Short Story Theatre was founded in 2012 by Rick Leslie, Donna Lubow& Susan Block.
Our concept is to present storytelling as an entertaining theatrical event. We are dedicated to promoting awareness of storytelling as a vibrant, contemporary art form. Our stories are creative non-fiction, based on our personal experiences, but with universal themes. We meld our writing skills and performance skills to entertain and inspire our audiences.
Our founders have backgrounds in theatre, television, advertising, painting, writing, and teaching. So why not storytelling? After seeing Rick Leslie perform a story in Chicago in early 2012, Susan Block and Donna Lubow thought -"we should do this in the suburbs!" Our first venture was at "Vibe at 1935" in Highland Park. Performances were sold-out, and audiences were sold on spending an enjoyable evening eating, drinking and listening to 4 10-minute stories. Writers/actors around town heard about us and wanted to be a part of the excitement we were building. Our next moves were to the following venues: Bertucci's in Highwood, Laughing Chameleon in Glenview, Cellar Gate in Highwood, Books on Vernon in Glencoe, the Wilmette Theatre, The Alley in Highwood, at Miramar Bistro in Highwood for several years, and now at The Art Center Highland Park. Since we began, over 60 storytellers have shared their personal stories with us. We continue to offer writers and actors opportunities to entertain audiences with enlightening stories.
Watch this site for more information, including copies of our favorite stories...new storytellers...new ideas...
"Go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. TELL STORIES. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."
- Kurt Vonnegut
Rebecca Adler has performed at local theatres including Attic Playhouse and Clockwise Theatre, where she also served as Managing Director during its formative years. She spends her days as an instructional designer, writing classroom and e-learning courses for companies across the country. She has been writing since the day she learned to read.
Anthony Bilotti lived in a suburb of Philadelphia as a child, moved to Philadelphia as an adult and then Chicago in 1976 after meeting his wife, Emma Kowalenko. He and Emma have worked together for 25 years, following his education in environmental studies and public health. He holds a Ph.D. in Health Policy Analysis from UIC, where he managed a training and research center before joining Kowalenko Consulting Group, Inc. in 1993, providing environmental planning and engineering services for private clients and government agencies at all levels. He has served on boards of professional, community service, and non-profit organizations for many years. He loves living in Highwood, where he and Emma moved from Highland Park in 2014. He and Emma have traveled throughout their 40 + years of marriage and continue to do so. He enjoys bicycling with the Chicago Kibitzers (yes!). He takes pleasure in sharing his life experiences with friends and family. This year he and Emma took part in the University of Iowa Writing Festival. This and Emma’s storytelling have inspired him to share the unique experiences that all of us have in our minds.
Marc Davis is a former newspaper reporter and the author of three highly-acclaimed novels: Spector, Dirty Money, and Bottom Line.
Craig Davishoff grew up in Skokie, and now lives in Deerfield. He is a physician, specifically an interventional radiologist, practicing in Waukegan for the past 16 years. He is looking to expand his creative side through his involvement with Short Story Theatre.Al Day has performed in clubs and colleges throughout the United States and on such radio and TV shows as WFMT's "Midnight Special," WFMT's "Studs Terkel Show," WBEZ's "The Earth Club," and WTTW/Channel 11's "Sound Stage." Hailed as most "Most Promising Songwriter" by Chicago Magazine when he entered the music scene, his songs have supplied many other artists with original material. Additionally, Al has composed several concert theater pieces and wrote the libretto for the opera Two Soldiers, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Eileen Donohue studied with Nancy Beckett at the Lakeside Writing Studio for seven years, where she completed a first draft memoir about her family and her mother’s terminal illness. “Now,” she says, “it’s on to the endless revisions.” In the meantime, she also enjoys writing personal essays. She lives in Evanston with her husband, Gene, and their two children.
Jennifer Dotson earned her MFA in drama from the University of Virginia and followed the siren song of Chicago's vibrant storefront theater scene shortly after. Since then she has focused her creative energy into poetry. Her second book of poetry, Late Night Talk Show Fantasy & Other Poems, was published in 2020 by Kelsay Books. She is the founder and program coordinator for Highland Park Poetry, now celebrating its 13th year.
David Edler has an MFA from the Professional Actor Training Program at Ohio University. He has worked at the Milwaukee Rep and the Hyde Park (NY) Shakespeare Festival. David has acted in off-loop productions of As You Like It, Working, The Fantasticks, and The 1940's Radio Hour, and has directed Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris and Larry Shue's one-act Grandma Duck is Dead. David comes from a family of educators (his father was a high school drama teacher), yet has found his career as a Business Development Director in the vision care industry.
Michael Ellman is a retired University of Chicago rheumatologist and writer making his debut with Short Story Theatre. He is a lifelong Chicago area resident: Delano, Hibbard, Von Steuben, and the University of Illinois. HIs collection of published short stories, Let Me Tell You About Angela, was an Eric Hoffer Award Finalist. He is also the author of a novel: Code-One Dancing. He lives with his wife Penny in Wilmette.
Michele Feinberg, aka Mitchie, is new to the storytelling world, for about five years now. Who knew that journaling during one of life’s difficult transitions would lead to an untapped wealth of stories and essays just waiting to be written? Michele writes about personal things both big and small, silly and serious, and tries to tap into a sense of humor that she didn’t know she had. She blames working over 30 years in corporate America for dulling that sense! She’s hoping that one day she’ll publish her stories...her life in pieces...as a gift to her daughters and grandchildren to remind them that this Nana isn’t some old granny sitting in a rocking chair and knitting. But she does confess to knitting!
Arthur M. Feldman is a professional appraiser (fine and decorative art) and museum consultant with degrees in art history and archaeology. He has held positions as Curator/Director at several museums: Victoria and Albert, London; Smithsonian Institution, DC; Spertus, Chicago, and the Miller, Tulsa, OK. A second-generation Philadelphia antique dealer, he has been a Highland Park merchant for nearly 25 years and has lectured, taught and been a guest on several TV shows.
Robin Finesmith, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, has spent much of her career in public radio. Her arts features and environmental reports have been heard frequently on NPR, and her work has won honors form the Voice of America and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. She also teaches creative writing and serves as a freelance writer for educational testing companies.
Barry Freydberg honed his storytelling chairside, while his dental patients couldn’t respond. As an international lecturer on several dental subjects, he tells stories in the midst of his teaching to a captive audience; however this time, people can and do respond. Also, a serial joke teller (only good ones), he's stepping out of the safety of his profession to talk about some of his life experiences. Married with 6 kids, a bunch of grandkids, Barry's a late starter in many of life’s activities. His senior hobbies include starting skiing at 45, golf at 58, pickle ball at 70, piano at 73. Always the traveler and photographer, he is finding way too much to do while still practicing and teaching a little more than part time.
Beverly Friend, PHD, Emeritus Professor of English and Journalism at Oakton Community College, Des Plaines, IL, also served as adviser to the student newspaper. Friend is the author of Science Fiction, the Classroom in Orbit and The Science Fiction Fan Cult (Doctoral Dissertation, Northwestern University,1975). Formerly a theater reviewer for Pioneer Press, she is currently a reviewer for www.ChicagoOnline.com and a member of the American Theater Critic’s Association. Friend is co-author (with Professor Xu Xin) of Legends of the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng. She wrote book reviews and was a Science Fiction Columnist for the Chicago Daily News and is a free-lance writer, lecturer, and scholar. She is a regular contributor to Engage (the publication of the North Shore Senior Center), The Insider, the Township Citizen, and the Sun Sentinel, in Florida. She is active in several writer’s groups and has self-published an autobiography, No Girls in the Marching Band (2007) and several books of essays including The Girl Who Takes Diagonals (2019) and Banished to Paradise. In addition, she is Executive Director of the China/Judaic Studies Assn., a Board Member of the Sino Judaic Institute and an Honorary Director of the Glazer Institute for Judaic and Israeli Studies at Nanjing University. She is also an artist and a percussionist with the North Shore New Horizons Band and most recently with the virtual Congaree New Horizons Band of the Music School of the University of South Carolina.
Mary Lou Gilliam was an English teacher for three decades and used both music and drama to engage her students. In addition to performing in musical comedies and singing in the church choir, she has been a wedding soloist for many years. Her writing credits include nationally distributed educational materials, user guides, and magazine articles. Retired in theory only, she continues the educational journey in an extensive private tutoring practice. When she is not writing or tutoring, find her engaged in international travel—the source of endless story material.
Larry Glazer has always found a way to work in entertaining jobs that amuse him and inspire creativity. As a teenager he sold peanuts and cokes at White Sox baseball games, allowing him to make money while watching his favorite team. He bagged groceries at a large neighborhood grocery store, which enabled him to meet girls who shopped with their mothers. In college, Larry was a disc jockey and newscaster at several radio stations. He made a career selling broadcast advertising for over 200 U.S. Radio and TV stations, including Anchorage, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Fargo! Retired, Larry now works at a golf course part-time and golfs part-time, and he's been volunteer tutoring inner city 3rd graders once a week. Some of his creative writings have been published in 2 national magazines, the Skokie Northlight Theatre magazine and on The White Sox scoreboard. Larry won $10,000 AND HIS WIFE for something he wrote for Marshall Field's State Street store window.
Fred Gold moved to Buffalo Grove from Ohio about 13 years ago with his wife June. They have two daughters and four grandchildren. Fred worked for an international manufacturer for 37 years holding various positions such as National Training Manager, Product Manager and Director of National Accounts. Fred’s duties required that he travel extensively throughout the country on a regular basis, so he has many stories to tell regarding his traveling experiences. When Fred retired, he became involved with several volunteer opportunities in the area. He currently works in the green house at the Chicago Botanic Garden and is a member of several camera clubs where he has won awards for his images. Several galleries have regularly exhibited his work, which focuses on street photography and emphasizes people living in various parts of the world. Fred is also a dedicated runner and enjoys participating in area races.
Beth Goldberg has worked with Theatre in the Woods, Oil Lamp Theater, North Shore Theater of Wilmette, and Deerfield Family Theater playing various roles, in various productions, and has thoroughly enjoyed pursuing the "acting bug" she's always had.
Lou Greenwald, a husband, brother, father and grandfather, has attended numerous storytelling festivals and enjoys telling and listening to stories by people from all walks of life. He has won first place at a "Moth" event and has told stories at “Soul Stories” in Evanston and at Story Lab, “Filet of Solo” and “Is This a Thing” in Chicago. He also promotes stories at Homewood Coffee in Glencoe and Curt’s Café in Highland Park. Lou: "Stories surround unforgettable moments in one's life."
Susie Greenwald was an English teacher and Future ProblemSolving coach for three decades. She
believes storytelling greatly enhances a sense of community in the classroom and encourages students to
research their own family stories as well.
Benita Haberman has been with Short Story Theatre since our premiere performance. She began journaling in grammar school and put her joy of writing to good use during a ten-year career in Special Events fundraising before "retiring" to be a stay-at-home mom. She began writing creative non-fiction while studying with Nancy Beckett at the Lakeside Writing Studio, and later re-entered the work force as a Special Education Student Aide. Benita lives in Vernon Hills with her husband, Marc, and her two teen-age children.
Julie Isaacson lives in Highland Park and has retired from its school system as a Special Education and Early Literacy teacher. She currently teaches kids of all ages in her home and is passionate about teaching writing to adolescents. Julie has been published in East on Central, Highland Park Poetry, and Voices and Visions of Sister Cities. She has combined her love of cooking and writing into two books, The Angry Chef: Satisfying Recipes Inspired by Unsatisfying Relationships. This anthology launched her own satisfying relationship with Short Story Theatre, a venue she thoroughly enjoys as her storytelling family. Julie has a new dog named Ziva, who listens to all her stories.
Judith MK Kaufman is the Editor-in-Chief of East on Central, founded in 2001. Judith’s poetry has been published in literary journals, including Poetica and The Journal of Modern Poetry. “Caught Laughing: the Esther and Bernie Story” is a collection of flash memoir, stories which Judith has been telling throughout her life about growing up the daughter of two warm, wonderful – and inadvertently funny New Yorkers. She intends to publish her memoir soon.
Denise Kirshenbaum learned to write as a member of Nancy Beckett's Lakeside Writing Studio. A one-on-one writing coach herself, Denise blends her writing experience with visual and production skills honed during a 20-year photography career to help clients of all levels achieve their writing goals. Her essays have appeared in literary journals, on the web, and in national magazines, including More and Bark.
Emma Alexandra Kowalenko founded Kowalenko Consulting Group (KCG) in 1988. At KCG located in Highland Park, Illinois, she is strategist, environmental planner, and change management implementer. Of eastern European heritage, born in Casablanca, Morocco, Ms. Kowalenko at the age of 11 emigrated to the U.S. with her parents. Fluent in six languages, small business advocate, oral historian, poet, and mixed media visual artist, she is passionate about giving visibility and voice to the unseen and the unheard. She believes that storytelling represents the human lifeline to the past and the future. Currently serving as an emeritus board member, she is one of the founders of East on Central Journal of Arts and Letters, currently in its 18th year of publication, based in Highland Park, Illinois and an active member of the Sister Cities Foundation of Highland Park. Emma promotes cultural and educational exchanges with Sister Cities Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Modena, Italy, and Jerucham, Israel. Other active civic and nonprofit involvement includes the Highland Park and Highwood Historical Societies, the Modenese Mutual Aid Society, and the Highwood Bocce Club.
Rick Leslie is a co-founder of Short Story Theatre, and has been telling stories for more than 40 years, from composing songs and writing ads to producing network news and making TV documentaries. In his travels he has shared Thanksgiving with the Navajos, ridden with the Canadian Mounties and been exposed to Cosmic Dust at NASA. His creative non-fiction has appeared in various literary magazines, including the Connecticut Review and Confluence. Presently, Rick has just completed writing a book of his colorful memoirs. We hope he’ll be sharing some of these with us during the coming months.
Ron Levitsky is a retired educator who currently serves as a trustee for West Deerfield Township and the Lake Forest Library. He also hosts a public access TV program in Highland Park. Ron has published several mystery novels and short stories. His story "Rimbaud" appears in the latest edition of East on Central, Highland Park's journal of arts and letters.
Peggy Lewis is a graduate of Northwestern with a major in Theatre Education. After graduation she worked in television production in NYC. In the early 80’s, she started a children’s theatre program at the Buffalo Grove Park District. After moving to Deerfield more than 40 years ago, Peggy worked in residential real estate and corporate relocation. Happily retired, and the grandmother of 6, her days are filled with books, theatre, travel, film and attending kids’ baseball and basketball games!
Rino Liberatore began a career in advertising in 1982. He received local and national acclaim for his creativity for such clients as Chevrolet, the Chicago Cubs, Loop Radio, the Illinois Lottery, and WGN-TV. Rino formed his own film production company in Chicago in 1995 and directed numerous projects with the most celebrated athletes of our time including Michael Jordan and the 1985 Super Bowl Chicago Bears, Harry Caray and many others. Rino has produced short films and co-directed an Independent Feature titled “The Opera Lover.” The film aired on Showtime. A Chicago native, Rino recently produced a feature-length documentary “Iron Five” chronicling the 1963 Loyola Rambler College Basketball Team. It premiered in the Black Harvest Film Festival and is scheduled to air on WGN-TV in February and again in March.
Rich Logan has been performing musically since vinyl was still popular. He has done sound design for theatre as well as live performance for improv and staged readings. He managed a theatre space called the School Street Cafe for 8 years in Chicago in the 90's, providing essentially free space for over 100 productions. He has graced many a Chicago stage over the years as an actor (Trap Door, Oracle, Famous Door, Victory Gardens, and Touchstone). He is excited to be invited to share "the sound track" to the stories that inspired them.
Mike Lubow is a former creative director of a national ad agency and founder of a Chicago ad agency. He wrote the weekly column "Got a Minute" for The Chicago Tribune and currently writes the "North Shorts" column for North Shore Weekend. His short stories have appeared in magazines here and abroad. His Tribune columns are collected in the book In a Chicago Minute, and ten of his published fiction pieces are in the book Paper and Ink. He’s also published a book of nature writings, Wild Notes. And an informal memoir, Time Pieces. These books are sold through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and bookstores.
Judy Markey spent twenty years co-hosting WGN Radio's "Kathy and Judy Show," and she's back on the air on Saturdays! The show won both state and national awards. She has published two novels and two collections of her nationally syndicated Sun-Times columns. She is a born talker, a born writer, and a born lover of storytelling, but...she's still scared of screwing up. Judy recently won one of NPR's "THE MOTH'S" Story Slams.
Bob Meyers blames his friend Michael for getting him interested in writing personal observations about the human condition, and now he can't stop! He writes his memories in interesting story form for his children and grandchildren, and hopes that over time they’ll add their own stories, creating a family chronicle. Hopefully, this chronicle will be read and reread by future generations. Bob: "It's wanting to know, that makes us human."
Sarita Miller was involved in a variety of aspects of community theatre for many years. She performed in a number of plays including California Suite, The Diary of Anne Frank, Talking With, Fiddler on the Roof, and Peter Pan. She started an after-school drama class when her own children were in elementary school, and she directed several plays in the middle school where she currently teaches 7th grade language arts and where she is known as the “storytelling lady.”
Terry Moritz is a lawyer with more than 50 years of experience. In 1980 he left a white shoes law firm as a young partner and with several colleagues formed and built a significant law firm in Chicago. Terry is consistently recognized as one of Illinois’ best business litigators. For the last 10 years Terry has spent an increasing portion of his time functioning as an arbitrator and mediator engaged in resolving commercial disputes. Terry is active in a variety of charitable and legal organizations and he teaches alternative dispute resolution at Loyola University’s School of Law. Terry was an avid skier for over 40 years until one of his misadventures crushed a knee and ended that career. He continues to be an avid cyclist but notes that his rides are getting shorter and the post-ride coffee time is getting longer. Terry and his wife Carol have been residents of Highland Park for 47 years.
Jim O'Connor, along with his wife Lynda, founded O'Connor Communications, Inc., in 1989. The firm specializes in promoting authors and their books and has won three national awards for the Best Book Publicity Campaign of the year. Jim is the author of CUSS CONTROL, The Complete Book on how to Curb Your Cursing.
Susie Perkowitz is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago with degrees in Communications and Theatre. Most recently she appeared in Improv Playhouse/GreenStick Theater Company’s production of A Christmas Carol. Currently she narrates Cozy Corner Podcast, a guided relaxation and bedtime story for children, but in a previous life she worked for Clear Channel Communications Chicago. Susie enjoys singing, writing, painting, guitar and doing improv. She is also a Toastmaster and an outdoor enthusiast on a mission to visit all of our national parks.
John Petlicki used to be a techy but, since retiring from AT&T and his teaching career at DePaul University, he has been focusing on standup comedy. John performs throughout Chicago and the suburbs, as well as in Wisconsin, sharing his humorous take on aging. He was a finalist in the Clean Comedy Challenge in Aurora in 2018 and also at the Clean Comedy Challenge in Nashville in 2019. John won a competition against 19 other standup comics at the Brauer House in Lombard in December. He will compete against the winners of the seven other weeks in the competition for a chance to be the opening act for a nationally-known comic. John is also an avid gardener who earned the title of Master Gardener from the University of Illinois Extension Program. His main job, however, is keeping his wife Myrna amused.
Myrna Petlicki is an arts writer for the Chicago Tribune's Pioneer Press and Doings suburban newspaper chains. She is also a lyricist whose musical "Black, White and Gray" was produced at Theatre Building Chicago. Her ten-minute musical "Ribbet!" won the Skokie Theatre Short Play Festival Audience Favorite Award. Myrna is currently working on two full-length musicals, "Animal Acts" and "Guilt, the Musical." She is a fitness enthusiast who currently takes four virtual exercise classes and two virtual yoga sessions each week. Myrna has been married to standup comic and storyteller John Petlicki for 48 years.Jonathan Plotkin is a nationally published editorial cartoonist and illustrator whose art can be found on the pages of the Chicago Tribune and other national and regional publications. In 2015 Jonathan received the Highland Park Mayor’s Award for the Arts. Jonathan's memoirs entitled “Yellow Jacket Blue,” consist of various hitchhiking and other travel encounters he experienced across the United States, Europe and beyond. Jonathan lives with his wife and best buddy Robin a mile from where they met on the same street as 3 year olds in the fall of 1957. They are proud parents of 4 exceptional children….all of them artists in their own right!
Anne Purky attended the MFA program in Writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has performed at Louder Than a Mom, Tellin’ Tales Theatre, Filet of Solo, Live Bait Theatre, and many more. Her blog, “The Gilded Forest,” was launched in 2015.
Joel Ramsey has been a speech and communications instructor for over 5 years. He has been onstage and performing throughout his life as a speaker, instructor, actor, murder mystery dinner performer, stand-up comedian and improvisational comedian. Joel currently resides in Northern Illinois with his children and teaches speech, communications, English and marketing both in online and onsite university classrooms.
Janet Reed earned a bachelor’s degree in music education for the love of it and a J.D. to earn a living. Featured in dozens of area musical and theatrical productions, she also directs youth musical productions and tours area schools and senior facilities with her one-woman themed musical programs.
Marjorie Rissman grew up on Long Island surrounded by duck and potato farms but made her escape at 14 when she went to boarding school, then college, then graduate school. After her sister passed away several years ago, Marjorie found solace in writing poetry. More recently she has begun to write memoirs under the wings of Jennifer Dotson. When she is not writing, Marjorie sells residential real estate and enjoys solving jigsaw puzzles. She has two sons and four wonderful grandchildren. She serves as treasurer of East on Central Association, which publishes a journal of art and literature from local authors.
Bob Rubin worked as a buyer for Montgomery Ward, was marketing director in the musical instrument field and then ended up in his own import/marketing business for 25 years. Since then Bob has been a commercial real estate broker for Berkshire Hathaway and participates in competitive senior tennis. He insists that it isn't too late to fulfill his secret dream of becoming a Hollywood screenplay writer.
Steve Sadin is a freelance journalist writing primarily for Pioneer Press where he covers events ranging from municipal meetings to youngsters doing productive things at school to farmers markets to elections to sports to political events and more. He enjoys the wide range of folks he meets and variety of stories he gets to write. He started out in Skokie, moved to Highland Park in fifth grade, spent 10 years in California after college and returned to Highland Park where he still lives now. He gets a thrill out of finding a unique story in a situation which begins as bland. "Dig deep enough and one is there."
Martie Sanders is a Chicago actress and writer /performer with the Sweat Girls. Sanders’ solo show “The Me, Mom & Dad Show!” played in Goodman Theatre’s Women Taking the Stage Festival. Her favorite acting roles have included: Mae West in Dirty Blonde (Madison Repertory); Lina LaMont in Singin’ In The Rain (Theatre at the Center); Janis Joplin in Love, Janis (Royal George); Jenny Diver in The Three Penny Opera (ATC); Hero in Much Ado About Nothing (Chicago Shakespeare). Martie founded Green Scene Chicago and brings performing arts education into school and urban gardens: www.greenscenechicago.org.
Holly Schaefer acted many years ago in off-Loop and dinner theater productions. Her most recent role was that of M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias with Theatre in the Woods. Holly entered the field of education late in life after earning a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University and two years later her Master’s degree from the same university. She has been involved in the field of special education for over 30 years. Holly founded Safe Haven School in Lake Bluff, a private therapeutic day school for students with debilitating anxiety, depression and other emotional disabilities, 11 years ago and has served as Executive Director since its inception.
Jim Scott has been a lover of theatre, music, and the pursuit of humor since his school days. He has partially satisfied these passions by playing his guitar, singing in various choirs, performing in theatre productions (most recently Sabrina Fair and Squabbles) and attempting to entertain anyone within earshot.
Kristen Scott enjoyed many Short Story Theatre performances as an audience member before joining us on stage. She is a parent of two adult children, and has served as Town Clerk for West Deerfield Township since 2011. Her writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Parent, Pioneer Press, TheMighty.com, and two book anthologies. Kristen founded and led a support group for parents of children with disabilities for seven years, focusing on the emotional impact of raising extraordinary children, and has spoken on autism to various groups. She blogs at Good Marching: Experiences in Autism and the Rest of Life.
Madelyn Sergel is a playwright, freelance writer, and producer. Productions include The Party in the Kitchen and Special Needs (Clockwise Theatre), Another Piece of Cake (Citadel Theatre). Her award-winning YA play Totally Okay, Right Now is published by YouthPLAYS, and her plays have had public readings at American Theatre Company, Citadel Theatre, Gift Theatre, Clockwise Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, and Gurnee Theatre Company. The founding Artistic Director of Clockwise Theatre, she also co-produced the company’s first 13 productions. Recent and upcoming projects include the reading of her play Throwing Rice at Chicago Dramatists Saturday Series and the reading of her one-act comedy Dogs Are People Too at Clockwise Theatre in April.
Frank Shapiro was born in New York City, grew up on Long Island and moved to the Chicago area more than half his life ago. Frank has had his life turned upside down a number of times including one time on a mountain bike (literally) while descending in Kettle Moraine and recently in his current job when it was announced eight days after he started that the company had been acquired. Luckily he survived both events and is currently a Tier 3 Support Agent at Salesforce. Frank enjoys telling stories, riding bicycles, making bad puns and good food.
Bonnie Hillman Shay had a life-changing experience in July, 2019. She feels the experience is a gift that keeps on giving as she has tweaked her life personally and professionally and treasures what each day brings. Professionally, Bonnie is a Photo Organizer, who works on clients’ photo and video collections. As Short Story Theatre demonstrates, life is all about stories. Bonnie is honored to help a client with their photographic story and makes sure a family’s photos and videos are manageable, enjoyable, shareable, safe and secure for now and generations to come. Since parents pass their photo collections on to their kids and grandkids, Bonnie considers the results of her work to be priceless. When Bonnie isn’t curating family photo collections, she enjoys bicycling, walking her dog, cooking, and doing crossword puzzles.
Anne Shimojima, a retired school library media specialist, has told stories for 30+ years at festivals, schools, libraries, conferences, and museums. Some past venues include: Teller-in-Residence at the International Storytelling Center, the National Storytelling Festival, Illinois Storytelling Festival, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Storytelling Arts of Indiana. Anne also gives workshops on the use of storytelling in education and the creation of family history projects. Her family story about the Japanese-American incarceration camps in World War II is available at www.byuradio.org.
Tony Smith is a semi-retired accountant living in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. He has three adult sons and spends his time reading, volunteering, working around his house and yard, making furniture, maintaining a couple of small wooden boats, and writing essays. He grew up in Libertyville, Illinois. His father was a journalist and his mother a librarian. He has four brothers and four sisters. He reads his stories on a regular basis at an open mic setting called “Writers’ Night” in Sturgeon Bay.Kirk Steinhaus has been an employee of Catholic Charities since 1994. He worked his way through college and is a graduate of DePaul University. He worked at the Chicago Sun-Times for several years, joined the Sun-Times Speaker’s Bureau and became a designated speaker for DePaul. He spoke to students at the elementary, high school and college levels about the newspaper business. He then worked with his wife in her public relations business as a photographer, writer, and proofreader. He was founder and president of C.A.P.S. Beat 2411, Inc., and was the Beat Rep for beat 2411 in the CAPS program for the Chicago Police Department for 4 years. He also studied Mediation at Northwestern University, and was trained by Archdiocesan mediators. Kirk studied music for many years and learned to play piano, trumpet, tuba, some violin, and studied voice for opera. He is also a serious student of the sinking of the Titanic and World War II. Kirk lives with his wife and two children in Wilmette.
Paul Teodo is a retired healthcare executive. He has been telling stories on stages in and around Chicago the past 13 years. He is a multiple Moth Story Slam and Grand Slam Winner, has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning. He is also the co-author of 3 books. PASTAMAN and Call Me Z, both novels, and a book of short stories, South of Cermak, Chicago Stories. All available on Amazon.Susan Thompson is a Chief Human Resources Officer and Certified Mediator. In her spare time, she is a Wilmette mom of two teenage boys. Susan’s stories explore modern family dynamics and can be found on her website www.susanveronica.com. Her boys have requested she use this pen name to protect the guilty and their reputations on the North Shore.
Elizabeth Ury has worked in the senior services industry for many years after a career in the hospitality industry. Working with families of different generations has given her insight into the complexities of relationships, and that it always comes back to love. The theme through her life seems to be bringing people together through music, movement, art, and storytelling. Some of her projects include creating a flash mob, a dance aerobics program for over 60 somethings, clowning at life-care communities, drum circles with storytelling, and an art show with original pieces created by a group of memory-impaired residents. She is proud of her two adult children and enjoys being surrounded by family and friends. As an empty nester, she enjoys more time creating and learning and spending time with her husband Ira.
Avinash (Avi) Vaidya is Executive Vice President of Product Development and Chief Technology Officer at Shure Incorporated, the world's leading manufacturer of microphones and audio electronics. He holds nine U.S. patents, has published numerous technical papers, and has received several awards for technical excellence. Dr. Vaidya has a Master’s in Engineering Electronics from the Netherlands Universities Foundation, a Master’s in Computer Science, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Avi loves to travel on business and for pleasure and has traveled to more than 60 countries including Israel, Finland, China Japan, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka to name a few.Nutan Vaidya, as a lifelong academician and administrator, has spent a considerable amount of time recognizing and cultivating talents of resident and faculty members and helping enhance their teaching and academic skills. A distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, she is certified in the subspecialty of Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatric education. Dr. Vaidya is the co-author of two textbooks: Descriptive Psychopathology and Psychiatry Rounds and has authored several peer-reviewed articles.
Vargas’ short story collection is being published by Curbside
Splendor Publishing in Spring 2015. She was named one of Guild’s Literary
Complex’s 25 Writers to Watch, won the 2013 Guild Literary Complex Award in
Fiction, and has received two top citations in Glimmer Train’s Short Story
Award for New Writers contests. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing-Fiction
from Columbia College Chicago. Her work has appeared in Word Riot, Split Lip
Magazine, Hypertext Magazine, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing
workshops around Chicago and online.
Karol Verson has had many incarnations and transformations from children’s theater performer, to manager of Older Adult Programs at the College of DuPage and the Jewish Community Centers in Chicago and Skokie, to director, teacher and special lecturer at Oakton Community College. She directed a touring company of older adults called Acting Up! for 8 years as well as several touring companies of students and many plays for the OCC theater department, including some performance pieces which she created. She is currently working on 2 writing projects: her own lifetime journey of poems, family recollections and ruminations on life, and compiling the writings of many older adults who have been in her writing workshops. Karol is also re-starting a video service called LEGACY of LIFE to capture the life stories of older adults for their children and grandchildren. She has four daughters and 8 grandchildren and lives in a very old family manse in Niles with many works of art collected from her travels to achieve enlightenment. “Life can only be understood backwards, but has to be lived forwards.”
Lorrie Weinberg was a lab technician, a meeting and event planner, and an administrative assistant. Toward the end of her work life she referred to herself as downwardly mobile as she took jobs with less and less responsibility! She was a mom, a grandmother, and included her “granddogs” in her family. She played a lot of Canasta, exercised, read, napped, and loved life, her family, and all her friends. Lorrie was in the audience of Short Story Theatre one night when Donna pointed her finger out toward the audience and said, “Maybe you have a story.”
Scott Woldman has performed as an actor, performance poet, storyteller and comedian for over 15 years in venues across the United States. He was a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists (most recent play: Beautiful Autistic), Redtwist Theatre, and the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. Scott’s drama Beatenwas produced at The Artistic Home and several of his late-night comedies – including Dates From Hell, Drunk and Ready, and Men Exposed– were produced at Redtwist Theatre as part of their Luv Cycle.
Christine Wolf is a memoir coach and founder of Writers’ Haven Evanston, a cozy, inspired workspace for women. While raising her kids in Evanston, Christine earned a Master’s degree in teaching, then launched her professional writing career from her kitchen table. Focused on navigating life’s challenges, her writing has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, Runner’s World, Medium's Better Humans & Invisible Illness, and many other publications. Last year, she launched a free newsletter on Substack, Writers’ Haven by Christine Wolf. She’s performed live with Mortified Chicago, Louder Than A Mom, and at The Moth — where she was named StorySLAM champion in June 2022. Christine is hard at work on her own memoir about sisterhood lost and found, and she’ll travel this spring to facilitate and host a series of workshops and retreats about writing to heal. www.christinewolf.com
Judy Yacker recently retired after a long career as a speech-language pathologist and, previously, a high school English teacher. She has spent the past year learning Spanish, taking (and facilitating!) writing workshops, doing Pilates, playing pickleball, and traveling; in short, doing all the things she didn't have time for when she was working. She lives in Highland Park with her husband Scott, and her dog Kiwi; her grown-up sons, Colin and Bryan, having flown the coop. She is honored and humbled to have an opportunity to tell her story with such talented storytellers.
Sarah Zematis is a performer, writer, director & producer. She is a company member with 2nd Story and was also in the Chicago cast of "Listen to your Mother," a nationwide storytelling event, giving Motherhood a microphone. She has worked throughout Chicago with companies such as Porchlight, Emerald City & Strawdog. Some of her more interesting performance credits include being a maiden at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, singing with an Andrews Sisters trio at Green Dolphin Street, and giving voice to deaf actors at Centerlight Theatre. But, far and away, her favorite gig is being Mom to her Wee Three. Not only do they fill the days with fun – they make for some excellent story material!
Donna Lubow, Producer and Emcee, a co-founder of Short Story Theatre, has taught English literature and drama to all age groups, and has performed in, produced and directed numerous plays all on the North Shore of Chicago. She co-founded several theatres including Highland Park Players, Attic Playhouse in Highwood, Theatre in the Woods in Riverwoods, and ARTicuLIT Readers Theatre, a touring company.