just concluded a sold-out run with About Face Theatre, where he is an Artistic Associate. He is also an Ensemble Playwright at Victory Gardens. Philip teaches playwriting at Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, his alma mater, and through the Victory Gardens ACCESS Program for writers with disabilities. Most of his plays, including his plays for young performers, are available through Playscripts, Inc. and Dramatic Publishing.

Philip Dawkins’s plays include Le Switch (About Face Theatre), Charm (Northlight Theatre), Miss Marx: Or The Involuntary Effect of Living (Strawdog Theatre; Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work), The Homosexuals (About Face Theater), and Failure: A Love Story (Victory Gardens Theater). He teaches playwriting at Northwest University, Loyola University Chicago, and through the Victory Gardens ACCESS Program.


On February 7, we got our love on with this delicious line up of storytellers:

Adrienne GunnAdrienne Gunn is a writer, editor, and humorist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared in various literary journals including McSweeney’s, PANK, TriQuarterly, Five [Quarterly], Story Club Magazine, and Otis Nebula, and she has served both as Managing Editor and as Fiction Editor of TriQuarterly, the literary magazine of Northwestern University. Adrienne received a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Northwestern University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon.

Adrienne’s studied comedy at the world-famous Second City and with the all-female Feminine Comique, and regularly performs stand up and storytelling throughout Chicago. Adrienne’s first one woman show, Mother of the Year!, will debut this April at Stage 773 in Chicago.

Philip Earl JohnsonPhilip Earl Johnson is an actor and entertainer who has found the love of storytelling. As an actor he has been seen on television and film and on stage, most recently as Jean Shepard, the narrator in A CHRISTMAS STORY: The Musical at The Paramount Theater and has been seen at Famous Door, The Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Court, Writers, American theatre Company as well as 10 seasons at The Illinois Shakespeare Festival theatres. His one man show MooNiE the Magnif’Cent has had over 6500 performances around the country and the world. It is a European style clowning act involving juggling, ropewalking, fire and physical stunts. He is excited to be able to stand still and speak from his heart. Thanks to Scott Whitehair, This Much Is True and Story Sessions for the opportunity to do so.

Ike HolterIke Holter’s work has been produced at The Steppenwolf Garage, A Red Orchid, The New Colony and The Inconvenience, where he is a founding member and resident writer. He’s received fellowships and commissions from The Goodman Theater, The Kennedy Center and The Playwrights Center. His show “Hit The Wall” played at Steppenwolf Garage and Off-Broadway at The Barrow Street Theater in New York. Jackalope Theater premiered “Exit Strategy”, which played to sold-out houses and transferred to Michigan at 3oaks Theater; it is being produced at Philadelphia Stages and will transfer Off Broadway to Primary Stages this spring. He was named the “Chicagoan of the Year in Theater 2014” by The Chicago Tribune, and his monologues have been published in The New Yorker and several editions of Applause Books. Holter was recently named one of Victory Gardens newest ensemble playwrights, and preforms live lit with Salonathon and Paper Machete.

Barrie ColeBarrie Cole has a beautiful, strange life and is thrilled to be a part of Story Sessions once again. She has written numerous essays, stories, monologues, and plays and plans to keep doing so until she is dead. Her newest play, “Meaning Is Tricky” is currently playing at the Prop Theatre as part of the Rhinoceros Theatre Festival. It runs on Fridays at 7pm through February. It is directed by multiple-time collaborator Jen Moniz and stars the brilliant and formidable Diana Slickman and Darren Stephens.

Jeremy SchaeferBy day Jeremy Schaefer works with Urban Gateways to bring his original storytelling assemblies to enthusiastic audiences of K-5 students. He also serves as the associate artistic director of Imagination Theater. In the evenings he teaches and improvises with Laugh Out Loud Theater, Chicago Improv Productions, and the Improv Playhouse. He has brought solo shows to the IndyFringe Festival, and shared stories at a number of area shows and venues, including This Much Is True, The Acorn, You’re Being Ridiculous, Chicago Solo Theatre, Guts n’ Glory, Serving The Sentence, Is This A Thing?, and more. This March he will debut his latest solo show as part of The Side Project Theatre’s 4th Annual Festival of Storytelling.

Amanda Claire BuckleyAmanda Claire Buckley is a troubadour. Her storytelling and songwriting has taken her across the country and abroad. She’s performed across Chicago and was featured at the CrisisArt Festival in Italy and the Capital Fringe Festival in DC. The National Storytelling Networked named her a Next Generation Scholarship Winner in 2015. For more on Amanda, check out AmandaClaireBuckley.com.

James NearyJames Neary is an award-winning singer-songwriter from the Chicagoland area. His blues-inspired vocals and soaring falsetto serve as perfect complements to his close-to-the-chest songwriting. James was the winner of the Acorn Theater’s very first singer-songwriter contest in 2013 with his song “Cutting Teeth”. The album that followed, appropriately titled “2013”, has been met with widespread praise. Since then, James has gone on to open for the likes of Katie Todd, Andrew Salgado, and Matt Schofield, and has even sang with Muse on-stage. His is a passionate, electrifying performance that you won’t want to miss!


Story Sessions was thrilled to be participate in the Fillet of Solo Festival for a third year. January 30th was our final performance in the festival, featuring storytellers, Catherine Savage, Nestor Gomez, Andi Nelson and Molly Harris.

CatharineSavageCatharine Savage is a writer, actor, improviser, and east coast transplant. She has told stories with Loose Chicks, Is This a Thing?, and You’re Being Ridiculous. Catharine is an ensemble member at Under the Gun Theater, a member of the ComedySportz house team, Atomic, and a member of 99 Problemz, Chicago’s improvised 90s sitcom, which can be seen at The Playground Theater the last Sunday of every month at 6pm. And coming this May, you can see her sharing more stories in The Arrow with The Neo-Futurists.

Nestor GomezNestor Gomez was born in Guatemala and has lived in Chicago for the last twenty something years of his life. He is a 10-time Moth Slam winner and storyteller, self-taught poet and writer. Feel free to check out his website Nestorgomezstoryteller.com.
 
 

Andi NelsonAndi Nelson works with science and story. When not engaging with NASA scientists and educators, she is trying to make something beautiful out of nothing special, navigating the waters of having a daughter away at college (who is also her magnum opus), and looking at the world with new eyes.
 

MollyHarrisMolly Harris is a riddle, inside an enigma, wrapped in feminine wiles, nestled in a soft, human skin suit with a blonde wig on top. She arrived to Chicago from the wild cornfields of Indiana and spends most of her time talking about science fiction and glitter and puns.
 
 


Our featured performers for January 23 were Deborah Siegel, Carla de Jesus Jerez, Brittany Meyer, Kimberly Duncan and Maureen Muldoon.

DeborahSiegelDeborah Siegel is the author of Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild (Palgrave), co-editor of the literary anthology Only Child (Random House), founder of the group blog Girl w/Pen and co-founder of She Writes, the largest online community for women who write. A PhD in English and American Literature, she is a Visiting Scholar in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Northwestern University and a Senior Facilitator with The OpEd Project. Her work has appeared in venues including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, CNN.com, The Forward, Slate, The Huffington Post, The American Prospect, Ms., More, and Psychology Today, in multiple anthologies, and on her blogs. She has been featured on The Today Show and at TEDx. Deborah is currently engaged in a multimedia experiment in thinking aloud, and in community, about the gendering of early childhood, which encompasses illustrated essays, a Pinterest board (Tots in Genderland), and more. When not writing about the unfinished business of feminism or her young boy/girl twins, she serves as a public voice and thought leadership coach, and helps amplify women’s voices in public spaces. Visit her at deborahsiegelphd.com.

CarlaJerezCarla de Jesus Jerez is a recent Chicago transplant hailing from the bone-dry highways of The Everglades. By day, she’s a freelance blogger for the software industry, and by night, she’s a freelance blogger for almost anyone else.
 
 

BrittanyMeyerEscaping Florida only three years ago, Brittany Meyer moved to Chicago in hopes of finding a career and romance. After giving up on that, she turned her attention to stand up comedy and a cat named Lil’ Rue McClanahan. Brittany has written for ‘The Women in Comedy Festival,’ Miss Spoken, and her own office newsletter that she mostly keep to herself. You can see her every month as producer and host of ‘Strip Joker,’ a new, body positive, comedy showcase at Gorilla Tango Theatre; Tickets available now for February 11th, March 10th and April 14th through GTT’s website. See everything Brittany does on her website, brittanymeyerdoesthat.com.

KimberlyDuncanKimberly Duncan is an actor, dancer, singer and writer. She’s a Belgian girl raised in Detroit. Thanks to her highly useful Bachelors degree in Theatre and Dance, she has appeared in shows across this great land of ours, but her proudest achievement, by far, is her sweet, sassy, and self-sufficient daughter, Isobel. Her stories have been heard all around the Chicago, at such events as Voicebox, Louder Than A Mother and Miss Spoken. She also co-hosts, Do Not Submit, in Brookfield, with her fabulous story telling friend, Maureen Muldoon. Kimberly is honored and thrilled to be one of the voices at this year’s, Fillet of Solo.

Maureen Muldoon is a storyteller, playwright, author, wife and mom. She has created and crafted characters and stories for stage, TV and film. Her stories have been featured in Story Lab, Lit Up, Booby Trap, The Sun, Story, Actors Access, and Do Not Submit. She is the creator of Voice Box a monthly event that weaves story and song, and Spiritual Speakeasy a Sunday morning conversation that she host, on all things Divine.


Featured performers for the January 16 Fillet of Solo show were Debbi Welch, Kevin D’Ambrosio, Lisa Maggiore and David Barish.

01_16_DebbiDebbi Welch is a storyteller and writer. She’s shared her stories locally at Story Sessions, Is This a Thing?, Serving the Sentence, This Much is True, Essay Fiesta, Cabaret on the Lake and Chicago Solo Theatre. Debbi is writing a middle grade novel about a fifth-grade girl with asthma who loves science, especially meteorology. She’s the immediate past president of Young Chicago Authors, a 23 year old non-profit which offers free weekly programming, workshops and in-school residencies throughout Chicagoland. It’s also the home of Louder Than a Bomb, the largest youth poetry festival in the world.

01_16_KevinKevin D’Ambrosio is a motivational speaker, storyteller, and stand-up comedian. Originally from Peabody, MA, he moved to Chicago near the turn of the century to follow artistic interests at iO Chicago, Annoyance Productions, and The Artistic Home. Shortly thereafter he helped establish the Piven Empowerment Enrichment Program for adults with developmental disabilities at the Piven Theatre in Evanston. As a storyteller Kevin has performed at Here, Chicago, The Stoop, This Much Is True, Homewood Stories, Tenx9, Do Not Submit, and The Moth. He is a co-host and co-producer of Second City Training Center’s storytelling show, Sunday Morning Stories, and was featured at The Moth GrandSLAM, this past summer. Find out more info about his pursuits at kevindambrosio.com and follow him at @dambro101.

01_16_LisaLisa Maggiore is the author of a children’s picture book, Ava the Monster Slayer: A Warrior Who Wears Glasses, a short story, Pinterest Saved My Marriage, and a novel, Home from Within. Lisa is currently working on other writing projects and practicing her storytelling skills during Live Lit performances. Lisa resides in Chicago, where she grew up, with her husband and four children. For the past 20 years, she was a social worker, which has helped in her writing about tragedy and love.

01_16_DavidDavid Barish was in the audience for Lifeline’s first show in 1983. He is thrilled to be on the stage at Lifeline telling his story. He has taken the stage as a featured performer for Story Sessions, Story Club, Serving the Sentence, That’s all She Wrote, Is this a Thing?, Essay Fiesta, Oy Chicago’s These are not your Zayde’s Stories, Stories from the House of Truth, Thread, and Side Project’s Festival of Storytelling. He has also been published twice in Story Club Magazine.


On October 18, six storytellers shared their tales on the theme, “Collide.” Featured tellers were Scott Woldman, Ellen Blum Barish, John Hahm, Marta Wilmes, Andrew Reilly and Hallie Palladino.

Scott WoldmanScott Woldman is a veteran comedian, improviser, story-teller and performance poet.  He is also a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists and Redtwist Theatre in Chicago. Scott’s work has been produced by Redtwist Theatre, The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, The Artistic Home, Under The Gun Theatre, Stangeloop Theatre, Stage Left Theatre, The Playground Theatre, Ouribos Theatre and The Second City. This season, Scott’s play Beautiful Autistic will be produced at Chicago Dramatists, and his play Interrogation will be produced at the Artistic Home.

Ellen Blum BarishEllen Blum Barish’s essays have appeared in Brevity, Literary Mama, Full Grown People, The Chicago Tribune and have aired on Chicago Public Radio. She blogs about craft, creativity and the writing process at EBB & Flow http://threadliterary.com/ebbflow/ Ellen has taught writing at Northwestern University, StoryStudio Chicago, Ragdale and Off Campus Writers Workshop and has told stories from her life at Story Sessions, Essay Fiesta, Story Club and will be telling a story at Is This A Thing in December. She is author of a book of essays, Views from the Home Office Window: On Motherhood, Family and Life and editor of Thread: A Literary Publication.

John HahmJohn Hahm is a newcomer to the storytelling community. He teaches English and coaches the Academic Decathlon Team at Northside College Preparatory High School, and is the proud father of Josh, a budding paramedic, and Leah a bright high school senior and advanced choir member at Lincoln Park High School. He is eternally grateful to Sheri Reda, Ellen Blum, Jill Howe, Rachael Smith and other virtuoso writers and storytellers for opening up the whole new life in letters he now enjoys, as a reader, audience member, and writer. These luminaries have taught him so much. Much more, they have given him the community of writers he has so wanted so long!

Marta WilmesMarta Wilmes is a writer and storyteller in Chicago. Over the years her creativity has manifest itself in a variety of ways: pretending to be named Cordelia while swimming with her friend Ariel; karaokeing to the three greats: Madonna, Whitney, and Gloria; designing literature explorations for her high school students; and writing and performing personal essays. Currently, she has a real need to share very private experiences in very public forums. She’s trying not to be overly concerned about this (slightly alarming) development. When not writing and performing, she can be found rereading classics from her childhood and trying to remember how to create imaginary worlds. Marta has performed at Fear Experiment, Is This a Thing?, and Story Sessions. She was recently published in Thread literary magazine.

Andrew ReillyAndrew Reilly is a writer, editor, photographer, and very occasional musician. His writing and photographs have appeared in a number of fine publications including The Billfold, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The A.V. Club, The Houston Chronicle, and Crain’s Chicago Business. He has also performed in a number of equally fine story and live-lit shows, including 2nd Story, Write Club, and Essay Fiesta, and his solo shows “Paris Of The South Pacific” and “Running Free” have headlined the Lifeline Theatre’s Fillet Of Solo Festival and the Side Project Theatre’s HOME Festival, respectively. Visit him online at andrewreilly.org or in person in Chicago, where he lives.

Hallie PalladinoHallie Palladino is an essayist, playwright and proud Chicagoan. This year she’s had plays included in both the Something Marvelous festival of magical realism and in PFP’s LezPlay Festival. Her essay Twinkle, Twinkle Traffic Light will appear on The Point Magazine’s website this fall. She has also published a number of scholarly essays on the subject of contemporary parenting. An active member of the Chicago literary community, Hallie is proud to be one of the original founders of the Tuesday Funk reading series at Hopleaf. She has served twice on the fiction selection committee for Make Magazine and she also reads scripts as a member of Stage Left Theater’s literary committee. Currently she’s working on a series of nonfiction essays about growing up on a Wyoming cattle ranch. She lives in Edgewater with her husband and their two adorable children.


On September 19, our campfire show featured six creepy stories by Jennifer Peepas, Kristin Clifford, Andrew Huff, Diane Kastiel, Dan Sheehan and Doug Reed.

Andrew HuffAndrew Huff is the editor and publisher of Gapers Block, an award-winning Chicago-centric news and events webzine he co-founded in 2003. A serial early adopter, Andrew created his first webpage in 1996; launched his personal blog, me3dia.com, in 2001; and joined both flickr and Twitter in their infancy. In addition to Gapers Block, he is also co-host of Tuesday Funk, Chicago’s eclectic monthly reading series, and host of 20×2 Chicago, a biannual show featuring 20 people who each get two minutes to answer the same question however they like. The next show is Oct. 23 at Schubas. By day, Andrew works at Glendale Communications Group, a nonprofit administration and public relations firm. He lives on the far North Side of Chicago with his wife and three cats.

Kristin CliffordKristin Clifford started doing stand-up in 2009, and has since become one of the most beloved comics in the Chicago stand-up scene. Kristin’s warm presence onstage is a rarity in stand-up comedy and really draws audiences in– but this rose has a thorn. Her face may be sweet, but her observational and autobiographical comedy cuts like a knife. Kristin’s lovable yet biting take on topics like working life, dating, and pop culture has made her relatable to audiences all over the country. Follow her: @kristincliff. Kristin is a current cast member of The Lincoln Lodge, the country’s longest running independent comedy show, now entering its 16th season.

Dan SheehanDan Sheehan is a comedian and Chicago native who has always had a passion for making people laugh. His comedy and writing have been featured in such outlets as Clickhole, Buzzfeed, Playboy, and more. Dan helped create one of Chicago’s fastest growing comedic storytelling shows, “We Still Like You.” The show features Chicago’s best comedians telling some of their most shameful stories. While traveling across the Midwest, The Chicago Tribune called We Still Like You, “a raucous, good time” and the show was named one of St. Louis’s best comedy shows of 2014 by the Riverfront Times. He also is a producer of This Week’s Show, one of Chicago’s premiere stand-up showcases.

Diane KastielDiane Kastiel is a writer and storyteller based in Chicago. She’s done a lot of work with nonprofits, and is an alumna of the University of Chicago’s Great Books program and The Second City Conservatory. Diane is a three-time Moth StorySLAM winner whose work has been featured on NPR’s Moth Radio Hour and its podcast. Diane has performed at the Park West, Mayne Stage and Lifeline theaters, and at WBEZ’s inaugural New Year’s Eve party. She also does commercial writing for anyone with a checkbook (so call now for a free estimate!).

Doug Reed headshotDoug Reed grew up in Richmond, VA. He attended Goshen College, a small Mennonite school where he still proudly holds the school record for most chapel skips. He currently works a terrible IT job and is having a midlife crisis.

His debut novel, “Half”, was published by ENC Press last year. It’s the story of a vampire who works a terrible IT job and is having a midlife crisis.

Jennifer PeepasJennifer Peepas writes, makes movies, and teaches filmmaking at Columbia College Chicago and The Second City. She writes the popular advice blog CaptainAwkward.com.
 
 
 
 


On May 30, six storytellers shared their fashion-themed stories for our “Threads” show.

DeniseSantomauroDenise Santomauro is a writer, storyteller, and performer. In addition to performing in a variety of stage plays in Chicago, Denise has performed in live lit around the city. She has also published several pieces of non-fiction. Denise is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
 

MattUlrichMatt Ulrich is originally from Dallas, Tx, but due to moral, social, and political beliefs he now calls Chicago home. Audience members have found Matt to be “delightfully tolerable”, and because of this he has worked for a few comedy theaters in Chicago. He likes to take pictures of things. He loves his wife. He now has a car and a new set of things to complain about. Doughnuts? He knows how to make them. He recently shaved his beard and is pretty self conscious about it.

ChuckSudoBorn and raised on Chicago’s Northwest Side, Chuck Sudo has called Bridgeport home for 16 years and was at various points of his life a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king… these days, he simply wants to be. A journalist, writer and editor, Chuck’s reporting has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out Chicago, Playboy.com, Centerstage, and LIFE.com. He was most recently Editor-in-chief of the popular blog Chicagoist, named best local website by the Community Media Workshop and “best local general-interest blog” by Newcity. Chuck has performed onstage at That’s All She Wrote, Tuesday Funk, The Paper Machete, “CHIRP Radio’s ‘The First Time’ and The Frunchroom and can now cross Story Sessions of his live lit bucket list.

RebeccaKlingRebecca Kling is a transgender artist and educator who explores gender and identity through solo performance pieces and educational workshops. Her multidisciplinary performances incorporate conversational storytelling, personal narrative, humor, and more. Kling takes the position that sharing accessible queer narrative with a wide audience is a form of activism, and that understanding combats bigotry. In 2013, Kling was named as part of the inaugural Trans 100, a list celebrating excellence in the transgender community. In 2014, she was named as one of the Guild Literary Complex’s 25 Writer’s to Watch. Kling’s writing has been published at Jezebel, in Chicago IRL issues 1 through 4, Bodies of Work, the Center for Classic Theatre Review, and elsewhere. Her book, No Gender Left Behind, was released in 2013. You can learn more about Rebecca’s work at www.rebeccakling.com.

Tekki LomnickiTekki Lomnicki believes in the healing power of stories. She is a solo performer, playwright, director and educator. She has devoted her craft to finding ways to incorporate her abilities and those of others to perform compelling stories. Tekki is the Artistic Director of Tellin’ Tales Theatre, a not-for-profit dedicated to shattering barriers between the disabled and able-bodied worlds. They produce adult solo performance as well as a life changing mentoring program and show called “Six Stories Up” featuring kids and adults with and without disabilities. Tekki starred in the award-winning film, “The Miracle” by Jeffrey Jon Smith. She is a recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Artists Fellowship in New Performance Forms, the 2008 3Arts Artists Award in Theater, the 2010 Grigsby Award for Excellence in Solo Performance and most recently the 2014 Dan Van Hecke Award for leadership and service to the disability community. You can see some of her work at tekkilomnicki.com and tellintales.org.

TimStaffordTim Stafford is a poet and public school teacher from Lyons, IL. He has performed at literary festivals across the U.S. and Europe. Most recently, he performed at the 2014 Woerdz Festival with Patti Smith in Luzern, Switzerland. He is the editor of the poetry anthology series “Learn Then Burn” on Write Bloody Publishing. You can find more info on his website www.learnthenburn.com.

 
 


On April 29, six storytellers graced the stage for our 2nd anniversary show, themed, All In.

SarahBungerSarah Bunger grew up in one of the smallest towns imaginable outside of Dayton, Ohio (think: flashing caution light, a gas station/Subway sandwich shop, and lots and lots of cows). Since moving to the big city seven years ago, she is adjusting to the long winters and nearly complete lack of cows. She is a high school English teacher, relishing every minute she gets to re-experience Holden Caulfield, Blanche Dubois, and Nick Carraway. (But not those boys from Lord of the Flies. Because, gross). She is a Moth Grand Slam champion (the story will be on the Moth Radio Hour in June 2015). She has told stories at Solo Theatre, Story Lab, Truth or Lie Reading Series, and The Bucket List. She hopes to tell more stories in 2015 and beyond.

NoahGinexNoah Ginex has been building and performing puppets for over 20 years. Since training with The Jim Henson Company in 1999, Noah has worked with such luminaries as Spiffy Pictures, The USNA Glee Club in Annapolis, Florida State University, and Canadian rockers Barenaked Ladies. He is currently producing and performing in Snorf! – A Puppet Variety Show, lives in Chicago with his wife, daughter, tolerant cat and unaware betta fish, and can be found on facebook, twitter and google or at www.noahginex.com and www.thesnorfshow.com.
Photo by Greg Inda Photography

Jill HoweJill Howe co-produces Story Sessions, a monthly live-lit event featuring true stories connected through a theme, live music and real-time story-inspired artwork at the beautiful City Winery in the West Loop. In addition to performing her own stories at great shows like Mortified, That’s All She Wrote, Essay Fiesta and more, Jill also coaches storytellers and organizes writing groups throughout the city.

Roger BattonRoger Batton is the producer and founder of Indigan Storyteller. “I believe the oral tradition remains as the primary mode of learning programmed in human DNA.” Roger is a Strategic Planning Writer/Consultant, with a degree in Creative Writing/Communications from Western Michigan University. He performs Post Modern poetry and enjoys life with his dogs in the woods just east of Three Oaks, MI.

Barrie ColeBarrie Cole is a writer, playwright and performer. Earlier this year, her play “To Relax and Laugh” played as part of the 2015 Rhinoceros Theatre Festival. Reviewer Kim Campbell wrote, “Her writing is often acerbic, spontaneous, full of contradictions and at times transcendently insightful — striving to reach beyond mere character to touch on the essence of wonder at sheer existence.” She is thrilled to be part of Story Sessions once again. Her public theater pieces “Cell Phone Conversations” directed by Jen Moniz resumes after a winter hiatus on “L” trains next month.

RobertCorneliusRobert Cornelius has been an actor, singer, and arts educator his more than thirty years. For the past eight years, he has served as Arts Education Director at Victory Gardens Theater, working with teens in high schools throughout the city. During that same time, he has performed in plays and workshops at such theaters as Drury Lane Oakbrook, The Goodman, Victory Gardens, Court Theatre, About Face and more. He also performs as a band member of local favorites Poi Dog Pondering, and fronts his own band, RC7.
 


On March 29, our siblings-themed show, “Oh Brother” we heard tales from Steven Strafford, Nestor Gomez, Brooke Allen, Diane Kastiel, Patrick Brennan and Mary Dean Cason.

STeven STraffordSteven Strafford is a Brooklyn-born, Jersey-raised actor and writer. He has been seen in Spamalot (Original Vegas Cast) as Prince Herbert and 4 other characters (He’s the guy who said, “I’m not dead yet,” amongst other things.) Steven has worked regionally at Portland Stage Company, Sacramento Music Circus, The Cape Playhouse and Bakerloo Theatre Project. He has performed nationally in Peter Pan, in Europe in Grease! and in Asia in Cinderella (w/ Lea Salonga). Steven has performed his storytelling around Chicago at Story Club, You’re Being Ridiculous, This Much is True and with Arlene Malinowski in Don’t Make Me Turn This Car Around. He is the author and performer of Methtacular! his one-man show about his meth addiction replete with original music, honesty and a game show!

NestorGomezNestor Gomez was born in Guatemala and moved with his family to the United States in the mid eighties. One of his passions is collaborating with T-shirt illustrators around the world. His design ideas have been printed by Threadless, Shirt-woot and other T-shirt companies. Nestor also enjoys dancing to Latin music, having taken classes at Latin Rhythms, Latin Street, MMA and having participated in Modern Clave dance company. He is an avid reader and self-taught poet who happened upon the storytelling community a few months ago. Since then, he has participated in several storytelling events around the city. He also has organized his own storytelling event Voces ( stories with a Latino flair) and co-hosted Do Not Submit with Scott Whitehair and the Stoop with Lily Be. Most recently Nestor Won first place at the Chicago Moth Grand Slam. He can also be found walking his Pit Bull dogs with his girlfriend “sweet Mel” in Edgewater. Beware, Nestor drives under Uber and Lyft during the weekends, you might unknowingly become a subject of one his stories.

BrookeAllenBrooke Allen’s recent writing credits include; “Pleasuretown” (WBEZ Podcast Contributing Writer), “King Charlie” (Tympanic Theatre) “It’s Not About the Bacon” (Broken Nose Theatre) “The Rise and Fall…”(Sketchbook, Collaboraction), “The Deer” (Making Productions, London/The Ruckus), “The Life and Death of Madam Barker” (Red Tape Theatre),”Coyote” (The Side Project), The One Minute Play Festival, 2013-2015,”Ruby Wilder” (Tympanic Theatre / New York International Fringe Festival / Not Waiting Productions), “House Work” (Not Waiting Productions). Brooke is an Artistic Advisor for the Chicago Inclusion Project, an Artistic Associate with The Ruckus where she co-created the “Redacted” series, was the 2013 Playwright in Residence at Red Tape Theatre and is the current Resident Playwright with Bailiwick Chicago. Brooke is also a Storyteller and has performed with Mortified, Guts and Glory, Solo in the Second City, The Paper Machete and You’re Being Ridiculous.

DianeDiane Kastiel is a writer and storyteller based in Chicago. Her checkered past includes careers as a journalist, marketing consultant, nonprofit executive, and communication director. Along the way she picked up an MBA from Northwestern (hoping to make the big bucks), completed the University of Chicago’s Great Books program (hoping to find the meaning of life), and studied improv at the Second City Conservatory (hoping, finally, to just have fun). Diane is a Moth Story Slam winner, and her work has been featured on NPR’s Moth Story Hour and its podcast. She also does commercial freelance writing for anyone with a checkbook (so call now for a free estimate!)

Patrick BrennenPatrick Brennan has been performing in Chicago for a little while now and loves to tell and hear stories. A past winner of WNEP’s SKALD storytelling competition, Patrick has performed at This Much is True and has also been an emcee for a bunch of stuff. He loves that. About a year ago, Patrick became an ESL teacher at Solex University — this was the most terrifying and gratifying thing he’s ever done.

MaryDeanCasonMary Dean Cason is a cofounder of Indigan Storytellers, a traveling workshop and performance venue that has journeyed as far as The International Storytelling Festival in San Miguel, Mexico. She is a featured writer/performer at a number of story telling venues, including Story Club, Michigan’s Acorn Theater, and Story Sessions. Her first book, What Solomon Saw and Other Stories is available through Amazon. Cason’s awards include the University of Memphis Pinch Award, The University of Chicago Writer’s Studio Prize for Fiction. She was a finalist in Chicago Public Radio’s Stories on Stage. Learn more at marydeancason.com.

 


Story Sessions embarked on its inaugural brunch show on February 22. We heard stories from featured performers, MT Cozzola, Ted Wesenberg, Tom Wolferman, Danielle Pinnock, James Sweeney and Marty McConnell.

MTCozzolaMT Cozzola is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists. Her scripts include BOY SMALL (“one of the best Chicago plays to see now” – Time Out Chicago), EYE OF THE SANDMAN (“Gleefully camp” – Perth Revelation Film Festival), and ST. GEORGE ON THE BUS (“Why did you write a play about Uncle George and not about me?” – her mom). MT’s short story “Toothbrush” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Other work has been published in After Hours, Crawdad Literary Review, 3Elements Review, and Swivel. MT is a Ragdale fellow and recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award. Visit her blog midwesternrobot.com.

TedWesenbergTed Wesenberg abandoned honest work in Shanghai and moved to Chicago for art school. He interns for TriQuarterly Magazine. His work is forthcoming in Memoryhouse Magazine. He lives in Rogers Park where he is working on a novel.
 
 
 

TomWolfermanUntil now, Tom Wolferman has never mixed storytelling with brunch. He worries that the audience will find him compatible with lump crab cakes and house cured salmon. If not, he suggests the Monte Cristo sandwich.

 
 

DaniellePinnockDanielle Pinnock is thrilled to be a part of Story Sessions for the first time! She was hand selected by Anna Deavere Smith to workshop a course called “Personal Narratives, Global Identities” in San Francisco last June. Danielle recently moved to Chicago after understudying in Goodman Theatre’s By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, directed by Chuck Smith. She is currently acting in two plays at the moment. Twilight: Los Angeles,1992 which will be at the Chopin Theater till February 22. Whilst in Chicago, Danielle has been developing her one-woman documentary play, Body/Courage, which is based on interviews Pinnock has conducted with over 400 people worldwide. Greenhouse Theater Center will be hosting the final showcase performance of “Body/Courage” on Monday, February 16 at 7:30pm. Get more information at bodycourage.com. Always Love to Jack, The Moms and friends. Psalm 34.

James SweeneySometimes, for no particular reason, James Sweeney opens his mouth and says curiously strange things.  Over time he’s learned to write some of these things down.  When not making his mark in the world of corporate real estate James lives in Berwyn where he enjoys sitting on his porch and basking in the admiration of his wife and three obedient children.  He is honored to be invited back to Story Sessions. 

martymcconnellMarty McConnell transplanted herself from Chicago to New York City in 1999, after completing the first of three national tours with the Morrigan, an all-female performance poetry troupe she co-founded. She received her MFA in creative writing/poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and for nearly a decade, co-curated the flagship reading series of the New York City-based louderARTS Project. She appeared on both the second and fifth seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. She returned to Chicago in 2009 to co-found Vox Ferus, an organization dedicated to empowering and energizing individuals and communities through the written and spoken word. She has performed and facilitated workshops at schools and festivals around the country, including The Dodge Poetry Festival, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Wicker Park Arts Festival, Connecticut Poetry Festival, Cornell University, University of Utah, James Madison University, Old Dominion, University of Connecticut, University of Arkansas, DePaul University, and more. She now lives in Chicago, and travels the country performing and leading workshops.

 


Get ready for the final Story Sessions performance at Fillet of Solo on January 24, featuring performances by Eileen Dougharty, Paul Teodo, Roger Batton, David Himmel and Steven Strafford.

Eileen DoughartyEileen Dougharty much prefers to laugh with you rather than at you, for the record. When she’s not writing, she’s flying around the country handing out drinks, snacks, and snark to the general public or sampling the south side’s finest tamales. Originally from Seattle, she is pleased to call Chicago home as it has proven itself to be a steady source of story worthy adventures.
 

Roger BattonRoger Batton believes the oral tradition remains as the primary mode of learning programmed in human DNA. He is a Strategic Planning Writer/Consultant. Roger performs Post Modern poetry and enjoys life with his three dogs in the woods just east of Three Oaks. He is also author of the Indigan Storyteller Workshop series and Executive Producer of the 2014 San Miguel de Allende International Storytelling Festival and Competition.

Paul TeodoPaul Teodo loves his sons, his girl, his friends and his life. Stories are the glue that cements our spirits to each other. Former moth grand slam winner and semi retired health care exec. Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
 
 
 

David HimmelDavid Himmel is an author, playwright and editor. His book, A Camp Story (The History Press, 2012) is worth the read and his plays have been funny and performed on a few serious stages. In November 2014, his story “Bravisimo” was published in The Anthology of Cozy Noir (Darkhouse Books). He is the head writer of the award-nominated comedy web series, Greetings! From Prison, and is editor-in-chief of Chicago Health magazine. A fair amount of his work has appeared in magazines throughout the U.S. He lives in Chicago with a dog and a girlfriend.

STeven STraffordSteven Strafford is a Brooklyn-born, Jersey-raised actor and writer. He has been seen in Spamalot (Original Vegas Cast) as Prince Herbert and 4 other characters (He’s the guy who said, “I’m not dead yet,” amongst other things.) Steven has worked regionally at Portland Stage Company, Sacramento Music Circus, The Cape Playhouse and Bakerloo Theatre Project. He has performed nationally in Peter Pan, in Europe in Grease! and in Asia in Cinderella (w/ Lea Salonga). Steven has performed his storytelling around Chicago at Story Club, You’re Being Ridiculous, This Much is True and with Arlene Malinowski in Don’t Make Me Turn This Car Around. He is the author and performer of Methtacular! his one-man show about his meth addiction replete with original music, honesty and a game show!
 
 


On January 17, Story Sessions delivered a second night of stories at Fillet of Solo with featured performers, Jennifer Peepas, Mark Schab, Ben Tanzer and Sean Keen.

Jennifer PeepasJennifer Peepas writes the popular advice blog Captain Awkward.com and teaches film and video production and screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago. She has read at Story Club, Story Club South Side, That’s All She Wrote, Guts & Glory, This Much is True. She has written for IndieWire and published personal essays in Story Club Magazine and The Archipelago. Her short film Meet In A Public Place, a comedy about online dating, recently premiered at the Oakland Underground Film Festival.

Mark SchabMark Schab is a writer and performer originally from Chicago. He has performed with Story Sessions, Telling Tales Theatre, Essay Fiesta, Ragdale and others. Mark has also performed extensively on stage at various Chicago theaters and is a recipient of a Jeff Award for his work with Trapdoor Theatre. Love to his family & friends.
 

Ben TanzerBen Tanzer is the author of the books My Father’s House, You Can Make Him Like You, Orphans, which won the 24th Annual Midwest Book Award in Fantasy/SciFi/Horror/Paranormal, and Lost in Space, which received an Honorable Mention in the Chicago Writers Association 2014 Book Awards Traditional Non-Fiction category, among others. He also contributes to Men’s Health, directs Publicity and Content Strategy for Curbside Splendor, and can be found online at This Blog Will Change Your Life, the center of his vast, albeit faux, lifestyle empire.

Sean KeenSean Keen grew up in the shadow of O’Hare airport. He was once an art student. Today he occupies his time cooking, riding his bike, combing his beard and pushing pencils for a software company. He is also putting finishing touches on his book, Near Mrs.: Essays About Dating, which will be published by someone in 2015, come hell or high water.

 


Story Sessions was featured at the 18th Fillet of Solo Festival at Lifeline Theatre. The first of three shows was January 10 with storytellers, Johnnie Grozenski, Kat Barker, Diane Kastiel and Kevin Cordi.

JohnnieJohnnie Grozenski has been in Chicago almost 20 years now and on the live lit scene for a few of those years and is currently working on a solo show. He believes that 2015 is really going to be a great year with (hopefully) a few great new stories to tell in the very near future. When he is not writing or watching tv, he is spending quality time with his husband Paul and dog Roxy!

KatKat Barker is an actress and writer who currently teaches and directs improvisation and sketch comedy at Second City. Kat has performed at Just For Laughs Chicago, Chicago Sketchfest, iO Theater, Annoyance Theater, Comedy Sportz, Gayco, Storybox Theater, Chicago Improv Festival, Montreal Improv Festival and Second City’s Skybox Theater.

DianeDiane Kastiel is a writer and storyteller based in Chicago. Her checkered past includes careers as a journalist, marketing consultant, nonprofit executive, and communication director. Along the way she picked up an MBA from Northwestern (hoping to make the big bucks), completed the University of Chicago’s Great Books program (hoping to find the meaning of life), and studied improv at the Second City Conservatory (hoping, finally, to just have fun). Diane is a Moth Story Slam winner, and her work has been featured on NPR’s Moth Story Hour and its podcast. She also does commercial freelance writing for anyone with a checkbook (so call now for a free estimate!)

KevinKevin Cordi believes in the rich value of play and story. He is the author of Playing with Stories: Story crafting for writers, teachers, and other imaginative thinkers (2014) and his playground is the world. He has shared stories and/or taught workshops in over 40 states, England, Japan, Singapore, Canada, Scotland, and most recently in the Middle East, in Qatar. He holds a Doctorate in Storytelling and Story Making from The Ohio State University but believes his real education came from deep listening, especially to his West Virginia parents who raised him on story. He has told stories with the little people in the Wizard of Oz, opened for the Charlie Daniels Band, and to the quiet resonance of a pre-school classroom. Regardless of where he is, he shares stories in the interest that another story will answer back. He values the rich personal narrative and the well told folktale. You can discover more of his work at kevincordi.com and step into the playground (his blog) at permission2play.com
 


On December 17, we collaborated with Pivot Arts in “A Survival Guide for the Holidays” featuring Story Sessions alumni, Alan Neff and Jeremy Owens.

Alan NeffAlan Neff has been writing intermittently since his adolescence, which, so far as he can tell, has never ended. During fallow creative periods – also known as “most of his adult life” – he was a law-school dean, a business-school professor, and a litigator for the City of Chicago, his home town. While he worked as a professor and lawyer, he conned various publishers to loose on an unsuspecting public non-fiction books and articles he wrote about the legal system. He is also a lapsed bar-room poet and recovering novelist. He had one novel published, “Blauser’s Building,” which approximately 200 people actually bought before the publisher went out of business. He won the Uptown Poetry Slam once. He stopped reading poetry aloud in public places about 10 years ago, when he ran out of poems. In October 2013, he started performing again, in live-literature venues. The first piece he read – about his mother’s PTSD – was published in the New York Times. He worries it’s all downhill from there. Since then, he has been a featured performer at The Paper Machete Show and Story Club Chicago. When he’s not sweating profusely in terrified anticipation of his performance here tonight, he’s writing plays, which he hopes a theatre or two will produce. He’s been married to another writer for 36 years and has two adult sons who are statistically anomalous: they both have BFAs and are working artists.

jeremy_owensJeremy Owens is the creator and producer of You’re Being Ridiculous. He has told stories with Lifeline Theatre’s Filet of Solo Festival, Story Club, Guts & Glory, Solo in the 2nd City and The Paper Machete. He’s a food writer for Oy Chicago and Gapers Block and wants to be Whoopi Goldberg when he grows up.
 


On December 7, we joined forces with three shows across the midwest to create “Story Fusion” featuring Story Sessions favorites, Tom Wolferman and Eileen Dougharty.

TomWolferman At an early age, Tom Wolferman discovered he could not draw, sing, dance or perform an ankle hang on gym class trapeze rings. So he wrote. As a copywriter, Tom has written about surgeon’s gloves, cat litter, cement, pinball machines, overpowering fragrances for men and snowmobile suits for women. He also has shared stories in bars, book stores and within weenie roasting reach of a crackling fire. Once he masters the trapeze ankle hang, Tom hopes to open for Pink.

EileenDoughartyEileen Dougharty got into storytelling in an attempt to find fun Chicago friends, and subsequently found herself. She was recently chosen to attend the Praiano Writer’s Conference, where she combined her love of stories, pasta, and wine on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Eileen has never missed a Story Sessions event and is proud to be part of this collaboration.

 


On October 25, we encountered our scariest Story Sessions yet- our creepy campfire show! Six storytellers shared stories on the theme, “Petrified.” Featured performers were Amy Sumpter, Jen Ellison, Kevin Gladish, Patrick Brennen, Gina Watters and Kendra Stevens.

Amy SumpterAmy Sumpter is a Comedic Actress who has done stand-up in Chicago for over 7 years. She loves telling stories, high kicking and performing with the Kates in Lincoln Square. She is also in an female Beastie Boys tribute band called She’s Crafty.
 
 
 

Patrick BrennenPatrick Brennan has been performing in Chicago for a little while now and loves to tell and hear stories. A past winner of WNEP’s SKALD storytelling competition, Patrick has performed at This Much is True and has also been an emcee for a bunch of stuff. He loves that. About a year ago, Patrick became an ESL teacher at Solex University — this was the most terrifying and gratifying thing he’s ever done.

Gina WattersGina Watters has been writing and telling stories her whole life. She is one of the approximately 37.8 million Chicagoans originally from Michigan, and yes, she will show you on her hand where she is from (whether you like it or not). She is afraid of sharks, basements and animatronics, and has probably read more books about serial killers than would be considered psychologically healthy.

Kevin GladishKevin Gladish is very excited to once again be part of Story Sessions and to join you all by a cozy campfire. Kevin has been telling stories around Chicago at venues such as The Moth, Story Club, That’s All She Wrote, This Much is True, WNEP’s Skald, and the side project. You can also hear him on The Moth podcast in the Chicago Moth Grand Slam, as well as on WBEZ’s Pleasuretown podcast (new episodes airing soon!). Kevin is also an actor who has worked onstage at theatre companies such as City Lit, Steep, Griffin, Timeline, The Artistic Home and Promethian Theatre Ensemble, among others.

Jen EllisonJen Ellison has been performing, writing and directing throughout Chicago with WNEP, The Mammals, Trap Door Theatre, Collaboraction, The Neo-Futurists, and Theatre Seven. She has told stories at Write Club, Essay Fiesta, This Much is True and Here’s the Story. Currently, Jen teaches Ethics at DePaul, Comedy Studies at Columbia College and is a director for the National Touring Company of the Second City.

KendraStevensKendra Stevens is a Chicago-based writer, Live Lit performer, comic and rapper. She is a co-producer of the monthly show, Serving the Sentence, is an original member of the kates, a Write Club victor, and has also been featured at Story Club, Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, Essay Fiesta, Story Sessions, among others. She is also one-fourth of Chicago’s All-Female Beastie Boys Tribute, She’s Crafty, spitting rhymes as Ken D.

 


On September 14, six storytellers shared tales of “reckoning”. Featured performers include Norm Doucet, Dana Norris, David Barish, Julia Borcherts, James Sweeney and Pamela Bell.

norm doucetNorm Doucet hails from Charleston, SC and was heavily influenced by the layered complexity that exists there leading him to make some interesting decisions, starting with attending a college that was founded after a slave revolt. This institution also has the dubious distinction of having the first shots of the Civil War fired by two of its cadets. An English major as an undergrad, he decided to join the Marine Corps and spent almost a decade there, earning his MA in English literature in the process. Norm loves telling stories, especially stories about those seminal moments that explain the duality that exists in most people.

dana norrisDana Norris is the founder and high priestess of the Story Club franchise. She produces and hosts Story Club North Side at Holiday Club in Chicago. She once went on a lot of internet dates and she writes about those mistakes for the website Role Reboot and she teaches at StoryStudio Chicago. She has been published in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Rumpus, the Tampa Review, and her stories have been featured on WBEZ (91.5 FM) and Vocalo.org (89.5 FM). She performs around Chicago with Mortified, The Paper Machete, The Kates, Essay Fiesta, This Much is True, Write Club, Guts and Glory, and many others. You can see her upcoming performance schedule at dananorris.net

david barishDavid Barish has been listening to stories for years as an attorney representing injured workers. Lately, he has been telling them. This, of course, is not new. A teacher once told his parents, “David is learning but none of the children sitting around him are learning.” He has told at Story Club, Serving the Sentence and The Moth. He can also be heard on the Story Sessions podcast.
 

julia borchertsJulia Borcherts is the co-founder of Reading Under the Influence, a book publicist with Kaye Publicity and an instructor in the Department of Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. She has written extensively for RedEye and Time Out Chicago and is a frequent performer with 2nd Story.
 
 

james sweeneyJames Sweeney lives in Berwyn. He is a diet pepsi enthusiast, father of three, husband of one. Hobbies include playing bocce ball while drinking gin and tonics, seasonal affective disorder, amateur landscaping, and hanging out in his garage. James’ accomplishments include driving solo to Tierra del Fuego and having survived a fall out of a speeding car.
 

pamela bellPamela Bell is a graduate of the University of Chicago with her own private psychotherapy practice in Chicago, specializing in hypnotherapy for healing from trauma. As a social worker, Pam has worked in the field of political lobbying, child welfare, and for Children’s Memorial Hospital. Pam might be the only person on record who has dropped out of Harvard Business School to become a social worker. She is also a persistent, if not highly-skilled, guitar player.

 


Father’s Day Special! On Sunday, June 15th, six storytellers shared their best dad stories for our “Day of the Dad” themed show.

Shannon CasonShannon Cason is a writer and storyteller. He has shared his stories on large stages, dive bars, and small living rooms all around the country. Shannon is a host, Mainstage storyteller and GrandSlam Champion with The Moth. He is a contributor to NPR’s Snap Judgment; awarded their Best Performance of 2013. Shannon also hosts his own storytelling podcast -Homemade Stories – which became a part of WBEZ this year. He is originally from Detroit, married, and father of two beautiful daughters. Please find out more at shannoncason.com. Photo credit: Jonathan Gibby at jonathangibby.com

Alan NeffAlan Neff has been writing intermittently since his adolescence, which, so far as he can tell, has never ended. During fallow creative periods – also known as “most of his adult life” – he was a law-school dean, a business-school professor, and a litigator for the City of Chicago, his home town. While he worked as a professor and lawyer, he conned various publishers to loose on an unsuspecting public non-fiction books and articles he wrote about the legal system. He is also a lapsed bar-room poet and recovering novelist. He had one novel published, “Blauser’s Building,” which approximately 200 people actually bought before the publisher went out of business. He won the Uptown Poetry Slam once. He stopped reading poetry aloud in public places about 10 years ago, when he ran out of poems. In October 2013, he started performing again, in live-literature venues. The first piece he read – about his mother’s PTSD – was published in the New York Times. He worries it’s all downhill from there. Since then, he has been a featured performer at The Paper Machete Show and Story Club Chicago. When he’s not sweating profusely in terrified anticipation of his performance here tonight, he’s writing plays, which he hopes a theatre or two will produce. He’s been married to another writer for 36 years and has two adult sons who are statistically anomalous: they both have BFAs and are working artists.

Kelsie HuffKelsie Huff is a Chicago based comedian performing at venues such as Zanies, Chicago’s Laugh Factory, UP Comedy, Mayne Stage, Comedy on State (Madison) and throughout the suburbs. She has also performed at several comedy festivals including, New Orleans, North Carolina, Boston Women in Comedy Festival, Bridgetown Comedy Festival, and Chicago Funny Female Festival. Like most Chicago comedians Kelsie studied at iO and Second City. While nailing her object work and “yes anding” her heart out she met Amy Sumpter and formed the two women sketch comedy team Children of the Absurd. Their signature show titled “10% Less Fat” focused on the absurdity of female body image and was performed all over the Midwest. Huff then wrote and produced her acclaimed one woman show, Huffs, which explored the struggle to find forgiveness in one dysfunctional family tree. It was given a 4 out of 4 review from Boulder’s Daily Camera, was a “Don’t Miss” in Time Out Chicago and won the Boulder Fringe Festival Encore Award. Kelsie’s second one woman show, Bruiser: Tales from a Traumatized Tomboy received 4 out of 4 stars in the Chicago Stage Review, Best Solo Performance of 2011. Huff has performed in short films, was the commercial “spokesfly” for the Life Foundation, and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She is very proud to produce the monthly all female comedy showcase the kates. Kelsie is a senior cast member of Comedy Sportz 100 Proof Comedy and teaches Feminine Comique, an all-female stand up class produced by Tight Five Productions. Photo credit: Johnny Knight

Linda GorhamExpect the unexpected from Linda Gorham! Her engaging stories often have surprising twists and unconventional humor. Linda performs internationally as a storyteller, speaker, and workshop presenter. Her latest CD, ‘I Am Somebody,’ is a revealing look at the poignant, quirky and often unpredictable world of family, love and self-identity. Since 1989, Linda has customized programs for festivals, museums, keynotes, conferences, schools, libraries, staff development, and corporations. Linda is the co-festival director of the National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference coming to Chicago / Oak Lawn in November, 2014. Photo credit: James Harvey Photography

Natasha-TsoutsourisNatasha Tsoutsouris is a writer and performer. She considers herself quite lucky to have performed at many storytelling events around Chicago. Natasha just finished her role as Officer Cherry in the Jeff Recommended play, A Place in the Woods. She is thrilled to be making her third appearance with Story Sessions!
 
 

Kevin GladishKevin Gladish is thrilled to return to Story Sessions. He’s been telling stories at venues such as The Moth, This Much is True, Story Club, That’s All She Wrote, WNEP’s Skald, and the side project. You can hear him on The Moth podcast in the Chicago Moth Grand Slam telling a cautionary tale about why you shouldn’t feed lemurs. Kevin is also an actor who has worked onstage at theatre companies such as City Lit, Steep, Griffin, Timeline,and Promethian Theatre Ensemble, among others. He dedicates this performance to the memory of Norm Gladish, the best storyteller he’s ever known. Photo credit: Johnny Knight

 


On Wednesday, May 21, our storytellers nourished us with tales of food for our “Devour” themed show. We feasted on six courses of stories from featured performers, Mindy Segal, James Sweeney, Martha Bayne, Art Jackson + Chelsea Kalberloh Jackson, Dani Bryant and Diana Slickman.

Dani Bryant Dani Bryant is a devised method playwright, director and proud founder of Knife & Fork.In addition to creating theater, she is passionate about facilitating social practice events and discussions on the topic of body politics and the role food plays in our lives. In 2009 Dani had a transformative experience when she created a solo show entitled Binge, exploring her very personal struggles with disordered eating. The positive response from this small project affirmed that food and body politics onstage was and is a worthwhile topic. Dani’s work is often site-specific, always devised and begins by using social practice as an entry point– letting collaborative discussion shape each project. Originally from Tennessee, she attended The University of North Carolina School of the Arts and received her BFA from the Hartt School of Theater. Find more on her body of work at danibryant.com

Diana SlickmanDiana Slickman has been a writer, performer, producer, director, and administrator in Chicago theater for nearly three decades. Since 2003 she has been a Theater Oobleck ensemble member and has appeared in seven of their shows, most recently Mickle Maher’s There Is a Happiness That Morning Is. She’s also a member of BoyGirlBoyGirl, a group solo performance ensemble with whom she has created eleven shows based on found text including last fall’s Phenomena of Materialisation. Diana performs her own writing at various live lit shows around town including Essay Fiesta, Write Club, The Encyclopedia Show, Paper Machete, and Guts and Glory. A ‘90s vintage Neo-Futurist, she performed in Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind for eight years and collaborated on several prime time productions there. Most recently she appeared in the world premier of Breach by Egan Reich with Dog and Pony Theater Co.

James SweeneyJames Sweeney lives in Berwyn. He is a diet pepsi enthusiast, father of three, husband of one. Hobbies include playing bocce ball while drinking gin and tonics, seasonal affective disorder, amateur landscaping, and hanging out in his garage. James’ accomplishments include driving solo to Tierra del Fuego and having survived a fall out of a speeding car. This is his first show after completing Kelsie Huff’s Story Studio workshop this Spring.

Martha BayneMartha Bayne is a Chicago-based writer and editor whose features and essays have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Reader, Time Out Chicago, the Rumpus, the Baffler, and other local and national outlets. Founder of the Soup & Bread series of hunger-relief fundraisers at Chicago’s Hideout bar and music club, she is the author of Soup & Bread Cookbook: Building Community One Pot at a Time (Agate/Surrey, 2011) and an ensemble member with Chicago’s Theater Oobleck. She tends bar at the Hideout on Wednesday afternoons. Find out more at marthabayne.com.

Art_Chelsea JacksonArt Jackson and Chelsea Kalberloh Jackson are the owners of Pleasant House Bakery, located in Bridgeport and Three Oaks, MI, specializing in the most magical, modern, and delicious savory pies and divine specialty treats. Most recently the chef of Bijan’s Bistro in downtown Chicago, Art has worked at such lauded restaurants as Les Nomades in Chicago and Fifth Floor in San Francisco. He also teaches a series of food-driven seminars at the Chicago showroom for Bulthaup. He graduated from Illinois State University and attended Kendall College. Chelsea is a writer and editor, and the pastry chef of Pleasant House Bakery. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and Kendall College.

Mindy SegalMindy Segal specializes in contemporary American cuisine, placing a modern twist on traditional classics. What makes her one of the best pastry chefs in America is her mastery of temperature, texture and taste. In a word, balance. Chef Segal refined her craft as pastry chef in some of the most prestigious kitchens in the country, with early professional positions stationing her at Spago, Gordon, Charlie Trotter’s, Ambria and MK. Segal’s subtle combinations of hot and cold, crispy and smooth, salty and sweet raise her desserts to the level of perfection. But her desserts don’t come off as meticulous, manufactured or precious, but rather as heartfelt dishes of pure craftsmanship—a craftsmanship that is rooted in Midwestern wholesomeness and more importantly comfort. Eating one of Mindy’s desserts can transport you back to a fond childhood memory of sweetness that has been taken apart and somehow reassembled into something better. Mindy’s restaurant, HotChocolate is the culmination of 25+ years of dedication to her craft and the passion she has for the entire culinary experience. Segal was awarded the prestigious James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in the Country in 2012, and was nominated for this category five times prior in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. She captured the Jean Banchet award for Best Celebrity Pastry Chef in Chicago and was named Pastry Chef of the Year by Chicago Magazine. In 2014, Segal was awarded the WCR Golden Bowl Award at the 2014 Women Chefs & Restaurateurs Conference, recognizing her excellence in baking and pastry arts and for her tremendous efforts to inspire others in her field. In 2008, 2009 and 2010 she was recognized for her commitment to sustainability as guest chef for Outstanding in the Field. Segal was named Share Our Strength’s 2009 Chef of the Year for her dedication to Taste of the Nation, the country’s premier culinary benefit dedicated to ending childhood hunger with events in more than 45 cities across the U.S. and Canada. She served as a national spokesperson for Whole Foods Market in 2010, an ambassador for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and a spokesperson for the Idaho Potato Commission. Mindy has been called “Sugar Fiend of the Year” by Alan Richman of GQ and her Chicago restaurant, HotChocolate was named one of the best breakfast spots in the country in the William Sonoma Breakfasts Comforts Cookbook, as well as one of the best savory spots in America by USA Today. Most recently, Chef Segal appeared on The Today Show, The Martha Stewart Show, The Food Network, The Cooking Channel and First Look. Her work has been featured in O Magazine, GQ, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, CHOW.com, Bon Appétit, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Photo taken by Jon Shaft
 


On April 21, our anniversary show, storytellers shared their traveling tales for this month’s theme, “Around the World”. Featured performers were Paulette McDaniels, Jeff Miller, Robyn Okrant, JH Palmer, Bill Hillmann, Karen Shimmon and Mark Schab.

Paulette McDanielsPaulette McDaniels has more then 25 years of experience in the arts. She has worked as an actor on stage and in film, and is a member of Actor’s Equity, SAG, and AFTRA. She shares the BTAA award for best actress with Felicia Fields. She is also the author of ‘A Deathly Silence’ commissioned by the Department of Health and Human for World AIDS day. As well as a PSA to be used in Middle and High Schools on the effects of HIV on young women world wide for the Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. McDaniels has served as a community organizer in the Middle East, Europe and America. The grandmother of two she studied at Northwestern University and Yorkshire College in the UK. She is co-author of Achmed’s Return: Legend of the Lost City, and is currently working on a Christian comedy 10 Plagues.

Jeff MillerJeff Miller is an expert-level jaywalker from Kent, Ohio. His first middle grade fiction novel, The Nerdy Dozen, will be out in June.

 
 
 

RobynOkrantRobyn Okrant is an actress, author & yoga teacher. She has appeared on the Today Show, CNBC’s The Oprah Effect, The Bonnie Hunt Show, The Joy Behar Show, and NPR’s All Things Considered. Her book, LIVING OPRAH: My One Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk, was published in the US, UK, Australia and oddly enough, Portugal. She’s spun yarns at 2nd Story, Fillet of Solo, Women’s Funny Fest, The Paper Machete, This Much is True, Essay Fiesta, Interface 2.0, Skald, Tales of Adventure, and The Women in Comedy Festival. Robyn holds an MFA in performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

JH PalmerJH Palmer co-produces the monthly live lit show That’s All She Wrote, which takes place on the second Sunday of every month at The Savoy, 1408 N. Milwaukee Ave. She is pursuing her MFA in creative writing at Columbia College Chicago, and has performed at live lit and storytelling venues in Michigan, Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston, and NYC.

 
Bill HillmannBill Hillmann is an award-winning writer and storyteller from Chicago. His writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Newcity, Chicago Reader, Salon.com, and has been broadcast on NPR. He’s told stories around the world with his internationally acclaimed storytelling series the “Windy City Story Slam.” Hillmann is a union construction laborer and a bull runner in Spain, who in the not-so-distant past was a feared street brawler, gang affiliate, drug dealer, convict, and Chicago Golden Glove Champion.

His debut novel The Old Neighborhood has received wide acclaim from The Chicago Tribune, The Reader and Booklist.

Karen ShimminKaren Shimmin is the co-host of All Write Already!, the “completely unpretentious” literary podcast. Karen also co-hosts and co-produces Essay Fiesta, a monthly live lit show, which takes place at the Book Cellar on the third Monday of each month. (For anyone who has trouble keeping track of Mondays, the next one is May 19). Karen graduated from Northwestern’s creative writing and theatre programs and has performed around the city.

March SchabMark Schab is a lifelong Chicagoan and has been writing (or making things up, at the very least) since his arrival in that great city. He is the author of a travel & food blog “Kiss My France”, as well as a Jeff Award winning actor for his work with Trapdoor Theatre. He has spent the past two years co-authoring the adventure of being a husband and parent of twins. All his love and gratitude to those fine people for the stories they have given him.


On March 16, 2014, we heard triumphant tales sharing the theme, “Phoenix Rising” from featured performers, Arlene Malinowski, Jen Bosworth, Dave Stinton, Lindsay Porter, Cristie Chamberland, Greg Poljacik and Andy Kerns.

ArleneMalinowskiArlene Malinowski is a playwright, actor, social activist whose award-winning solo shows have been produced nationally and abroad. Her newest solo show “A Little Bit Not Normal” is part of her 5-year initiative to become part of the conversation around mental illness. She teaches writing at Chicago Dramatists and coaches writers privately. She is to her knowledge, the only actor to appear both in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure AND Doogie Howser and in the same 24 hours.

AndyKernsAndy Kerns is an up-and-coming something or other, and a writer. He has dabbled in screenwriting, social satire, sketch comedy, short fiction and storytelling, but his preferred genre is emotionally exposed emails about the trials of modern manhood, sent to his younger sisters. He lives in Chicagoland with his dream to one day live in Chicagoland with a dog.

LindsayPorterLindsay Porter has been writing, acting, directing and teaching in Chicago for over 20 years. Her plays and monologues have been performed at Trap Door, Chicago Dramatists, Organic, Tellin’ Tales, Running with Scissors, and Collaboraction in Chicago and at Live Girls in Seattle and Riverside Theatre in Iowa. She currently teaches creative writing and acting at the Lake County Jail. She recently appeared as a hidden camera performer on the Steve Harvey talk show, where she gave an unsuspecting woman a very bad manicure. Lindsay lives in Chicago with her husband, son and Kurt’s kidney—she is grateful for all of them.

DaveStintonDave Stinton has been writing and performing in Chicago for 16 years, with plays produced at WNEP theatre and the New York International Fringe Festival. He’s a past winner of Write Club and the Skald, and as a comedian he has performed at Just For Laughs Chicago and is a cast member of 100 Proof Comedy.
 
 

JenBosworthJen Bosworth is a writer and performer from Evanston. She is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University and has appeared on television and the stages of Chicago’s lovely theaters. Jen’s solo show, “Why Not Me…Love, Cancer and Jack White” is on tour and has enjoyed critically acclaimed runs both here in Chicago and In New York City as part of The NY International Fringe Festival. Jen is an Artist in Residence at Midwest Palliative and Hospice CareCenter where she teaches workshops on Healing through Writing.

GregPoljacikCurrently, Greg Poljacik teaches stage combat at The Second City Training Center, The International Stunt School, works as a Sword Cutler, providing the best stage weapons in the industry, and owns his own business selling Blood Jam, the only stage blood that looks real, washes out of clothes and skin with hot water and is safe to eat. All of his work follows the principles of “Safety, Story, Substance.”

CristieChamberlandCristie Chamberland moved to Chicago from Portland, Oregon this January 1st so she could experience what a “real” winter was like. After living in various cities and islands of and off the West Coast for over 20 years she thought she had softened like butter left in the sun and needed to man-the-hell-up. Chicago seemed the place to do it. Cristie has been performing in her friends’ living rooms, her shower, and her car for years and is ready to finally take it to the stage. She has also performed with Portland Story Theater. She is currently taking classes in improv, comedy writing, and voice over at Second City and solo show performance with Arlene Malinowski where she is working on a full-length show. She has worked for many years with adults with disabilities, has taught creative writing / tutored kids in reading, and is training to be a Dancing Freedom Facilitator and Whole Speak Coach to assist others in becoming more empowered and potent public speakers and to connect with their body’s vitality.


On February 16, 2014, we extended Valentines Day with our “Love is…” themed show. Featured storytellers were:

jeremy_owensJeremy Owens is the creator and producer of You’re Being Ridiculous. He has told stories with Lifeline Theatre’s Filet of Solo Festival, Story Club, Guts & Glory, Solo in the 2nd City and The Paper Machete. He’s a food writer for Oy Chicago and Gapers Block and wants to be Whoopi Goldberg when he grows up.

 
 
kate_jamesKate James is a founding member of the Chicago sketch comedy group Schadenfreude. Schadenfreude has performed live on stages in Chicago and around the world, and had a radio show on WBEZ (NPR) Chicago for 2 years. Kate is also a writer and performer with The Second City and most recently co-wrote ‘The Second City’s Guide To The Opera’ (featuring Patrick Stewart & Renee Fleming), in conjunction with Lyric Opera Chicago. A few years ago she made a video that went viral about a drunk Cubs fan, and now she often has to explain to strangers that “she is not really that woman” and “she is not drunk right now”.

scott_smithScott Smith grew up in the suburbs of Chicago before moving into the city proper in 1998. He’s spent the years since as a tech support rep, a social worker, a writer, a marketer and a scotch drinker. He lives on the South Side with his wife and daughter. He can be found on Twitter at @ourmaninchicago and ourmaninchicago.net where he is probably pissed about something or other.

barrie_coleBarrie Cole is a writer, playwright, and performer. Her newest play, “Elevator Tours,” which had it’s premiere last month was called an “unmitigated triumph of perversity,” by Tony Adler of the Chicago Reader. She has read and performed her work at Solo in the City, Essay Fiesta, Write Club, Guts and Glory, Fillet of Solo, That’s All She Wrote, The Paper Machete, and at many other live lit events throughout the city. Her collection of short works, “Fascinating Mistakes” is almost complete and she is thrilled to read about some of these mistakes at Story Sessions. She believes that love mistakes are the most fascinating kinds of mistakes there are.

eileen_doughartyEileen Dougharty got into storytelling in an attempt to find fun Chicago friends, and subsequently found herself. She was recently chosen to attend the Praiano Writer’s Conference, where she will combine her love of stories, pasta, and wine on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Eileen has never missed a Story Sessions event, and is honored to be part of the February show at City Winery.
 

sarah_hollenbeckSarah Michael Hollenbeck is an award-winning writer whose personal essays have been published in Triquarterly and Dogwood among other literary journals and blogs. She has performed at Guts & Glory, The Bodies of Work Festival, That’s All She Wrote and Story Clubs North and South. You can become better acquainted with her at her website. She is presently ignoring Andrew as he impersonates a raptor in his underwear.

andrew_marikisAndrew Marikis is an actor, teaching artist, and the host of Story Club South Side. As an actor he’s worked with Seanachai, BoHo, Lifeline and The Artistic Home among others. He is a teaching artist he works with Emerald City and Adventure Stage Chicago Theatres. He’s also really into dinosaurs. Like a lot.


On January 11th, Story Sessions was part of the annual Fillet of Solo festival at Lifeline Theatre. Five storytellers shared a tale from a past job for our “Work It” themed show.

John HahmA native of Honolulu, Hawaii, John Hahm happily calls Chicago his home these days. He loves teaching British Literature, and AP English courses in rhetorical analysis, and creative writing, at Northside College Preparatory High School. He thanks Jill Howe, Sheri Reda, Barrie Cole and other the phenomenal writers of Friends with Words for their encouragement, and for giving him a community of artists to live, move, and have his being in. And he’s glad his kids Josh and Leah can swim the length of a swimming pool underwater now. It’s a Hahm thing.

Shawn CobbBy day, Shawn Cobb braves the elements as a railroad mechanic here in Chicago, while by night, he is an aspiring author, illustrator, and graphic designer who has already written his first science fiction novel, Peripheral Conflict. But it was through Toastmasters, and his desire to become a better public speaker that deepened his passion for storytelling and connecting with audiences on a more intimate level.

Eric Charles MayEric Charles May is an associate professor of Fiction Writing at Columbia College Chicago. A Chicago native and former reporter for The Washington Post, his fiction has appeared in the magazines Fish Stories, F, and Criminal Class Review. In addition to his Post reporting, his nonfiction has appeared in Sport Literate, the Chicago Tribune, and the personal essay anthology, Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck. He’s read and performed at several Chicago area story series including 2nd Story, Grown Folks’ Stories, Here’s the Story, and That’s All She Wrote. His first novel, Bedrock Faith, is scheduled to be published March 4th by Akashic Books.

Jennifer Ann CoffeenJennifer Ann Coffeen is a romance novelist, Live Lit performer, and teacher at StoryStudio Chicago. Her latest regency romance, A Deal with Lord Devlin was released in August 2013. Check out her website for more information.
 
 
 

John LendmanThis is John Lendman‘s first public reading and introduction to the storytelling scene. John’s been published in the Chicago Tribune, the RedEye and the Windy City Times, and volunteers at 826 Chicago as a tutor and at 826’s Boring Store in Wicker Park.


On October 27th, eight performers shared personal stories inspired by the theme, “Into the Darkness”.

LynneJordanThis lady can sing it all and she does so with such power and ability that she captures every soul in the house. Lynne Jordan is a skilled songstress and a riveting performer. And because of her incredible talent she has attracted some of the best musicians working today. On October 27th, she’ll weave together soulful, wholehearted storytelling and song. Find out more at lynnejordan.com.

KareemKhubchandaniKareem Khubchandani is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at Northwestern University researching gay nightlife in India and the South Asian diaspora. He has performed with Eye on India’s Story Exchange (2013), Serendipity Theatre’s 2nd Story (2009-2013), Rasaka Theatre’s Bombay In My Soul (2011), and About Face Theatre’s The Homo Show (2009). Kareem has choreographed for Rasaka Theatre, Trikone-Chicago, and Northwestern’s A.NU.Bhav, and he performs in drag as LaWhore Vagistan. Most recently, he has been touring his solo show Lessons In Drag. Find him on Twitter [@KareemPuff], YouTube [KKhubcha], or Facebook [DesiDragQueen].

DeannaMoffittDeanna Moffitt has worked with famed comedy theaters The Second City Theatricals, iO Theater, and ComedySportz. She has also performed with Essay Fiesta, Story Club, Here’s the Story, and Paper Machete and co-founded This Much is True. Her voice can be heard on TV, radio and the web for companies such as Walmart, Keystone for Lowes, Airwick, Farmland, and many others. She has narrated six audio books currently available on Audible.com, But her favorite work is hosting the Story Sessions live show and podcast. Thanks Jill and Rachael! Find her at deannamoffitt.com.

EricWarnerEric Warner has told stories with This Much is True, 2nd Story, Broken Nose Theatre, You’re Being Ridiculous and his monologues have been in Lifeline Theatre’s Fillet of Solo Festival and the St. Louis Fringe Festival, where a reviewer said he sounds like “Ira Glass on fast forward.” His stories have been called “funny and sad, pitiful and exuberant”. He has taught writing, theatre & art in many Chicago schools, is a workshop facilitator for the Neighborhood Writing Alliance.

LisaScottLisa Scott is a Chicago-based storyteller and playwright. As a storyteller, she has performed at Here’s The Story, This Much Is True, and Small Fish Radio Theatre. Her play, Tell Me When It Hurts, will receive its first run this November/December as part of Three Cat Productions’ season of new works. Her play-in-progress, La Familia Dune, was part of Three Cat’s 2013 Chicago New Work Festival. Scott is a Network Playwright with Chicago Dramatists and a graduate of Northwestern University.

JudiGoshenJudi Goshen is thrilled to be back in Chicago’s Story Telling Scene. After writing and performing a one-woman show in Los Angeles, she loves being a member of this talented group. The LA show, Fornicationally Challenged, was directed by Mark Travis and RECOMMENDED by the LA Times and several other local papers. Judi is best known in the industry as a commercial actress for such products as; Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, Bissell, McDonalds, True Value, Budweiser, PediaCare, American Airlines and many more.

ShayDeGrandisShay DeGrandis is one fickle bitch. One day she’s an artist. The next, she would rather be a writer. The day after that, she hates words (or thinks they hate her) and has gone back to being an artist again. Sometimes she likes to pretend she lives in another century, reenacting Chicago historical events with the Pocket Guide to Hell whenever they give her the chance. Every weekday she works as an administrator at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, her only consistency, having been at it for 17 years. Although not award-winning, and only slightly-acclaimed, she produces and hosts the Chicago edition of Mortified, a comedy show of “personal redemption through public humiliation.” Helping performers bring to light their most awkward adolescent writing, she persuades them to share their shame with strangers. She thinks it’s good to expose yourself. See and hear her work at shaydegrandis.com.

WillyNastWilly Nast is from Aurora, Illinois, and yes, he has seen the movie Wayne’s World an astounding number of times. Willy co-hosts a “completely unpretentious” literary podcast called All Write Already!, as well as the monthly reading series Essay Fiesta at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. You can find out more about what Willy is writing and where he’ll be reading at willynast.com.

Dog1BluegrassMusical guest, Dog 1, is based in the roots of traditional bluegrass music while pushing the boundaries and incorporating other styles into their sound. They believe good music is also good storytelling, and that’s why they start every Story Sessions. Find out more at dog1bluegrass.com.

 


On September 22nd, we’re in for animal adventures with our “Creature Comforts” show. Featured performers are Jason Smith, Dorrie Ferguson, Lisa Holmes, Rachael Smith, Maia Morgan, Kendra Stevens and Reggie Eldridge.

JasonSmithJason Paul Smith is a Chicago-based theater artist specializing in new play development and revitalization of classic works. As a freelance director and as artistic director of Three Cat Productions, Smith is committed to fostering the growth of artists of all backgrounds and perspectives. In 2007, Smith founded Three Cat Productions with the mission of fostering artists, initially through storytelling and cabaret and subsequently theater education. In 2013, he expanded Three Cat’s commitment to its mission with three major development-oriented programs, the annual Chicago New Work Festival for full-length plays and musicals, the annual SOLO Chicago festival for storytelling, and the Cabaret on the Lake series. Three Cat will hold its first full production season in 2013-14 with three new works by Chicago-based playwrights, all directed by Smith. A University of Minnesota graduate, Smith has directed theater, cabaret and concerts across the country, including musicals The Stops, Hello Dolly! and Sunday in the Park with George, and well-known plays such as The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. Smith also is an award-winning storyteller and solo performer. He received a Ragdale Residency in 2008.

DorrieFergusonDorrie Ferguson has a deep love of stories and their ability to create connections and heal. She has been storytelling in Chicago for the past six years, is a regular improviser at The Playground Theatre, and was a founding member of This Much is True. One of her favorite experiences was teaching storytelling to at-risk teens through Camp of Dreams. Dorrie is currently using the power of storytelling to conduct research for her dissertation in clinical psychology. She is collecting stories from couples who have experienced cancer and used humor as a coping mechanism.

LisaHolmesAdvertising copywriter by day, fictional writer by night. Lisa Holmes‘ essays have appeared in the literary journal “After Hours,” on Chicago Public Radio WBEZ, Radio M, and on her own blog, whimsycity.com. Her plays have been performed on stages in Chicago and New York. She was awarded a Richard H. Driehaus grant for her play, “Summer Solstice,” and recently won the Fine Print Theatre Citizen’s New Play Festival with her play, “Transient’s Welcome.” In her spare time, she runs STOP TRAFFICK, a non-profit organization that she co-founded in 2009 to help fight against human trafficking. She lives with her husband and two feisty dachshunds in Chicago.

RachaelSmithA Chicago native, Rachael Smith spends her days writing copy for the National Safety Council and her nights, writing stories on the existentialism of dating, hot dogs and Costco. Rachael has performed at Story Lab, That’s All She Wrote, Lady Tales and at various open mics around the city. Co-producing Story Sessions is the perfect way for Rachael to marry her love of art, design and literature with her mom instinct to host gatherings and feed people. She is also currently writing her first novel, Forever Maybe.

MaiaMorganMaia Morgan has been a poet, a playwright and a monologist and has created dozens of original performances with participants in schools, health care facilities and jails. Her essays have been published in Creative Nonfiction and Glamour, and she’s currently finishing her first book, The Saltwater Twin and Other Mythical Creatures. She blogs about writing, teaching, memory, road trips and dogs at thesaltwatertwin.com

KendraStevensKendra Stevens is a Chicago-based writer, Live Lit performer, comic, rapper and (maybe?) obsessed pet owner. She has performed her original work with the kates and Beast Women since their inceptions, and has also been featured at Story Club (winning Audience Favorite Story December 2012), Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, Essay Fiesta, Tuesday Funk, The Funny Story Show, among others. She is also one-fourth of Chicago’s All-Female Beastie Boys Tribute, She’s Crafty, spitting rhymes as Ken D. Find her at www.kendrastevens.com and follow her @kendra_stevens.

ReggieEldgridgeReggie Eldridge is an internationally acclaimed performance poet, author, painter, experienced university instructor, and community organizer on a mission to make the world a better place. A self-proclaimed “dreamer,” Eldridge has toured the United States and beyond as a speaker, performer and organizer of slam poetry and spoken word events, and appears on season three of the NAACP Image Award-nominated television series, Verses and Flow. He is currently performs, teaches, and co-facilitates workshops with a variety of organizations, including the University of Chicago’s South Side Stories project, and Chicago Slam Works, Inc., a nonprofit organization that utilizes the craft of spoken word and slam poetry to teach young people how to examine and express their experiences and identities. Hailed from a young age as a vessel for his community’s voices, Eldridge has molded a career that combines methods of exploration, scholarship and deep thought with the practice of creativity. It is his mission to demonstrate that through these methods, communities can change from the inside out—and that by changing our communities, we can change our world.

 


On August 25th, we got “schooled” by these incredible storytellers:

HeatherSchwartzAs a middle school teacher, Heather Schwartz tells stories everyday. She loves the smell of new books, the Steppenwolf Theater, dance parties and conversations with kids. She is excited and grateful that Jill has drawn her into the Chicago lit scene. This is her first time telling a story to adults in a bar. Well. Sort of.

DarwynJonesDarwyn Jones’ fiction has appeared in Windy City Times, Hair Trigger, and the anthologies, SIN and Grimm and Grimmer. His more blurby writings have found their way into Chicago’s entertainment website metromix.com and the Not For Tourists Guidebook to Chicago. He happily reads at many Chicago storytelling series including 2nd Story, Reading Under Influence (RUI), and You’re Being Ridiculous.

ArleneMalinowskiArlene Malinowski is an actor/playwright whose award-winning solo shows have been produced nationally and abroad. Her new solo show “A Little Bit Not Normal” A serious comedy about Depression will be produced in 2014. She teaches writing at Chicago Dramatists and coaches privately. She is to her knowledge, the only actor to appear both in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure AND Doogie Howser and in the same 24 hours.

Linda MontgomeryAfter 5 long, lonely years in Chicago with very few friends and even fewer creative outlets, Linda Montgomery discovered and fell in love with the Chicago Live Literature Community. She was so nervous at her first writing class with Arlene Malinowski that she burst into tears the moment Arlene opened the door and said hello! Arlene’s response was “Oh honey…you got hormones!” Linda’s boyfriend Dan will confirm that this is a true statement.

She is so grateful to be in a supportive community of goofballs like herself who encourage her to write when she doesn’t think she can and push her to be more than she ever hoped she could be! Tonight she will be reading her story titled “The Agony & the Ecstasy”.

shannoncasonShannon Cason is a writer and award-winning storyteller. He has shared his stories on large stages, dive bars, and small living rooms. Shannon is a Moth GrandSLAM champion; a contributor to NPR’s Snap Judgment; and hosts his own storytelling podcast called Homemade Stories. He is originally from Detroit.

 
 
mollymeachamMolly Meacham is a proud Chicago Public School teacher and slam poet. She has performed several times in Germany with the Speak’Easy Ensemble directed by slam poetry founder, Marc Smith. She also co-wrote and performed a commercial for the Big Ten. She has had poems published with journals including Anderbo.com, The Foundling Review, The New Verse News, and Right Hand Pointing. She co-edited Write Bloody’s Learn Then Burn Teachers Edition.

Stephanie-RogersStephanie Rogers has been toying with the idea of a solo show for about 22 years. This is her second time telling and she is thrilling. Check out all she’s into at hipchick.com.
 
 
 


The seventh month of the year brings seven stories! The July 21st show explores the catchphrase, “Fake it ’til you make it.” Storytellers are Ellen Blum Barish, David Boyle, Marty McConnell, Kevin Gladish, Debbi Welch, Mike Manship and Colonel Jill Morgenthaler.

MartyMcconnellMarty McConnell transplanted herself from Chicago to New York City in 1999, after completing the first of three national tours with the Morrigan, an all-female performance poetry troupe she co-founded. She received her MFA in creative writing/poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and for nearly a decade, co-curated the flagship reading series of the New York City-based louderARTS Project. She appeared on both the second and fifth seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. She returned to Chicago in 2009 to co-found Vox Ferus, an organization dedicated to empowering and energizing individuals and communities through the written and spoken word. She has performed and facilitated workshops at schools and festivals around the country, including The Dodge Poetry Festival, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Wicker Park Arts Festival, Connecticut Poetry Festival, Cornell University, University of Utah, James Madison University, Old Dominion, University of Connecticut, University of Arkansas, DePaul University, and more. She now lives in Chicago, and travels the country performing and leading workshops.

EllenBlumBarishEllen Blum Barish has been sharing family secrets through personal essays since the mid 1990s when she began writing a syndicated monthly column for an Ohio-based newspaper. So far, no family members have asked for emancipation nor has she felt the need for witness protection. But there’s still time for that. Her book of essays, Views from the Home Office Window: On Motherhood, Family and Life, based on her award-winning newspaper columns were published in 2007 and you can read more about it here. Ellen’s essays have appeared in The Chicago Tribune, North Shore Magazine, Literary Mama, her blog about writing “Open Window” and many of her essays have aired on WBEZ: Chicago Public Radio. She teaches writing at Northwestern University, essay classes at StoryStudio Chicago, has led non-fiction writing workshops at Ragdale and Off Campus Writers Workshop and works privately with writers on creative, academic or business writing projects. Learn more at ellenblumbarish.com.

DavidBoyleDavid Boyle has performed at Story Lab Chicago, This Much Is True, Essay Fiesta, Ragdale Ring Summer Series and is artistic director of Chicago Solo Theatre where he hosts Solo Saturdays on the 2nd Saturday of the month at 1550 S. State. He performed his most recent full-length solo play “You Don’t Have To Be A Whore” for Three Cat Productions’ SOLO Chicago Festival in June. His 2010 solo play “An Accidental Organist” was recommended by the Chicago Reader’s Tony Adler who wrote “The piece as a whole is a well-wrought mix of wit, cussedness, close observation and earned emotion.”

DebbiWelchDebbi Welch has performed at Story Lab, featured at This Much is True – and will be a feature at Here’s The Story in August. She’s completed a picture book which she’s now sending out to publishers – and is painfully hard at work on a middle grade novel. Debbi’s the president of the board of Young Chicago Authors – a 22 year old non-profit which offers free weekly programming, workshops and in-school residencies throughout Chicagoland. It’s also the home of Louder Than a Bomb, the largest youth poetry festival in the world.

KevinGladishKevin Gladish is thrilled to make his debut with Story Sessions. Originally from Cleveland, OH, Kevin came to Chicago to act in plays. He has been seen with The Artistic Home, City Lit, Griffin, Steep, WNEP, Timeline, and Stage Left, among others. As a storyteller, he has performed at such venues as This Much Is True, Story Lab, Story Club, and Adult Education: Storytelling After Hours at the Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, Michigan. He most recently performed at the side project’s Choosing to Be Here Storytelling festival and is also a Moth Story Slam winner & Chicago Moth Grand Slam runner up. He thanks the amazingly talented team of Jill and Rachael for this opportunity, as well as his family and friends for all their love and raw storytelling material.

ColonelJillMorgenthallerRetired Army Colonel Jill Morgenthaler is an internationally recognized raconteur. Twice at Toastmaster International’s Chicago District, she has won the International Speech Contest and once the Humorous Speech Contest. Earlier this year she was honored to give a TED talk. As a gifted storyteller, she has given workshops and trained professional speakers in the art of the story. Today, Colonel Jill is a professional speaker addressing thousands of women and men on secrets to lead and succeed.

Colonel Jill is a woman of many firsts. She was one of the first women to enter ROTC and to train as an equal with men. She was the first female company commander in the Army Security Agency Group Korea; she was the first woman battalion commander in the 88th Regional Support Command; and she was the first woman brigade commander in the 84th Division, commanding hundreds of Soldiers across six states. In Illinois, she was the first woman to lead homeland security. “Learn, laugh and leave with one Ah Ha!” is her method of speaking. Check the colonel out at coloneljill.com.

MikeManshipMike Manship is a playwright, novelist, actor, and storyteller originally from Raleigh, NC. His first novel, Cambridge Street, is available (and well-reviewed!) on amazon.com. His second book, Off Track, which follows his vegetable-oil-powered trek across the U.S., is due out within the year. He is online at jmmanship.com


We’ve got double vision for the JUNE 30th show. Four dynamic duos hit the stage for a night of tandem storytelling.

Greg_DeniseDenise Santomauro and Greg Poljacik met in college doing a ridiculous play that involved many lewd acts. Obviously love followed. In their 11 years as a couple, they have lived in three cities together, been cast in five plays together, owned zero pets together (sadly), and survived Greg nearly dying three times. When not annoying family and friends with quotes from Arrested Development and Anchorman, Denise writes and occasionally does some stage work, while Greg runs his company, Gravity and Momentum, which sells stage blood. Yup, stage blood. They want to thank Jill and Rachael for the opportunity to share their weirdness with drunk strangers.

AndyKernsAndy Kerns is an up-and-coming something or other, and a writer. He has dabbled in screenwriting, social satire, sketch comedy, short fiction and storytelling, but his preferred genre is emotionally exposed emails about the trials of modern manhood, sent to his younger sisters. He lives in Chicagoland with his dream to one day live in Chicagoland with a dog. Follow him on Twitter @AndyLarryKernsy

LarryKernsReal-life psychiatrist and Moth StorySLAM winner, Lawrence Kerns, M.D., is a graduate of Yale College, the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and Northwestern University’s Institute of Psychiatry. A practicing child psychiatrist, when he turned fifty he took up creative writing and performance. Kerns studied Creative Writing and Solo Performance at Northwestern University, University of Chicago Graham School, the Actor’s Centre, and Act One Studio.

DaveStintonDave Stinton has been writing and performing in Chicago for fifteen years, with plays produced at WNEP Theater, the Bailiwick, EP Theater, and the New York International Fringe Festival. He’s a past winner of Write Club and of WNEP’s SKALD storytelling competition. As a standup comedian, he’s performed at Just For Laughs Chicago and opened for Dan Telfer, Kelsie Huff, Adam Burke, and Amanda Rountree.

JenEllisonJen Ellison has been performing, writing and directing throughout Chicago with WNEP, The Mammals, Trap Door Theatre, Collaboraction, The Neo-Futurists, and Theatre Seven. She has told stories at Write Club, Essay Fiesta, This Much is True and Here’s the Story. Currently, Jen teaches Ethics at DePaul, Comedy Studies at Columbia College and is a director for the National Touring Company of the Second City.

RobynOkrantRobyn Okrant is an actress, author & yoga teacher. She has appeared on the Today Show, CNBC’s The Oprah Effect, The Bonnie Hunt Show, The Joy Behar Show, and NPR’s All Things Considered. Her book, LIVING OPRAH: My One Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk, was published in the US, UK, Australia and oddly enough, Portugal. She’s spun yarns at 2nd Story, Fillet of Solo, Women’s Funny Fest, The Paper Machete, This Much is True, Essay Fiesta, Interface 2.0, Skald, Tales of Adventure, and The Women in Comedy Festival. Robyn holds an MFA in performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

JimStevensJim Stevens studied theater and film in Chicago and Paris, and has written and directed work that has been seen at festivals around the country. He has performed stories at 2nd Story, Essay Fiesta, That’s All She Wrote, This Much Is True and Story Lab Chicago. Jim is also the General Manager for an art tile manufacturer and is still bragging about the Most Improved Bowler trophy he received at the age of 11.


MAY 23 storytellers piqued our curiosity with the theme “Family Secrets”

DennisFrymireDennis Frymire has called Chicago his home since 2006, but he was born and raised in the small Southern Illinois town of Carmi. He has had the pleasure of telling stories at several of the city’s live lit events, including Essay Fiesta, Guts & Glory, Story Club, This Much Is True, and he is a previous three time winner of The Moth’s Story SLAM. Many of his stories harken back to his experiences growing up in a small rural town. In 2010 and 2011, Dennis wrote and posted online a piece of flash fiction for 397 consecutive days.  One day, he’ll get around to putting some of those out in a publication. Meanwhile, Dennis also performs in plays on occasion. His next is with Genesis Ensemble, a partially-devised opera about Appalachian migrants in 1950s Uptown Chicago. His character’s name is Carmi.

JannaSobelJanna Sobel is a writer, performer and director.  She also teaches these things to adults and young people at The Second City training center, The University of Chicago Lab School, Mudlark Theater Company, and the Old Town School of Folk Music.  She is the co-founder and co-host of Here’s the Story, and a company member of Real Talk Live.  Janna is currently working on a solo show called Wonderful, about birds who come to the front door during high fevers, and strangers with messages on cross-country trains. You can see her work at www.jannasobel.com.

matt-millerOriginally from Kent, Ohio, Matt Miller is a Chicago based director, teacher, and long-suffering Indians fan. His stories have been heard at The Moth (Story Slam Winner, February 2010), Essay Fiesta, Write Club!, and 2nd Story where he is an emeritus company member. He is the co-creator with the The Katydids of the web series Teachers that The Onion released earlier this year. You can stalk him appropriately at: www.mattmillerdirect.com

SheriRedaSheri Reda is a writer, editor, performer, life-cycle celebrant—and most of all, a storyteller. She’s performed all around town, and you might have seen her recently at This Much Is True, That’s All She Wrote, The Funny Story Show… she’ll be at Reading Under the Influence this June. Sheri is passionate about words, trees, organic food and farming, her friends, her family…let’s just call her passionate.

StephenMarkleyStephen Markley is the author of the memoir “Publish This Book: The Unbelievable True Story of How I Wrote, Sold, and Published This Very Book” and the digital short “The Great Dysmorphia: An Epistemological View of Ingesting Hallucinogenic Mushrooms at a 2012 Republican Presidential Debate.” In addition to serving as a columnist for Chicago’s RedEye, his work has appeared in The Chicago Reader, The Rumpus, Perceptive Travel, and he blogs at RedEye’s Off the Markley. His latest “Tales of Iceland,” debuted this month.

Natasha-TsoutsourisNatasha Tsoutsouris is a Chicago based writer and performer. Her solo show, “Tashie’s Choice”, is currently running every Friday in May at Stage 773.
 
 
 



APRIL 21 storytellers shared tales with the theme “Beginnings”

BarrieColeBarrie Cole is a writer, playwright, and performer. She has read pieces at Essay Fiesta, That’s All She Wrote, Paper Machete, Homolatte, Guts and Glory, Ray’s Tap Reading Series and many others. She is completing a collection of stories entitled “Fascinating Mistakes,” and is thrilled that her newest play, Clumsy Sublime will have a full production and premiere this coming fall at the Prop Theatre.

ConorCunneenConor Cunneen is an Irishman happily exiled in Naperville, where he says the Guinness is good, the natives are friendly and he has been force-fed more corned beef than he ever had in Ireland. He is also a man with the gift of gab, winding evocative imagery and hilarious stories that will have either have you crying sorrowful tears into your pint of Guinness or else leave you with a spring in your step, a smile on your face a beat in your heart (that’s a very good thing)!

EileenDoughartyEileen Dougharty decided four years ago that the best way to combat an impending midlife crisis was to move to Chicago and start living like it’s eternally the first day of Shark Week.  After a brief stint penning sketch comedy, she started writing her more colorful memories to share with others.  She is appreciative that the Windy City is populated with  passionate straight talkers who are also willing to listen.

DavidStuartMacleanDavid Stuart MacLean is a PEN/American award-winning essayist, whose work has appeared in Ploughshares, Guernica, Better, Gulf Coast, and This American Life. He has a PhD from the University of Houston and was a Fulbright Scholar in India. He co-founded the popular Poison Pen Reading Series in Houston, TX. His memoir The Answer to the Riddle is Me will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in January 2014.

TomWolfermanAt an early age, Tom Wolferman discovered he could not draw, sing, dance or perform an ankle hang on gym class trapeze rings. So he wrote. As a copywriter, Tom has written about surgeon’s gloves, cat litter, cement, pinball machines, overpowering fragrances for men and snowmobile suits for women. He also has shared stories in bars, book stores and within weenie roasting reach of a crackling fire. Once he masters the trapeze ankle hang, Tom hopes to open for Pink.

FarazHussainBefore falling into his current career as a rehabilitation counselor in training, Faraz Hussain spent years of long nights as a molecular biochemistry major in poorly-lit labs doing wet work with nary a lab rat for company. When the opportunity to work with a lab partner of another species arose, he couldn’t resist…

 
 

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