The Chicago Tribune has called Mark Dvorak "masterful," and the Fox Valley Folk Festival describes him as "a living archive of song and style." In 2012 WFMT's Classical 98.7 fm Midnight Special host Rich Warren named him Chicago's "official troubadour." Mark has given concerts in almost all of the United States and has made visits to Finland, Canada and Ireland. To date he has released twenty albums of traditional and original music including 2020s Let Love Go On and 2023s Live & Alone. Dvorak has won awards for children's music, journalism and was honored in 2013 with the FARM Lantern Bearer Award from Folk Alliance International. In 2008 he received the Woodstock Folk Festival Lifetime Achievement Award.
An Evening with
Rick & Laura Hall
Sunday, March 26th 2023
Rick & Laura met in Chicago when they both got hired by The Second City, Chicago. Since then, they got married, had two children, lived and worked in L.A for thirty years, and have recently moved back to the Chicago area where they continue to perform, both separately and together. The Halls present a unique theatrical experience. Rick’s storytelling, based on his life experiences, can be touching one moment and hilarious the next, with characters both unique and familiar. He's been called “a modern-day Will Rogers” by Joyce Sloan, Producer at The Second City. Laura adds another level to Rick’s stories by playing a musical score that make audiences walk out of the theater feeling like they just saw a movie.
Rick Hall has been seen on many television shows including three seasons of the Disney Channel show KC Undercover where he played Zendaya’s boss. Other TV shows include Curb Your Enthusiasm, Saving Grace, 24, According to Jim, Seinfeld, and The Middle. He’s also been in several films and countless commercials. Rick adapted one of stories, Slice of Pie, into a short film which he shot on location in his hometown of Carrollton, Illinois. The film enjoyed a successful run of the film festival circuit, winning numerous awards. Rick created a one man show called “Pigboy” with Barbara Wallace as director. The show is based on his life growing up on a pig farm in central Illinois. Pigboy was called “spellbinding” by The New York Times, was chosen for the Aspen HBO Comedy Arts Festival, and had successful runs in L.A, Chicago, and a tour of the Midwest. Rick has a podcast of his stories entitled “So Sez Rick” where Laura is his co-host who gently reminds us that all of Rick’s stories are mostly true. “So Sez Rick” can be found on most of podcast platforms.
Laura Hall is best known as the improvisational pianist on television’s Whose Line is it Anyway, which is currently in production of their twentieth season. New episodes air on the CW network on Friday nights. Laura has toured the country doing live shows with Drew Carey and The Improv Allstars. She's shared the stage with such diverse performers as Roger Daltrey, Robin Williams, and Joe Walsh. She's played with countless improv groups in Chicago and L.A. Laura is also a singer-songwriter and has written music for several indie films, including the score for Slice of Pie. She also scored an award winning documentary about the holocaust, Swimming in Auschwitz, and the romantic comedies, Anatomy of a Breakup and Look at Me.
I'm Not Trying To Be Funny
Sunday, March 19th 2023
R.C. Riley's humorous solo show with a nod to stand-up comedy will leave you in deep reflection about relationships, perspectives, and life’s most trying tribulations. I’m Not Trying to Be Funny… but sometimes you just have to laugh to keep from crying!
R.C. Riley (she/her/they) is a writer, performer, activist, and warrior who began writing as a means of healing after a sexual assault. R.C.’s personal healing led to the creation of their first solo show, Wrong Way Journey. Their work examines the intersection of race, gender (sex), sexuality and faith and seeks to find justice for and liberate those marginalized by society. R.C. leads workshops, guest lectures, performs short stories and solo shows at colleges and theaters across the Chicagoland area. Their solo shows include: Wrong Way Journey, SOGI Say What?!: LGBTQ+ Health Care Experiences, Take It Easy on The Left Hand, Please and their most recent work – I’m Not Trying to Be Funny. In addition, R.C. hosts a podcast titled BE EMPOWERED! with R.C., which addresses topics of concern for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and LGBTQ+ communities. You can find R.C. on social media @rcempowers or @rcrileyempowers or check out their website www.rcrileyempowers.com.
In the Spirit
(featuring Zahra Baker &
Emily Hooper Lansana)
Sunday, March 5th 2023
An afternoon of stories and songs that journey from transformative moments in Black History to powerful moments of personal insight. This program is a celebration filled with opportunities for reflection and celebration.
This duo performs an extensive repertoire of African and African American stories and songs demonstrating commitment to community and transformation. Individually and collectively, they perform for people of all ages in diverse settings. Past performances include: The National Storytelling Festival, and The National Association of Black Storytellers Festival and Conference.
Places I Can't Return To
Sunday, February 26th 2023
In this interactive, multimedia performance of Sean Flannery's recently published book, the audience will choose the stories and order of telling via questionnaire. . Each chapter is a place he cannot return to, usually because the people who live or work there warned him to never return. Or sometimes because those places are now in the bottom of a lake. The book intertwines Sean's own outrageous stories with funny asides on the history of these places. Like a travel book, if the author only stayed at places that have since been demolished.
The easiest way to describe Sean Flannery is: he’s attended the wrong wedding (twice).That mostly sums it up. Sean hosts and created The Blackout Diaries. He’s appeared on Comedy Central, NPR, Sirius Radio. The Chicaog Reader also named Sean "Best Drunk in Chicago". He and his wife are having very different reactions to that award. Sean's first book, “Places I Can’t Return To” debuted this spring.
Renowned stand-up comedian, editor of Sean's book, and Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me panelist Adam Burke will open the show.
A Secret in Plain Sight
Sunday, February 19th 2023
What do you do when you discover a long-held family secret that completely alters who you thought you were? Kevin Gladish goes on a journey into the past as he discovers his true identity and grapples with what is true, what is false, and how much any of us can ever know.
Kevin Gladish has been telling stories at such venues as Filet of Solo, You're Being Ridiculous, This Much is True, Story Sessions, Story Club, and The Moth Grand Slam. As an actor, he's worked with Steep Theatre, Griffin, City Lit, Promethian Theatre, and The Artistic Home, among others. Shortly after discovering he was adopted, he began documenting his experiences searching for birth family and coming to terms with his past in a blog called A Story With No Beginning. This show grew out of that blog and that journey.
I'm Falling in Love
All The Time
Sunday, February 5th 2023
Coffee. Romance. Heroin. There’s a first time for everything and a last. In his heartfelt solo show, Jack Schultz weaves together personal stories of the highs and lows of love. In 2015 Jack lost his brother Andrew to a heroin overdose, broke up with his girlfriend, and developed an addiction to coffee. Experiencing all three at once helped him see parallel themes in love, loss, and addiction and he tied them together in one universally accessible story.
Jack Schultz is an actor, teacher, and storyteller in Chicago. He’s the Artistic Director of Green Shirt Studio where he teaches the Meisner Technique and former Artistic Director of The Agency. In his time leading Green Shirt and The Agency, he's helped produce hundreds of live performances of all shapes and sizes. Performance credits with The Agency include I Wish To Apologize to the People of Illinois, The Spirit of ’76, and Hellcab (2017 and 2018). Jack is a graduate of the iO Training Center, a 200 level RYT Yoga instructor, and completed the True Acting Diploma Course with Master Meisner Teacher Larry Silverberg. He also appears on The Carbonaro Effect where Michael Carbonaro tricked him into believing a viking skeleton tried to attack him at a construction site outside of O’Hare Airport. www.jackgschultz.com
Treasures and Time Travel
Sunday, January 22nd 2023
Why do we keep certain artifacts from our past (letters, trinkets, etc.)? What memories do they evoke? Through story and song, Sue Fink explores the treasures we choose to keep, and the places those treasures allow us to revisit. We break time’s linear path and in that sense, travel through time. As Sue shares her own treasures, the audience is magically transported to their own special places, unerasable by time. Is life but a dream?
Chicago-based singer-songwriter Sue Fink enchants audiences with her whimsical perspective on the world. Through song and story (and story-songs), she shares witty and perceptive observations of the human condition. Her genre is folk with a hint of jazz, a large dollop of humor, and a drop of sadness for good measure. You may have seen her perform around town (or the Midwest), or heard her songs on local and national folk radio stations. Her “Alternate Universe” song was included in Episode 691 of This American Life (NPR). https://suefink.com
Lessons From Granny
Sunday, January 15th 2023
From a kitchen table, Jacoby Cochran learned some of the world's greatest and hardest lessons from his very first Chicago icon, Mamie Ferrell. In a series of stories, he'll share a few of those gems. This show is a celebration, memorial, and dedication to the black women (and now ancestors) whose shoulders Jacoby stands on.
Jacoby Cochran a writer, educator, and storyteller. He is the award winning host of City Cast Chicago, Chicago's favorite daily news podcast! The podcast was named Best of 2021 by the Chicago Reader and Chicago Magazine calls it “the essential Chicago podcast.” You can also catch Jacoby discussing news, sports, culture and events on Chicago's NPR and PBS stations. You can visit his website to sample his work and see the organizations he has partnered with. But for this show it is important to know Jacoby's storytelling primarily centers Black Chicago, the legacy of the Great Migration, and the griots who passed down their gifts. His work explores segregation, state violence and the joy of resistance.
Summoning Up a World:
Springsteen's Debut at 50
Sunday, January 8th 2023
On January 5, 1973, Bruce Springsteen’s debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., was released to little fanfare or acclaim. Few could have predicted the career that would follow. Fifty years on, musician and storyteller Eric Garneau (with an assist from percussionist Dwight Haesler) examines and pays tribute to this landmark record that sees an iconic musical voice beginning to create a world for his stories and himself.
Eric Garneau (he/him) has played at the intersection of the storytelling and music spaces for a long time, including, for the last four years, as one of the coproducers and house band members of Mortified Chicago. He takes his Springsteen seriously and has even presented a paper on Bruce’s evolving use of pronouns at an academic conference on the holy ground of the Jersey Shore. By day, he works in the tabletop game industry and has recently published a series of Dungeons & Dragons adventures inspired by classic records called Rock & Roll.
Paul Teodo is a retired healthcare executive who has been on stages around Chicago telling stories for the past twelve years. He is a multiple Moth story slam winner and Grand Slam champion. Paul has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, and is the co-author of three works of fiction - the novels PASTAMAN and Call Me Z, as well as South of Cermak: Chicago Stories, a collection of short stories centering on the often forgotten south side of Chicago. All are available on Amazon and will be available at the performance.
Sunday, October 16th 2022
Megan Wells has been touring her one woman solo-storytelling-hybrid experience for 20 years, from the Oak Park Festival to the National Storytelling Festival to its annual home in the Woodstock Opera House. We're excited to celebrate October with the original horror story in the intimate space of The Jekot Theater. Get up close and personal in this lively encounter with the undead.
Megan Wells is an MFA theater director with Jeff award credits, a Jeff nominated solo performer and a full-time national traveling storyteller for 30 years. What that really means is Megan knows a lot of folk and fairy stories, epic stories, world myth and historical stories and she tells them anywhere, everywhere and a lot. Credits include Guest Artist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival, yearly teller with the Chicago Public Library as well as libraries, schools, museums, book clubs, major storytelling festivals and theaters. Recently named an Oracle by the National Storytelling Network, Megan was inducted into America’s Circle of Excellence in Storytelling.
World's Greatest Dad(?)
Sunday, October 16th 2022
After 10 years in therapy, Jimmy Carrane is still unhappy that he is not as famous as some of the people he started out doing improv with. So when his therapist suggests that Jimmy and his wife have a baby to bring more joy into their life, Jimmy sets out to become a first-time dad at age 52, at the same time that his own father is dying. From fertility treatments to a disastrous funeral, Carrane takes us on a funny and poignant roller coaster of life and death and shares his discovery that you don’t have to be the “greatest” to be a good dad.
An original member of The Annoyance Theater and Armando at The iO-Chicago, Jimmy has written and starred in several acclaimed one-man shows Today, Jimmy is a renowned and respected improv teacher, having taught at The Second City, iO-Chicago, The Annoyance, Victory Gardens and other locations for more than 25 years. He may be best known to some Chicago audiences from his seven years as host of Studio 312 on Chicago Public Radio or as the host of the popular podcast Improv Nerd.
The Princess Strikes Back:
One Woman's Search for the Space Cowboy of her Dreams
Sunday, September 18th 2022
In 1997, 13-year-old Victoria Montalbano was introduced to her perfect man, Han Solo, and she’s been looking for him ever since. Watch her grow from awkward theatre kid to professional out of work actress while swiping her way through a galaxy far, far away! Don't miss this opportunity to experience this critically acclaimed solo show that has been delighting fringe festival audiences across the country.
VICTORIA MONTALBANO is a Chicago-based actress, writer, storyteller, and producer. Her stories have been featured at STORY CLUB CHICAGO, UNIVERSAL SOUND, TENX9 CHICAGO, WE HAVE QUESTIONS, POUR ONE OUT, and more. The critically acclaimed, The Princess Strikes Back is her debut solo show. Since its world premiere in 2021, the show has been produced by the Elgin Fringe, Theatre Crude, the Chicago Circus and Performing Arts Festival, the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, IndyFringe Theatre Festival, and the Orlando Fringe Festival. As an actress she has performed in Storefront Theatres all over Chicago, including Redtwist Theatre, Pegasus Theatre and Pride Arts, and was part of the iO Chicago improv team, Plus-Prov. Selected Theatre: Twelfth Night (Olivia), The Comedy of Errors (Dromio of Syracuse), Arms and the Man (Louka), and Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding (Donna/Terry). Film: Cupid’s Chokehold, B.A.D.D., Cancel This Movie. TV/New Media: Apartment 101, Chi-Nannigans, The Studio. Podcast: Co-host Now Kiss! A Shipping Podcast. VICTORIA has a degree in Drama from Syracuse University