Walking over to Stage 773 with my friend John last Sunday, I really didn’t know what to expect from Here, Chicago. The first mistake we made was having dinner down the street before the show. One of the many great things Here, Chicago has to offer is that it doubles as a reading series and potluck dinner.
Whoops. Nothing like coming to a potluck full and empty handed. Don’t make the same mistake we did.
The second mistake was…well, there was no real second mistake. When I review live lit events, I don’t like to research them until after, so as to be surprised and in the moment. So, given that, I expected to see the performers (who told their stories beautifully and with heart) with at least some form of paper in their hands.
Here, Chicago is storytelling at its rawest form and with that at play, it brought a lot of laughter and a lot of reflection.
There were four featured readers at the show as well as five readers from the audience, and they all told riveting stories: stories about early days living on a golf course or mishaps in the bathtub, the heartthrob and heartache that can come from the ones we love, being robbed by a gunman and being robbed by Lyme disease. Stories from attorneys and songs from songwriters.
At the end of the night, the audience got to vote for their favorite storyteller, and whomever scores highest gets to be a featured reader at the next show. Believe me, it was a tough vote. Last Sunday the winning storyteller was Clay Neigher, a Ping-Pong champion from the South. In the two-hour span of the event, I felt I was doing more than just listening to people. I was connecting with them too, and I am certain host Janna Sobel, who has been working with this amazing series since 2010, has brought something unique to the storytelling community.
If you’re a fan of campfire stories, go to this series. If you like good storytelling, go to this series. If you like stand-up comedy and one man/woman shows, theatre and books, go to this series. If you like the feeling of human connection and community that storytelling can bring…go to this series, it’s unlike any I have been to yet.
Here, Chicago happens the first Sunday of every month either at Stage 773 (1225 W. Belmont) or Theater Wit (Right next door,at 1229 W. Belmont). Potluck at 7:30pm, Stories start at 8pm. Tickets: $8 and free if you bring a dish to share. You can find more info at herechicago.org.