Preview: Fillet of Solo Festival Celebrates Live Lit With Storytelling Collectives and Solo Performers

The 23rd Annual Fillet of Solo Festival, running January 10–26, celebrates Chicago’s storytelling and live lit scene at Lifeline Theatre and the Teal Room in Rogers Park. The festival, organized by former Lifeline artistic director Dorothy Milne and former Live Bait Theater artistic director Sharon Evans, brings 15 storytelling collectives and nine solo performers together for a three-week selection of personal stories.

Performances will take place Fridays through Sundays with multiple performances all three days at both venues. Lifeline Theatre is located at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. and the Teal Room is at 6956 N. Glenwood Ave. Free parking and shuttle available. Ticket prices are $10 for regular single tickets, and $60 for a Festival Pass (allows admission to any performance). Tickets may be purchased online at the Lifeline box Office by calling 773.761.4477. See the full performance schedule.

The 23rd Annual Fillet of Solo Festival will feature solo performances by:

  • Jamie Black: “It’s My Penis and I’ll Cry If I Want To”
  • Shelby Marie Edwards: “Lost Home, Win Home”
  • Kristina Lebedeva: “It’s Easy to be a Hero: Disability in Exile”
  • Arlene Malinowski: “A Little Bit not Normal”
  • Janki Mody: “Hear Me, See Me”
  • Anne Purky: “The Fixer (Notes from a Helicopter Mom on Steroids)”
  • Victoria Reeves: “Brassy + Intrepid”
  • R.C. Riley: “Take It Easy on the Left Hand, Please”
  • Shannon Wright: “LOVE, SHANNON XO”
The Fillet of Solo performers.

Plus the work of these storytelling collectives:

80 Minutes Around the World: Immigration Stories. Curated and produced by Nestor Gomez; 20-time Moth Slam winner Gomez has assembled a group of local performers to help illuminate the voices of immigrants in our city.

The Back Room is a curated show that features voices from across the spectrum of storytelling. Margaret Burk co-produces and co-hosts three monthly storytelling events in Oak Park/River Forest: Back Room Stories at Hamburger Mary’s, Illinois Storytelling’s series at Dominican University, and Do Not Submit Oak Park at the Eastgate Cafe.

GeNarrations is a personal narrative performance workshop hosted at the Goodman Theatre and in senior centers around Chicago.

Is This a Thing?  Produced by Jake Cowan, Damian Raszewski, and Suzy Kahn Weinberg. Is this a thing? is a storytelling show that features new and experienced writers and tellers of true personal tales. Their theme-inspired monthly show takes place at O’Shaughnessy’s, a north side neighborhood pub.

the kates is an all-female comedy showcase that provides an intimate night of comedy dedicated to showcasing talented and hilarious female-identified performers by creating inclusive and positive environments.

The Lifeline Storytelling Project produces live music and storytelling events designed to develop and showcase artists affiliated with Lifeline Theatre.

Loose Chicks Before #.MeToo began empowering women, there was Loose Chicks, a collection of courageous women who share experiences that most women keep to themselves. Each show features six writers and performers who allow themselves to be vulnerable as they share their stories.

Serving the Sentence is a live lit show in which different storytellers take the same first sentence — each in their own direction. At the end of the show, a new sentence is drawn that the next show’s storytellers will embark from!

Stir-Friday Night! Is a 23-year-old Asian-American comedy group, based in Chicago and performing at Second City, iO, Annoyance, Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, and at festivals all over the country. Stir-Friday Night! alumni include Danny Pudi from Community, and Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead.

The Stoop is hosted by Moth Grand SLAM champion Lily Be. Featured storytellers are given a theme and each shares a short story related to that theme. The Stoop performs regularly at Rosa’s Lounge in Humboldt Park.

Story Sessions, produced and hosted by Jill Howe, is a monthly show in Edgewater featuring a collection of curated performers and open mics sharing true personal stories.

Sweat Girls. With 26 years  of shared history, the Sweat Girls represent the graying edge of Chicago’s live lit community. The Sweat Girls have been called “the undisputed tribal elders” of the solo performance scene (Chicago Reader, 2014).

Tellin’ Tales Theatre, featuring Tekki Lomnicki, shatters the barriers between the disabled and non-disabled worlds through personal — adult solo performances as well as “Six Stories Up,” a mentoring program and show featuring kids and adults, with and without disabilities. Tekki Lomnicki is a solo performer, playwright, director and educator.

Universal Sound, hosted by Vincent Greco, is a storytelling event that is part curated and part open mic, designed for people to tell their stories their way.

We Met at Nine, hosted and produced by Lindsay Eanet and Lindsey Schroeder, is a quarterly storytelling show at Chicago’s Laugh Out Loud Theater involving true stories told by pairs. Each show features five pairs (partners, parent and child, coworkers, siblings, best friends, exes).

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Nancy S Bishop

Nancy S. Bishop is publisher and Stages editor of Third Coast Review. She’s a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and a 2014 Fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. You can read her personal writing on pop culture at, and follow her on Twitter @nsbishop. She also writes about film, books, art, architecture and design.

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