Reading Series You Should Know: Producer Angela Vela enlightens us about The Seven Deadly Sins

What inspired you to create this series?

I am obsessed with shows that are based on themes because I love seeing how differently they can be interpreted, and I am always excited to see what each of the sins brings out of the performers as far as creativity and expression. The “seven deadly sins” was always a sexy theme to me and ensured a good opportunity for such variety since everyone has, at some point, experienced or observed the sins

If you could have anyone read at The Seven Deadly Sins, who would it be and why?

I would love to have David Sedaris read on the show, because no matter what the theme or context of his story is he always manages to make it funny, and his delivery is very conversational and therefore intimate, like you are listening to an old friend. Hearing an entertaining story while feeling an intimate connection is exactly what I hope for at every show.

 In your mind, what makes your reading series different from other series currently happening in the live lit scene?

Most shows like to commit to certain writing styles or forms of delivery, but I try to steer away from putting any limitations on the performers. For example I knew from the beginning that it was very important to include both fiction and non-fiction stories. Whether a sin invokes a childhood memory that gets told, inspires a heavy poetry piece or rant, or includes the creation of two characters playing out a scene in a work of fiction, seeing what each sin means to a performer and how they choose to express it to an audience is my favorite part of being a producer. Another aspect of the show that I like to keep open is type of performer. Some shows only book seasoned performers but I always love being able to book first-timers who happen to have a really good story, and many SDS lineups often include previous audience members who were inspired to pitch a story.

What do you think is behind the recent boom of live lit happening in Chicago?

I think several factors are behind the recent growth of the live lit scene. One would be podcasting, because people have greater access to storytelling as an entertainment, and therefore are more likely to seek out that experience locally, whether as a performer or an audience member, and Chicago has an impressive number of shows throughout the week to do both. Podcasts have a positive effect on both the supply of performers and demand of performances. Another reason could be performer crossover. When I started doing stand-up comedy five years ago, there was a greater divide between comedy shows and storytelling/reading series. There were some exceptions (The Sunday Night Sex Show or The Blackout Diaries) that booked both types of performers, but in the last couple years it seems like more and more storytelling shows are being started up by comics, not just folks from the lit scene, and that taps into a whole new group of performers and potential audience members. I have found live lit to be so desirable to both performers and audience because while not everyone might get a comedian’s sense of humor or perspective, being emotionally connecting to the human experience behind the stories being told are something that people can more often understand, even if they have never experienced what the performer has.

Using six words, describe your series.

Hilarious, intense, personal…and always entertaining.

 What can we hope to see from The Seven Deadly Sins in the future?

The next step for SDS is to take it on the road to other nearby cities, spending a weekend here and there to perform a couple shows that consist of part Chicago and part local performers. Cities in mind would include Milwaukee, Madison, and St. Louis.

 The next Seven Deadly Sins is on April 14th at Cafe Mustache and every second Tuesday of the month.