This month, our tellers freak you the freak out with stories of haunted hospitals, real-life witches, bodies in freezers, killer babies, and the scariest creature of all: your fellow man. So bring a friend…or walk to you car alooone.
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Storytelling for adults is hot-hot-hot in Chicago, with shows like The Moth packing houses nightly. First Person Live brings this unique form of entertainment, self-expression and community building to the suburbs in a show featuring the best of Chicago talent as well as local folks. Hosted by 3-time Moth StorySLAM winner Diane Kastiel, this is real people telling real stories from their lives – a new group of tellers and a different theme each month. More at www.firstpersonlive.com.
Sarah 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 nine years ago, she is adjusting to the long winters and nearly complete lack of cows. She teaches English to sophomores and seniors at the Latin School of Chicago, 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). Sarah is a two-time Moth Grand Slam Champion and curates the Truth or Lie Reading Series in Chicago.
Nestor Gomez was born in Guatemala and moved to Chicago in the mid-80s. He told his first story at a Moth StorySLAM as a way to get over stuttering. He won the slam that night and currently holds the record for most Chicago Moth StorySLAM wins. He’s also the producer and host of 80 Minutes Around the World: an Immigration Storytelling Show which showcases stories of immigrants and their allies. But if you ask him, he will say his greatest achievements are making his mother proud and winning the heart of his wife, Sweet Mel.
Diane Kastiel is the producer, director, and host of First Person Live. A writer and storyteller from Chicago, she’s a three-time winner of the National Public Radio’s Moth StorySLAM; her work has been featured on the Moth Radio Hour, its podcast, and at special events for WBEZ. Diane has told stories on stage at The Second City, the Park West, Victory Gardens and other theaters as well as comedy clubs, art galleries, the basement of a tattoo parlor – she even did a show in the middle of the woods! Since launching First Person Live, Diane has worked with libraries, businesses, community centers and homeless shelters to bring storytelling to a wider audience. Diane is an alumna of The Second City Conservatory and the University of Chicago’s Great Books program. She also has an MBA from Northwestern University…just in case.
Megan Lavery lives in Grayslake with her partner, daughter, and menagerie of rescue animals. However, home will always be Danville, Illinois, where she was born and raised. Megan is a health teacher and coach on the North Shore whose passion is helping kids become good humans. Teaching important topics like mental health, consent, and addiction are her jam. Meg is an introvert who has lived many lives in her 42 years, which reflects her family motto: “We might not have good luck, but we at least we have great stories!”
Drew Love is a stop-motion animator and a documentary filmmaker on a journey to perfect his craft as a storyteller. He’s also the proud father of four, married to the most beautiful woman in the world for 22 years. Drew grew up like a gypsy soul – in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Puerto Rico – and now calls Chicago home.
Risa McDonell, a higher education consultant, may be the only mom in America to send her four-year-old to preschool with a Budweiser can hanging around his neck…but that’s another story. Risa started telling stories as a way to create short-term deadlines for herself, get out of her living room “office,” and find a creative community to inspire her. She tells stories all over Chicago and is thrilled to be at First Person Live! Risa’s happy place is anywhere she can be with her husband and 12-year-old son, preferably in Maine. And some day she will finish her novel – a fictionalized account of her great-grandmother’s friendship with Babe Ruth when they were on a bowling league team together (really!).
Suzanne Nice is a high school psychologist and loves working with students of all ages. She has no performance experience other than her high school marching band and playing one of the Brewster Sisters in a high school production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” But Suzanne has always loved storytelling and has been known to sit in her car in the garage listening to the rest of a story on The Moth Radio Hour. She learned about storytelling through many years of attendance at the Maurie Nice School of Storytelling – her father, at dinner, entertaining the family with excerpts from his day. She learned from the best.
Scott Whitehair is the host of This Much Is True, Chicago’s longest-running monthly personal narrative storytelling series, and the creator of Story Lab Chicago, which features new and emerging storytellers. He’s also the director of Do Not Submit, a grassroots network of open mics shows that bring friends and neighbors together to connect over stories. Scott teaches storytelling to individuals, companies and nonprofits and performs at festivals and venues around the country. In his free time, he rides his bike, often to breweries, and enjoys the sauna in the winter. Scott is getting more comfortable in the kitchen, and recently made his own sauerkraut and mustard. His current dream is to bake his own hard roll and cure a sausage in order to construct an entirely artisanal sandwich.