Aug. 3rd the Features Feature!

I am looking out a window full of tree tops and sky, wondering what could be better than having a reason to assemble some of the best people I know every month; to bring them all together in one room, to listen and share and be inspired by eachother’s experiences, thoughts, lives and stories. I’m not sure I know an answer.

With Here’s the Story thriving and growing by leaps and bounds every month, I am happy knowing that this kind of coming together is serving and satisfying the wonderful people who turn up to it from Chicago’s many creative communities. It feels great to offer a place and time for all of you who are doing such good things with your lives to meet other folks who are doing the same, through all different ways and means.

I like that the show is “themeless”, and that half of our tellers sign up the night-of, so that the character and spirit of the evening emerges as the show goes on. I also like gathering people ahead of time to bring to you as featured tellers; people that Dan or I feel might be of special interest because of their life experiences and/or storytelling abilities. At our opening show, I was stunned by the breadth and depth of talent that rolled up to our doorstep… Scott Whitehair, Kelsie Huff, Anthony Oberbeck, Rev. Dr. Clare Butterfield and Norm Holly (Norm had to attend to business at Second City at the last minute, and so called in a rain check ;)) all agreed—with great faith and generosity— to tell stories at our flagship show, and their stories were fantastic. Last month Susan Messing, Ian Belknap, Jeffrey Jeffries, Caitlin Bergh and J.W. Basillo, along with all our walk-up tellers, brought the frikkin’ house down. July’s show was a moving, hilarious, inspiring show, full of the humor and honesty and insight of excellent humans. And this month, it just keeps coming. I am beyond excited to bring you the following line-up of features for August:

Alyson Lyon
Joe Janes
Roger Bonair-Agard
Sarah Weidmann
and Natasha Tsoutsouris

Read on for a little bit more about them. And then come out and hear for yourself. Theater Witt, 1229 W. Belmont, 7:30 Potluck and sign up to tell, 8pm show. It’s free! Bring people, bring food, bring stories. The more the merrier.


Alyson Lyon is co-producer of the monthly reading series Essay Fiesta at the Book Cellar — She is also a founding member of The Chicago Story Collective and can be seen Aug 4 at Uncommon Ground’s Story Club — In addition, Alyson played bass guitar for Stiletto Attack! and the Gray in Black and was a Potbelly acoustic musician for all of 2010. Alyson currently works as a makeup artist. You can check out her awesome blog Alyson Hearts Faces to see how she rolls on that end.

Joe Janes has taught improv and writing at The Second City Training Center since 1997 and is the Improv Program Coordinator for Columbia College. He is also a senior writer/director at Fig Media, Inc. He is a founding member of the WNEP Theater Foundation and the artistic director of Robot vs Dinosaur. He has written and provided voices for the CD-ROM game You Don’t Know Jack. He also has an emmy for writing for a Cincinnati children’s program called Club 19. A non-believer of writer’s block or not enough time, he has taken on writing a comedy sketch a day and posting them at Bite and Smile.

Dubbed by Patricia Smith as “…his own revolution” and by Thomas Lux “a poet of blue lightning and white hot passions” Roger Bonair-Agard is a veteran of the spoken-word scene and a two-time National Poetry Slam Champion. He is the author of Tarnish and Masquerade (Cypher Books, 2006) and co-author of Burning Down the House (Soft Skull Press, 2000). His most recent book of poems is GULLY (Cypher Books, Peepal Treet Press, 2010). Roger moved to the United States from his native Trinidad and Tobago in 1987. Roger has appeared three times on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and on the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour. For the last ten years he has worked with the youth at Urban Word in New York City, and for the last seven with the youth at Volume in Ann Arbor and Poetry Youth Organizations in Seattle, San Francisco, and the Adirondack Valley, NY. He is the co-founder and Artistic Director of the LouderARTS Project in New York. He has also been Adjunct Professor in the Creative Writing Department at Fordham University. Currently Roger is writer-in-residence with Vision Into Art, and Poet In Residence with Young Chicago Authors. He teaches poetry at the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago, IL. Roger is also a Cave Canem fellow, and has studied under Yusef Komunyakaa, Cornelius Eady, Marilyn Nelson, Toi Derricotte, and Patricia Smith. He has lead countless workshops and lectures, and has performed his poetry at many American universities as well as international festivals in Germany, Switzerland, Milan and Jamaica.

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Sarah Weidmann is a teacher and performer in Chicago. She creates, writes, and stages her solo performance work. Currently, she can be seen performing with The Kates, a group of comediennes, who perform at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square twice a month with a rotating cast. Sarah writes stories and character pieces about her personal experiences, relationships, and fantasies. The stories are generally exaggerated for the stage and include prop-work. Last year, Sarah was seen at Link’s Hall with her tribute to Trent Reznor. She also wrote and performed a full length piece, inspired by the fairy tale Rapunzel, that was performed the Mary Archie Theater in Chicago. Sarah continues to be inspired by the absurdities of everyday life and will workshop a full length performance inspired by three fourth grade students this year. Ms. Weidmann is a devoted educator of young people, having taught creative movement and original performance conception to preschool, elementary and high school students as a teaching artist, as well as being a classroom teacher for the past two years in Bronzeville and now Chinatown. Sarah enjoys her Lincoln Square home with her loving wife and two overweight cats.

Natasha Tsoutsouris was our audience’s choice for Best Walk-Up Teller at our July show, and is excited to be have made her storytelling debut with Here’s the Story. She is even more excited to officially have a bio. She is also well versed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu so if you don’t like her stories, she’ll choke the hell out of you.

Be sure to check out the Facebook Invite!

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