Randy L. Estes grew up in Fisher, a small farm town in East-Central Illinois, about 20 miles NW of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. If anyone has ever heard of Fisher, it is because its high school mascot is, "the bunnies". Randy earned his Bachelor & Master's degrees from UIUC in Agriculture Education-Horticulture with a minor in Botany, and Extension Education-Adult Education and Program Development, respectively. He started, owned, and operated a retail florist business in his hometown of Fisher. Randy was a professional in Continuing Medical Education (CME) for physicians for over 20 years, having worked for a variety of settings including: Medical School, Community Teaching Hospitals, Medical Education Companies and multi-hospital systems. In 2010, Randy made a major life shift and began school to become a Licensed Clinical Massage Therapist. The major defining and life altering event of Randy's life occurred on October 16, 2010, when the neighbor living below him in his vintage Chicago 6 flat co op started what would become a 5 Alarm fire, destroying not only Randy's apartment, but nearly all of his life's possessions. Randy moved back to Fisher for over 3 and a half years to help care for his Mom with Alzheimer's. He currently serves as an Ambassador with the Illinois Alzheimer's Association, serving, with others as a liaison to our state and national legislative leaders in issues for persons afflicted by Alzheimer's and caregivers. Randy is convinced that he is the real-life gentile version of George Kastanza from TV's Seinfeld, and has myriad stories and witnesses and former psychotic neighbors to provide empirical evidence of the validity of this assertion.
Mariana is a performer, director, and theater educator based in Chicago. While teaching for various theater companies like The Goodman Theatre, American Theater Company, and Child's Play, she constantly contributes to theater projects with social justice aims on the management, devising, and facilitating levels. Currently she is Stage Managing for the Erasing the Distance production of Amygdala Rest (premiering February 11 & 12), Story Collecting for a devised performance of Thumbelina to be premiered at Lifeline Theater, and directing Punk Grandpa at Three Brothers' Theater in Waukegan. She is also a leadership team member of FEMelanin, group of self-identified femmes of color who wish to reclaim their voices and the voices of other femmes of color through the power of performance.
Sonja has a degree in theater from Ohio University, where she focused on being behind the scenes. She was lured to Chicago, a city she swore she'd never live in, for her MA from the University of Chicago in 2003. Life's been good to her here, so she never left. Instead, she escapes frequently for backpacking trips and trail runs to reconnect with nature.
Dan is a fresh face in Chicago's universe of story buffs. He began performing at open-mike venues last November after reading a Tribune feature about Chicago's network of story-tellers. A life-long city kid, Dan has been an eyewitness to, and sometime participant in the urban circus that is Chicago since the 1960s. For all of his lengthy work-life, he's held straight jobs including budget analyst and planner, technical writer, and CTA bus pilot. His favorite aroma is that of a freshly-tarred roof on a warm summer evening.
Maria Vorhis is a writer, performer, teaching artist, and human. She believes storytelling can save the world, and currently teaches drama to adults with developmental disabilities in Pilsen. She is planning a national fall tour of her one-woman show, "Are You There, George?" about a twelve year old girl's quest to find meaning...and boobs. www.mariavorhis.com
Brooke Whoolery hails from a very small town in Pennsylvania that you've definitely never heard of. When not hanging out with her cats or getting wickedly drunk on the weekends, she can be found reading, listening to various podcasts, or whipping up some delicious food for her friends. Brooke has been a performer nearly all of her life and often visits open mics around the city to showcase her lovely singing voice. She is also the front-woman of a soul/funk cover band, The Mashed Potatoes, which has been her main creative outlet for the past 4 years. Brooke likes to describes herself as an Oxford Dictionary in the streets and an Urban Dictionary in the sheets, which she makes very clear on her Tinder profile.
Melinda Croes is a transplant from small town Wisconsin. As a child, she devoted much of her time to reading stories. So much time, in fact, that her town named their summer reading program after her. Though her love of reading has waned, her interest in stories hasn't. Melinda spends her days as a Social Worker at a non-profit and her nights making soup and bread, and catering to the needs of her dog Maverick.
Lady of Laughs. Storyteller. City dweller. Know nto few as the darling of the Gluten Free movement of South Jersey. Been described as funny... no but seriously. Newish to Chicago by way of New York City and Philadelphia, Valerie DiMambro is just a girl standing front of an audience telling stories and asking them to love her. www.valeriedimambro.com
Ben Harpe is a writer and actor originally from Detroit. He performs with the improv group Devil's Daughter and the country music duo Peaches & Snakeskin.
Lee Melchior grew up in a small town on the Mississippi River, emigrated to Canada, lived briefly on the Caribbean Island of Saba, then returned to the states to work on Wall Street and later Madison Avenue. Now she lives in Evanston and works as a Third Life Coach. She’s an avid fly-fisherman.
Norma Gay Prewett
Norma Gay Prewett is the birthname and working artistic name of Gay Davidson-Zielske. As Robert Browning (or someone else--it is debated endlessly) once said when asked about the meaning of a poem, “ when that passage was written only God and Robert Browning understood it. Now, only God understands” The reason for her shape-shifting tendencies could be answered the same. Suffice to say that “Gay” has a rather unusual birth story in that she was born at home in the Ozarks and delivered into life by her great grandfather O.W. Woods, fortunately for her a real doctor. Flashing forward many years, Gay has lived about three separate lives-- as a full-fledged radical and hippie in several communes in Illinois and Minnesota; as an academic and poet/fiction writer and radio writer at the U of WI-Whitewater for thirty years; and in retirement in Chicago a singing, songwriting, guitar and harmonica student, oil painter, improv student, and now, perhaps, story-teller. Her slim volume of poems “The Perpetual Commotion of the Heart” was published in 2013 by Finishing Line Press. There are a few (dozen) copies left. She could probably hook you up with one.
Adora Wilson-Eye has minimal previous experience in oral storytelling, but does enjoy talking about herself, and also her mother was a public speaking professor, so she's hoping it'll be easy to catch up. Besides being interested in storytelling, Adora loves to knit, write, and work in many other visual mediums, and is by trade a producer in advertising. She loves connecting people, collaborating, and helping to build networks of artists. You can check out more about her at adorawilsoneye.com.
My name is Caitlin. I am an environmental consultant, hot dog connoisseur and aspiring vegetarian. I've spent 6 of the last 9 years of my life in Indiana for school. I try to spend as much time outdoors as possible. I currently live in Ravenswood with my fish, who is kind of like a dog.
Kristin Cass is a Chicago-based photographer. Her work is animated by her concern for social and human rights issues, both locally and globally. Trained as a lawyer, with a background in art history and design, Kristin advocates for other artists and the arts. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago. Her work has been shown locally in several venues, including the juried show "I Am Woman" in 2015. Kristin's work will again be shown during Chicago Artists Month this year. Kristin’s work includes portraits, landscapes, and travel photography from all over the world. You can find her work at kristin-cass.squarespace.com, on Facebook at Kristin Cass, and on Instagram at KristinCassPhotography
Kevin is a 25-year-old whose job title is so distressingly befitting of his Millennial generation that he's left it out of this bio. He enjoys exploring Chicago by foot, completing crossword puzzles, and finding humor in almost any situation, perhaps to a fault. Kevin holds a B.A. in Psychology and Political Science from St. Olaf College, a M.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University, and an impressive amount of student debt.
Joy Ellison is a writer, activist, and teacher - and the co-creator of the world's first Quaker fashion blog. They believe that storytelling is integral to healing, transformation, resistance, and survival. Their work has been published in Story Club Magazine, Chicago Literati, Racialicious, and Electronic Intifada. Joy is currently working on their first graphic novel, a timely, nonfiction account of the power of community set in a small Palestinian village called At-Tuwani. When not writing, Joy teaches college students to be rabble-rousers at DePaul University. Their work can be found at http://jmellison.ne
Diane Kastiel is a writer and storyteller from Chicago. She’s a three-time Moth StorySLAM winner whose work has been featured on NPR’s Moth Radio HourI and its podcast. Diane has told stories on stage at the Park West, Second City, Victory Gardens, Mayne Stage and Lifeline theaters. She’s also told stories in bars, around campfires, in women’s shelters, and in the basement of a tattoo parlor – basically wherever they are ears. When not storytelling, Diane does commercial writing for businesses, nonprofits, and – well, really anyone with a checkbook. Call today for a free estimate. Please
Turi Ryder has spent most of her working life telling stories where almost nobody can see her: on the radio. You may have heard her on Chicago’s WGN or WLS (AM or FM}. She has also offended people over the airwaves of KFI Los Angeles, “FreeFM” in New York and San Francisco, KSTP Minneapolis (where she was voted Best and Worst of the Twin Cities by the same entertainment weekly in the same year), and KIRO Seattle. After decades of hiding in a soundproof room, Turi has written a memoir, “She Said What?”, and is hoping that telling stories from it while looking in you in the eyes will force her to be nicer than she usually is.
Jeff Baltes is a recent transplant to Chicago, but is no stranger to the stage. In his native Ohio, he was a founding member of State of Play Improv and a frequent performer in the city’s storytelling scene. Not content to just take the spotlight, Jeff also served as Comedy Chair for the Columbus Independents’ Day Festival* for several years. Since moving to the Windy City in 2015, he has been featured in storytelling events around the city including Sunday Morning Stories, Death of the Cool, and I Shit You Not. *not to be confused with Independence Day**, the national holiday. **not to be confused with ‘Independence Day,’ the 1996 Will Smith blockbuster
Megan is originally from the fatal loins of Florida. She moved to Chicago 8 years ago to pursue acting. In May she's giving up city life and the hustle to go live among the trees in Portland, where she hopes to learn how to not kill her house plants.
Debra is a relative newbie to the Chicago story telling scene. After seeing a few master story tellers in action, she instantly fell in love with the craft and decided to jump in with both feet. As a life long student of watching humans "being", Debra quickly discovered that story telling is healing and transformative for both the story teller and the audience alike. When Debra is not on stage telling stories she is a Real Estate Broker, Clairvoyant Reader, Writer, and meditation teacher. Providing insight and guidance to clients around the world people Debra helps people heal and awaken to their own truth and spiritual gifts. By day you can find Debra working with her fabulous clients or clicking away at the keyboard writing. By night you can find Debra at various open mics around town, or at home snuggling with her gorgeous kitty.
Alex has lived in Chicago for ten years now, so she's not sure she can still claim that she's from New York. She is an MFA student in design, which means she gets to spend her days making books, drawing comics, and ignoring her monstrous debt. (Fingers crossed she gets a job next year.) Alex has been watching the X-Files for the first time. She is through season 2 and in love with Dana Scully.
Originally, from Chicago, now living in Hong Kong, Jeanne left her lucrative career in historic preservation to pursue a new one in storytelling, improvisation and writing. She has told stories, written and done improv in all sorts of places, some sanctioned, some not. Jeanne is a co-organizer of Hong Kong Storytellers. Most recently, her work has been featured in the Hong Kong’s Top Notch Storytelling Festival, Liar’s League, Mamagushi Shanghai, Literary Death Match and the Art’s House World Voices Presents. When not working, she enjoys travel, reading, kayaking, hiking and running, not necessarily in that order or at the same time.
Gail Steingold began her journey into the world of Improv in 2009. She has completing training programs at The Second City ,IO and Annoyance. She is the other ‘senior’ half of Iguana Lounge Two Women Two Generations with Cassandra Phillips. Iguana Lounge opened the inaugural Boss Ladies showcase at the Annoyance Theater. She loves to tell stories and had the pleasure of joining Scott Whitehair’s Lab program in the summer of 2014She has reinvented herself professionally from a licensed speech language pathologist to a specialist in Long Term Care planning. . Gail still maintains her day job as principal of Burling Insurance Group LTC. She is the proud grandmother of Benjamin Robert Widdess age 19 months. Her dream is to star in Medicare and Depends commercials some day.
Dan is a writer and performer originally from the south side of Chicago. Having always received very low marks in "exercising self-control" in Catholic grade school, he learned to harness his raspy energy for performing improv and sketch comedy in Chicago. Dan is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory, and has trained and performed around town at other various theatres including iO and in Chicago's Sketchfest. He, along with actor Tom Arnold, are alumni of the University of Iowa.
Melinda Deamon (pronounced Demon - little red guy, horns, tail, pitchfork) was born in the NW suburbs of Indiana - SOUTHSIDE! Growing up in a small town instilled in her a great appreciation of all things new, unknown and scary. She is a volunteer at Tree House Humane Society, a cat whisperer, Nutella addict, disgruntled yogini and local actress. She is honored to be here with all of you.
I'm in my 9th year teaching Computer Science in Chicago Public Schools, following a career in the business and technology worlds. I also teach a CS course at a local university; I help train other CS teachers around the country; and I deliver summer CS programs to students. I believe that all students need CS education to effectively participate in our 21st century economy and in our 21st century democracy. I've had a range of great and terrible experiences as a teacher, but my students have taught me to be optimistic about the future and that "talent is everywhere, opportunity is not."
Veronica Lynn is a teacher, director, nature-enthusiast, and lover of all types of travel. She's thrilled to be celebrating her sixth year as a middle school drama teacher and high school theatre director. Veronica studied acting and theatre education at Illinois State University, and just graduated from Roosevelt U with her Master's Degree in Directing last year. She feels very fortunate to surround herself with wonderful family and friends that love to share stories, so she is excited to give it a try and share with you!
Stephanie Wilson Medlock has been writing continually in a variety of venues and professions since composing and illustrating her first book of fairytales at the age of 10. She earned a journalism degree at Northwestern University, and as a professional journalist, she wrote news and human interest stories for two Connecticut newspapers and a variety of magazines. This experience led her to the University of Chicago Graham School, where she developed courses in the areas of publishing, museum publishing, and editing. In addition to her novel, The Lives of Things, Stephanie has published short stories and memoirs in such publications as “Feathered Flounder,” “Still Crazy,” “Persimmon Tree”, and “Tues/Night”. She has essays in both Celebrating Animal Rescue, and the forthcoming anthology of stories celebrating Indiana’s 150thanniversary. Stephanie is a founding member of Indigan Storyteller, a group that teaches the art of storytelling and performs in venues around Indiana and Michigan. In 2014, Stephanie also helped launch the International San Miguel Storytelling Festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, now in its third year.
Jim Noonan was a shoe salesman, park ranger, landscaper, fitness instructor, student, waiter, actor, comedian and nanny before deciding to become a stay-at-home dad/unemployed writer. He lives with his wife and two daughters and hopes that one day he'll have enough interesting experiences to warrant a 2500 character bio. Until that time comes, he'll be happy if he's recognized as "That one guy. You know, the one with the stories."
Ali Adib - Born in a developing country during war times. Have lived in 4 mega-cities in 3 different continents. Currently a project manager with an unfulfilled longing for creation, an urban-life addict, and a self-declared intellectual.
Andrew Barbera is a 31 year old life long Chicagoan from the western suburbs. He works in the restaurant industry, and despite having an innate and irrational hatred of the word "foodie", would have to admit that he qualifies as one. (Although he would like to clarify this does not imply that he is a food "snob" in any way) He loves to travel, with his most recent trip being to Barcelona. He has told stories to his friends thousands of times, but this will be his first in a formal setting
Megan is a writer, actor, singer, political activist, aspiring psychologist, and overall nice person. Originally from Kansas, she moved to Chicago in 2012 to pursue comedy and music. She has been seen around town performing cabarets, writing and performing sketch comedy, and singing with the band, The Mashed Potatoes. When not performing make-'em-ups, she can be found at her 9-5, watching Real Housewives, or reading scholarly journals. Megan is a graduate of Wichita State University and The Second City Conservatory
Isabelle has lived in the Chicago area for 15 years but still can't answer the question "Where are you from?". She has been a theater major, an event planner, a publicist for a well-known local musician and made the logical next career move and became a personal trainer and nutrition coach in 2010. Isabelle owns IzzyFit Personal Training and coaches in Evanston. Please don't feel weird eating fried food and drinking whiskey in front of her, though; you'll likely find her eating out of your plate and ordering her own drink (Jameson or Powers neat, please). She's happy to be getting back in touch with her creative roots, though, and is thrilled to be telling her story with Story Lab.
Reba Meshulam is a video producer, making a living telling her client's stories. Her most eye opening experience (so glad you asked) was as a photographer at the Ponderosa Sun Club, a nudist camp. A native Chicagoan, she now lives and works in the northern suburbs where her office is six steps from her kitchen. When she's not downing handfuls of sprouted cashews, she's doing down dog in her yoga studio. And speaking of dogs, she wishes people were more like them.
Eric Pedersen grew up in the western suburb of Glen Ellyn and has lived in Chicago proper for the past dozen years. Eric gets little to no satisfaction from his middle management customer service career, which is why he enjoys performing and entertaining. When he isn't performing in improv shows or attempting to train for endurance sporting events he is usually practicing guitar, which he is still not confident enough to do in public
Brendan grew up on the South Side of Chicago, where most people came from a similar background and an exotic trip was to the Wisconsin Dells. He followed his parents’ advice, getting a good education and became a lawyer only to discover that within that lawyer’s body is a soul filled with wanderlust bursting to get out. Brendan scratched this itch by traveling the world. He has visited all 50 States and all 7 Continents and he’s seen the world up close as while ran marathons on the Great Wall of China, Patagonia, around Mt. Kilimanjaro and even in Antarctica. And he’s not finished yet - with plans to continue seeing the world in countries yet unvisited as well as returning to some of his favorite spots. Along the way he has collected stories of triumph, failure, love, losses and gains. Those stories have made him who he is today, and he relishes sharing his tales gathered on the journey of life.
This is Andy's first time performing at Story Lab, though he has begun to attend the "Do Not Submit" storytelling open mics. While he has extensive experience as a writer, he has found the transition to storytelling an interesting challenge. He takes great pleasure in the storytelling of Garrison Keillor, the Moth Radio Hour, David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, even Mark Twain (as brought to life by Hal Holbrook), He has attended the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. He has found that, once you look through the storytelling lens, almost any experience has potential to make a great story.
Julia Gordon is a Chicago-area educator, actor, writer, and performer. She earned a Masters in the Art of Teaching from National Louis University, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. She has performed in various theatres city-wide, including Emerald City Theatre Company, Strawdog Theatre, and Broadway in Chicago. She values education reform above all else, and works to enrich children's lives daily
Gene Hoffmann is a Canadian expat from Toronto with a life-long passion for the power and magic of words, language and story. An artist by vocation; a writer, a raconteur, an astrologer, a healer, a spiritual consultant and an ordained minister with a background in psychology and comparative religion he follows in the storytelling tradition of such philosophical entertainers as Terence McKenna and Alan Watts, creating sacred healing spaces of semantic enchantment in which people can laugh and shudder and wonder and cry as they dance with the beautiful and frightful (and often times frightfully funny) state of their lives. Gene has performed at The Second City, at Open Book on Clark Street, and is currently developing his own venue of what he likes to call interactive teaching stories.
Kari McLean has lived in Chicago for several decades but was raised in Oxford, Ohio -- home to Miami University--which was a college before Florida was a state. Although she wanted to escape that area after college, she now yearns to return to the Cincinnati area. She enjoys an addiction to celery, coffee, and taxis. In between, she finds the time to tell the occasional story.
Jessy Lauren Smith
Jessy Lauren Smith is a Chicago-based writer, educator, producer, and claymation enthusiast whose plays have been produced in Chicago, Boston, Colorado, and Texas. She has been an artist-in-residence atRagdale and Blast Theory, and a finalist for a whole mess of playwriting things. She is also Managing Director of the Chicago branch of Living Room Playmakers, a playwright-driven collective that writes plays for unusual spaces. Currently, Jessy is working on Jack’s House, a site-specific play that will premiere at Adventure Stage in November 2016. She holds an MFA from Northwestern, in the palm of her hand, for an hour each day. jessylaurensmith.com
Amanda is a hard-working, detail-oriented perfectionist who loves to be busy, but also craves time to lounge at home to watch Netflix. She most enjoys being outdoors in the rare occasion that Chicago weather lands between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit and partly-sunny. On all other days, she enjoys being indoors playing guitar or piano. During the academic year, she can be found teaching high school engineering for the Chicago Public Schools on the west side. In the summers, she cannot be found, between long road-trips with her life partner Michael and frequenting the lakeshore at early hours to train for triathlons. Amanda first explored storytelling in a graduate school class to satisfy a public speaking requirement and has since made it her mission to tell and listen to stories regularly
Sarah is a writer, filmmaker, digital content creator, New Yorker, Wesleyan University graduate, feminist, pop culture aficionado, Second City improviser, and avid list-maker. She works for an entertainment startup, writes for several online publications, and publishes a bi-weekly email newsletter called Pop Warrior. When she’s not tweeting @SarahHalleCorey, she’s usually usually doing yoga and/or drinking unhealthy amounts of coffee. You can learn more about Sarah at sarahhallecorey.com.
Diana Gabriel is a teaching artist and curator, with a soft spot for handmade purses, scarves, and the perfect combination of potato chips and pickles. She emigrated from Bogota, Colombia, at the worse possible age, 14. But the hormones and moodiness didn’t stop her from sticking with school and earning a BFA from Northern Illinois University, and MFA from Illinois State University, both with an emphasis on nocturnal practices in Painting and Drawing. Diana currently teaches at Harper College in Palatine and College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois. Gabriel is the co-founder of TheCGProject, a creative platform for artists and audiences with a shared vision of increasing appreciation and accessibility of Art in our culture.
Joe Jekot has been fully engaged in the craft of learning all that is human in the lives of young people and adults. In his vocation as a high school teacher he has found that a well placed and well told tale takes all engaged on a quest for meaning and release. He started his thirty year career teaching religion and proved to his students that their relationship or story with God is really one “whopper” of a tale. And that somewhere out of the saga grows the art and joy of living a human life. Whether a fooll’s tale, a myth, or a personal family legend, stories are the "stuff" or the raw materials from which we create and live out our dreams. Joe has experience the pleasure of performing to all types of groups over the years including: Retirement Communities, Schools, Clubs, Churches, and Festivals
Cheryl McPhilimy lives in Chicago and has been a car-free, grown-up pedestrian longer than anyone she knows outside of New York. Her two very different hometowns – Detroit and Libertyville – are likely to blame for her quirky worldview. She works as a writer, teacher and consultant.
Mr. Diggs is a dreamer that envisions a world where people are more empathic by understanding each other. He believes storytelling is a powerful tool to help people understand each other. So, he is on a mission to share his experiences on both the north and south sides and hopefully other will join in and share their stories too.
Tony Czajkowski (pronounced Sy-kowski) moved from his family farm in Hadley, MA to Chicago to pursue writing and performing, and storytelling is a natural fit since it’s both. He has studied and performed around Chicago at iO, The Annoyance, and is a graduate of the Second City’s Severn Darden Graduate Program. He would like to thank Scott and everyone who supports live performance. Tony also thanks his family, they’re pretty cool too.
Anne was born and raised in Colorado, and received her undergraduate degree from Carroll College in Helena, Montana. She moved to Chicago in 2007 to pursue her dreams of being an actor. She is both country mouse and city mouse In September of 2013, she married her amazing husband, Ken. Because Ken is the best, in December of that same year, she was able to quit her job to pursue her Master's Degree in Digital Media and Storytelling. If you don't know what that degree is, feel free to buy Anne a drink after the show. She can't explain it either, but she appreciates the charity. Currently, Anne is a documentary filmmaker, writer, and hustler who takes odd jobs at law firms and pot farms. She enjoys traveling, hiking, reading, listening to music, jogging, and snuggling with her overprotective dog, Moose.
Danielle Holtz is a storyteller from Minnesota. She has performed with Knife & Fork, The Seven Deadly Sins Story Hour, Do Not Submit, Chant Royal and About Women. When she's not onstage, she acts as den mother & hype woman for the Chicago branch of Dance Dance Party Party.
I was born in Mexico and came to the US with my family when I was ten. I've never been in a school longer than 2 years, except high school, and that almost didn't happen. I've been a perpetual transfer student, sometimes by choice, sometimes by force. I got to start over often and learned to talk to strangers right away. Received a bachelors in psychology from DePaul and now work as a content editor and bilingual copywriter.
Liz Reeves is rediscovering herself through storytelling! With a background in theater, documentary filmmaking, and counseling, she has always found the human story to be a throughline in her life. Liz grew up in Arizona, and longs to wear her shit-kickers around town and not look like a fool, but has been in the Midwest so long she’s willing to call it home. She is married to her hunky filmmaker-husband, Doug, and has two practically perfect teenage daughters, Sophie and Francie, who make every day worthwhile. Liz loves to learn new languages and traveling, and her family says she is never so happy as when she is planning her next trip!
Adam is an educator, consultant, songwriter, poet, “Creativity Jam” host, and a former “Teacher of the Year” and non-profit director of an interfaith program for kids. He has designed and facilitated innovation and teambuilding events for more than 120 clients. He lived as a younger adult in San Francisco, where he founded the Kreativity Network, which put together events like this one, but returned to his childhood home of Chicago more than a dozen years ago as the slightly-disillusioned meaning-seeker he still is.
Brittany is a Chicago(land) native who is so excited to make her storytelling debut at Story Lab. Brittany is a former choir and theatre geek who studied at Monmouth College in Monmouth, IL. When she’s not performing, Brittany is thoroughly enjoying her job working for an amazing non-profit organization, Heartland Alliance. She also enjoys writing, reading, coloring and lying in her bed doing absolutely nothing. Brittany would also like to thank her big family, and her own awkwardness and social anxiety, for being never-ending sources for great stories to tell.
Paul first acted at 17, performing both comedic and dramatic interp in high school tournaments. Which led him to creating comedic commercials and dramatic documentaries. Paul then worked on a non-fiction book on the Religious Right. For 13 years. Looking for comic relief from his serious book, in 2015 he took classes at Second City and Chicago Dramatists. This past March, he combined comedy and drama in his solo show, Marching Orders at Chicago Solo Theatre. Paul is thrilled to perform his latest work, Withdrawal for the first time at Story Lab.
Carol Moss believes in the healing power of storytelling and regularly indulges in it through singing, writing, performing and working as a psychotherapist. Recent appearances include "Story Jam" at the Wilmette Theater and "Do Not Submit."
Nicky Pitman hails from Southern California and is a certified Valley Girl – like, totally! Currently teaching Drama to 4th-8th graders in Lake Forest, Nicky has worked as an actress, food server, lab tech, camp director, doctor’s assistant, public relations director, and held a variety of other positions that have given her lots of fodder for storytelling
Anne Purky is an astronaut & mom who studied film at Northwestern & writing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has performed at Louder Than a Mom, Ragdale, Tellin' Tales Theatre & will be in Story Jam in December & Story Club next year. She lives in the Fake Forest up north with her 17 y.o. amazing daughter and husband.
Sebastian was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1985, so technically born in West Germany back when there was a West Germany, After Chernobyl blew up and blanketed Sebastian with sufficient radiation his parents took him to live in Mexico City, Barcelona, Saint Louis, MO and eventually back to Mexico City. After leaving College in Houston, TX just in time for the Great Recession, Sebastian returned to Mexico where eventually he met his Wife, adopted two elderly dogs and decided to move to Chicago this year so that his wife could pursue an MBA at Kellogg. Sebastian also feel quite awkward about writing in the third person..
Anne Abel is a sociocultural anthropologist. She moved to Chicago in January, 2016 from suburban Philadelphia with her husband, Andy, a visiting professor at The University of Chicago. They intended to stay for four months. However, although Anne hates being alone--it's her biggest fear--in June she decided to stay in Chicago another year, with Andy commuting here from Philadelphia. Anne hopes that the writer Willard Spiegelman is right that retiring to a big city prepares you for the end, that "[t]he anonymity of metropolitan life gets you ready for the anonymity of the grave." Anne discovered Bruce Springsteen late in life and is trying to make up for lost time.
Steve has been a Chicagoan for life, albeit with a four-year stint in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, where he developed his passion for words and telling a strong story (on paper). Now, as a professional corporate communications writer, he does his best to humanize his content and make the complex simple. As a first-time public storyteller, Steve is excited to “scratch his itch” and finally tell one verbally, not through an email, web page or magazine article. Steve enjoys the Amalfi Coast, a proper Old Fashioned, discovering new music before you, fantasy sports and trying to get his two cats to act normal around other humans.
I was born to lead, tell stories, and champion the [im]possible. I was also born to eat tacos and play tennis :-) I'm not a techie, but I love the magic of technology and it's ability to connect people to ideas across cultures and borders. Chicago is my home, startups are my thing, and travel is my passion
Lindsay Eanet can be seen around town at shows like Is This A Thing?, Essay Fiesta, That's All She Wrote, You're Being Ridiculous and Story Jam, and next to you at your favorite bar, skipping over all your songs on the jukebox. She has a weakness for reality competition shows and cries an average of four times every episode of American Ninja Warrior. But enough about her, let’s talk about you.
Some decades ago, Peter started one of his many professional careers as a teacher. At the time, even though he did not realize it, he had become a storyteller. Along the way, he has collected some wonderful experiences in work and life. Listing them here would be a challenge however they include: Airline owner, woodworker, boat builder, father of two sons, loyal friend, writer, pig farmer, (briefly!) tour guide, traveler, honored to be Gabi's partner, and lately, a real, honest to goodness story teller! Peter is Dutch by heritage, and has been known to ride a bike AND eat cheese at the same time! Perhaps most importantly, Peter believes in the power of a story to change lives and to make a difference in the world.
Hailing from the faraway town of Evanston IL, Noah Perkins is currently a senior at Northwestern University, studying Playwriting. While stories have always been a part of Noah’s life, he never thought about telling them until he stumbled into Rives Collins’ class earlier this year. Since then, Noah has thrown himself into the world of storytelling, performing at The Moth, Do Not Submit, and, most recently, at the 2nd annual Evanston Storytelling Festival. When he is not preparing for Storylab, Noah can be found in various Evanston coffee shops writing an immersive theatre piece that will get its first staged reading in December. Noah is unsure of where he will be after graduation, however, whatever city he ends up in will most certainly have a vibrant scene for stories
Emma Mae Brown
Emma Mae Brown graduated with an English B.A. and a writing certificate from Florida International University in Miami, FL. The day after graduation, she packed her car and made the move to Chicago. Since then, she’s worked in book publishing, coffee, blog marketing, and most recently discovered her passion for the nonprofit world. Emma dreams of getting a Masters in creative writing, argues with her two cats on the regular, and shutters at the memory of literally running into a tinder date at the gym. This is her first planned performance
Krista Damico is endlessly curious and frequently fascinated. She grew up in Ohio and originally came to Chicago to study at Loyola University Chicago (majored in theatre, triple-minored in philosophy, psychology, and communications). Krista is a fervent advocate of incorporating theatre in every sector of society (if you'd like to know how this will benefit the world, just ask). She's also an amateur neuroscientist. Krista may be found around the city exploring museums, making marinara sauce, attending Illinois Science Council events, fulfilling her civic duty, and singing in the Chicago Artists Chorale. Thanks in advance for listening to her story
Mike Meyer is an Emmy nominated filmmaker, living in Lincoln Square. He’s worked for the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, made a feature film about zombies in heaven, and both Mickey Rooney and Keiysha Cole have both yelled at him. He’s currently directing a documentary about the haunted attraction industry.
Richard Pniewski is a retired award-winning English and Drama teacher. He also has directed plays for Artcraft Theatre in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood and, more recently, for Evergreen Park's Candlelight Theatre. After years of appreciating the storytelling stage at the annual Fox Valley Folk Festival, he has decided to join the storytelling community. He has appeared at the Illinois Storytelling Open Mike, Do Not Submit, Homewood Stories, and the Trail Mix Festival in the South Suburbs.
Claire Podulka is a writer, editor, and cat wrangler for an education start-up. She's previously shared stories at Story Club, Is This a Thing?, and got her start right here at Storylab. She lives with her husband in Lincoln Square.
Zoe Stergiannis is a semi-recent graduate of DePaul University, where she studied Anthropology and Creative Writing. She has since become a Real Estate Agent's Assistant, an online antique sales warrior, a part-time StoryStudio Chicago class scheduler, a volunteer member of the Discovery Squad at the Field Museum, and a writer whenever she can find a moment to sit down. Currently, she is working on becoming a world explorer who utilizes the creative arts as a way to increase understanding between people and generate positive change in the world, since she is not good enough at math to explore other planets. Zoe also hopes to someday live within one of those capybara hot spring communes in Japan