The 2021 Fillet of Solo Festival

Due to popular demand we are extending the streaming end date for this year’s Fest one more week! The Fest MUST CLOSE March 7!  Celebrate Chicago’s enduring storytelling and live lit scene by virtually bringing 15 storytelling collectives and 17 solo performers together from all over the world in an online gallery of powerful, personal stories!

The 24th Annual Fillet of Solo Festival features solo performances by:

  • Rose Abdoo
  • Lily Be
  • Anu Bhatt
  • Beth Ann Bryant-Richards
  • Jimmy Carrane
  • Jimmy Doyle
  • Kevin Gladish
  • Bryan Kett
  • Kristina Lebedeva
  • Kurt Naebig
  • R.C. Riley
  • Connie Shirakawa
  • Mike Speller
  • Rich Tackenberg
  • Jameson Wentworth
  • Bernard White
  • Marcia Wilkie

Plus the work of the following storytelling collectives:

  • Back Room Stories
  • Is This a Thing?
  • OUTSpoken!
  • Pandemic Stories
  • Serving the Sentence
  • Stir-Friday Night!
  • Story Sessions
  • Sweat Girls
  • Tellin’ Tales Theatre
  • the kates
  • The Lifeline Storytelling Project
  • The Stoop
  • Universal Sound

– Single Tickets are Name Your Price (suggested donation of $20) and give you access to the Fest website for the full run (Feb. 8 – Mar. 7).
– Festival Passes are only $45 and give you full access; Plus LIVE virtual events including panel discussions and storytelling workshops with Festival artists. *Not available during final week.*

Click here for a current list of the 24th Annual Fillet of Solo LIVE EVENTS

Tickets/passes can also be purchased through our Box Office at 773-761-4477.

This year’s Fest will take place entirely online! Upon ticket/pass purchase, a confirmation will be sent with information on how to access the Fillet of Solo website that features the gallery of this year’s stories.

Got questions? We’ve got answers! Contact us by calling 773-761-4477 or emailing


Rose Abdoo
The Boxes
Written and performed by Rose Abdoo

The Boxes….Rose wants to do away with them and just have one big one.




Lily Be

What Are You, Lily Be?
Written and performed by Lily Be
Directed by Amy Eaton Xavier Jordan

A racially ambiguous woman faces micro aggressions from where she least expects it.



Back Room Stories
BACK ROOM STORIES features stories from across the storytelling spectrum.  Our shows were produced for several years at the Oak Park Brewing Company in Oak Park on the 3rd Sunday evening of every month.    Co-producers Margaret Burk, Peter LeGrand, and Megan Wells switched it up to BACK YARD STORIES this past summer and performed in Peter’s backyard.  We’re looking forward to returning to our live audience venues as soon as possible.  Featuring: Margaret Burk, Linda Gorham, Peter LeGrand, Gilo Kwesi Logan, Annalise Raziq, & Megan Wells.



Anu Bhatt

Written and performed by Anu Bhatt

AutoCorrect is a wry examination of microaggressions in the arts. Ansu, a South Asian-American actor, attempts to redefine the terms of her relationship with Laura, a well-intentioned but rather careless director. Over a ten-minute Zoom conversation, the two characters navigate unconscious bias, its subtlety, and how it can deeply affect one’s identity, confidence and sense of belonging.



Beth Ann Bryant-Richards
True Confessions of a Failed Debutante

Written and performed by Beth Ann Bryant-Richards
Directed by Nina Davit

What’s a debutante? Better yet, what’s a Sub Deb? Learn more about arcane social rules and aspiring to a life as an artist. What could possibly go wrong when a woman learns about sex from reading romance novels?  Excerpt from a full-length show in development.




Jimmy Carrane
World’s Greatest Dad (?)
Written and performed by Jimmy Carrane
Script and creative consultant: Gary Rudoren
Directed by: Dave Maher
Photography by: Suzanne Plunkett

After 10 years in group 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.

Jimmy Doyle
Borderline Adjacent
Written and performed by Jimmy Doyle

Jimmy is working on a memoir, “Must Be Nice,” inspired by his solo performances. “Borderline Adjacent” is a preview of his work in progress, which explores his life as a dual citizen in Ireland, working in the mental health field, and being “show biz adjacent.”





Kevin Gladish
A Secret in Plain Sight
Written and performed by Kevin Gladish

What do you do when you discover a long-held family secret that completely alters who you thought you were? Kevin Gladish takes you on a journey into the past as he discovers his real identity and grapples with what is true, what is false, and how much any of us can ever know.






A storytelling variety show hosted by Archy Arch J

Stories take all forms and Archy has gathered some of his favorite performers.  Featuring: Patty Ames, Archy Arch J, Elizabeth Gomez, Cheryl Rodey, & Sara Marie Young



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 in a welcoming and nurturing space and place. Since 2014, our theme-inspired show happens on the second Monday of the month, in the warm surroundings of O’Shaughnessy’s Public House (4557 N Ravenswood). This virtual Fillet of Solo show features performances by Jake Cowan, Niko Mendoza, Carissa Letz, Suzy Kahn Weinberg, & Dr. Moore. Is this a thing? Yes. Yes it is.


Bryan Kett
Valentine’s Day
Written and performed by Bryan Kett

A chance encounter on Valentine’s Day offers a new perspective.







Kristina Lebedeva
Salt and Splendor
Written and performed by Kristina Lebedeva

What dwells in the tension between the salt and the splendor? What do the delirious riddles of the song-stitching oracle and the executioner’s song have in common? 

You are invited to a visceral, feverishly wild tale of a young woman who finds herself trapped within her own flesh, a stranger who fails to welcome her, as she’s struck by a mysterious, forever senseless illness.  I dare you to enter the gates of the brilliance of the sky and the mind’s death rattle.  A second lasted an hour, a minute lasted a day, and a day lasted the expanse between the cradle and the grave. She learned that there’s a blood and a shining to all clocks.

Kurt Naebig
Stove Toucher
Written and performed by Kurt Naebig

What happens when you achieve the high-rolling lifestyle you always dreamed of…at thirteen years old? An extraordinary and funny coming-of-age story set during the 1970’s skateboard boom, about a semi-pro boarder who opens a successful business, gets interviewed by Charlie Rose, and falls into drugs: all before high school.  A little bit Doogie Howser, a little bit Basketball Diaries… Stove Toucher is a high adrenaline, hilarious, heartfelt recounting about getting everything you ever wanted – and then watching it fall apart.  Stove Toucher Trailer

OUTspoken! is comprised of storytellers who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer recalling true personal events. Stories are often funny, heartfelt, and sometimes historically significant. The audience will get a window into the lives of a variety of human experiences that will connect on an emotional level regardless of sexual identity.

Featuring: Archy Arch J, Nancy Burkholder, David Fink, Timmothy J Holt, & Michael King



Pandemic Stories

Hosted by Janki Mody, Pandemic Stories is a look into the lives of a few brave souls who are willing to let us take a peek into their pandemic experiences. This show will feature the following amazing artists: Cris Blak, Alex Michael Alexander, James Gordon, Kim Schultz, Katie Zaffran, and Janki Mody

Through Fillet of Solo, Janki Mody (JAHN-kee MO-thee, she/her/hers) has produced and performed her second solo show, This is All Fine, and hosted Hear me, See me, an evening of stories featuring medical survivors.

R.C. Riley
Amid Social Unrest I Found Love
Written and performed by R.C. Riley

This story is about a couple finding love in a seemingly unlikely time and place. COVID-19, civil unrest, and fear have nothing on L-O-V-E.






Serving the Sentence

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!

Featuring: Jax Barker, Lindsay Eanet, Kyna Lenhof, Kendra Stevens, & Tori Szekeres



Connie Shirakawa

The Homeless Ghost
Written & performed by Connie Shirakawa
Directed by Sharon Evans
Video by Barbara Bejna

We journey through life looking for all of the pieces that make up who we are.  HOMELESS GHOST is about the search to find the ghost that lives within us all.





Mike Speller
Flight Instructor
Written and performed by Mike Speller

Genetics aside, who set you on your path? Who is/was the wind beneath your wings? Was it a teacher, barista, or Bette Midler? Mike takes a look at a mentor who gave him the power to go solo.





Stir-Friday Night!

A 24-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. Stir-Friday Night! is a nonprofit theater company, specializing in sketch comedy and improvisation, and offers touring shows and workshops for schools, companies, and organizations.

Featuring: Elyse Ahmad, Erica Geiser, & Scott Hanada

Story Sessions
Produced and hosted by Jill Howe

Story Sessions is a monthly show in Edgewater featuring a collection of curated performers and open mics sharing true personal stories that will tug at your heart strings, tickle your funny bone and take your mind on a wild adventure. First Fridays at Sauce and Bread Kitchen also feature delicious fresh pizza and BYO. The show is an hour long without intermission, so there is plenty of time to hang out with fellow story lovers. The show is free and always will be.

Featuring: David Barish, John Hahm, Dr. Karen O’Donnell, Sheri Reda, & Debbi Welch

Sweat Girls

Sweat in the Time of Covid

With 28 years of shared history, the Sweat Girls represent the greying edge of Chicago’s Live Lit community. Known for their “contagious gusto” the Sweat Girls have been called “the undisputed tribal elders” of the solo performance scene (Chicago Reader, 2014).

Featuring: Caroline Andres, Cindy Hanson, Dorothy Milne, Clare Nolan, Martie Sanders, & Pamela Webster

Rich Tackenberg
Ron the Bun Man
Written and performed by Rich Tackenberg

Rich’s first day of a new job turns out very, very differently than he expected.







Tellin’ Tales Theatre
Liminal Spaces   

Four solo performers with and without disabilities explore their current liminal space. Featuring: Tamara Rozofsky, Robert Teverbaugh, Lindsay Porter, & Tekki Lomnicki.

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




the kates
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. Artists are encouraged to express their comic point of view in unique and non-apologetic ways – proving that women are equal in the eyes of comedy.

Hosted by Amy Sumpter and featuring: Soli Santos, Alexandra Tsarpalas, Eunice Jarret, Maggie Tomasek, & Kendra Stevens


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

Featuring: Katie Adams, Nona Flores, Georgia Knapp, Jay D. Lenn, Amanda Link, Betsey Manzoni, Sessy Nyman, Ligia Sandoval, & Manny Tamayo.



The Stoop
The Stoop is hosted by Moth GrandSLAM champion Lily Be. Featured storytellers are given a theme and each share a short story related to that theme. The Stoop is a platform to bring Chicagoans to a better understanding of each other and to inspire change. Performing regularly at Rosa’s Lounge in Humboldt Park, it is as much about community and survival as it is about entertainment.

Featuring: Lily Be, Jenny DeLessio Parson, Angela Oliver, Aditya Surenduran




Universal Sound
Hosted by Vincent Greco

Universal Sound is a storytelling event that is part curated and part open mic, designed for people to tell their stories their way. It is sponsored by Voice Power Chicago on the first Friday of every month at the Flat Iron Arts Building in Wicker Park.

Featuring: Vinny Greco, Maria Kostas, & Victoria Montalbano



Jameson Wentworth

[Out of] Context: Survival Mode
Written and performed by Jameson Wentworth

[Out of] Context immerses listeners with an evening of stories from my life, framed by the songs that actually accompanied them [Out of] Context: Survival Mode is a story of self reliance.



Bernard White
Written and performed by Bernard White

While binge watching THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR on Netflix with his wife in their Los Feliz apartment during the 9th month of the Pandemic, the 61 year old actor/storyteller encounters a visitation from his first California girlfriend.  She invites him into a reckoning with his past and an awakening to the present… with an assist from David Bowie.



Marcia Wilkie
One Inch
Written and performed by Marcia Wilkie

Marcia finds that our most significant mistakes, possibilities, revelations, and major advancements, happen incrementally, often by only an inch.






80 Minutes Around the World: Immigration Stories presents: “WINDOWS AND MIRRORS”, featuring 8 young storytellers who have all recently immigrated to the United States. This set of stories was filmed during the pandemic of 2020. Students from the International High School of Health Sciences (IHSHS) in Queens, NY worked remotely with Amy E. Witting, a teaching-artist from the Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble, to develop and perform their own personal stories. Over the course of 8 weeks, students examined story structure, engagement techniques, wrote, edited, rehearsed, and performed solo stories for their peers. This film highlights 8 of those stories set to an original score. IHSHS is a public high school with a focus on language acquisition for recent immigrants. The Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble has served as a trusted partner to IHSHS since 2016 infusing theatrical teaching techniques into the classroom to help students with communication skills and to enliven teacher practice. Featuring: Dipina Khatri Chhetri, Lojain Emam, Zahilly Herrera, Anneli Kongli, Stephanie Perez, Cristian Rocha, Joel Rodriguez, & Edison Torres

We’re thrilled to be able to take advantage of hosting the Fest in this virtual space to bring our Pass holders some incredible LIVE zoom events with storytellers from all over the country! Take a look below at the current events we have sprinkled throughout the Fest:

Did you miss a panel? Have no fear! We recorded the incredible discussions that have taken place over the Fest and will be sending those out to our Pass-holders soon!


Diving Into Scene with 2nd Story:  Join 2nd Story Artistic Director Amanda Delheimer and Company Member Julie Ganey for this skill building workshop focused on how to write scenes in personal narrative. Through a combination of full- and small-group work and plenty of interactive exercises, participants will hone their writing skills in 2nd Story’s signature scene-based style. Participants will leave with a draft of a scene, as well as tools and techniques for how to identify potential scenes in their stories, and how to flesh out those opportunities once discovered.  (Note: this is *not* scene writing as in plays or screenplays.)  *WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10TH, 7-9PM CST*



The Art of Vulnerability by Jill Howe of Story Sessions: There are few things that people fear more than revealing their vulnerabilities, yet vulnerability is the gateway to deeper connection and wholehearted living. Storytelling is most successful when storytellers can share the full truth of the most meaningful moments of their lives bravely with others. Learning how to do this skillfully can alter every aspect of a person’s life in profound and far-reaching ways. This workshop will combine vulnerability, storytelling, performance, and craft. Participants will learn about the art, science, and psychology of vulnerability as it relates to the art of storytelling. We will learn what elements good stories have and how to mine our lives for resonant tales and, finally, how to begin to strategize and craft them for the page, stage, or dinner table. Storytelling can be transformational on a soul level. Give your stories that chance to take root and flourish. *SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13 Noon-2PM CST* 

Jill Howe is the producer of Story Sessions, a live storytelling series founded in 2013. She teaches storytelling workshops for Newberry Library, serves as a resident storyteller at the Field Museum, and has presented a Tedx Talk focusing on vulnerability through storytelling. She is also an educational specialist with a master’s degree in teaching.


Story Neighborhood by Lily Be of The Stoop:  A short form version of Lily’s six-week workshop.  The class will work together on a theme and a prompt and create a world by connecting the class narratives.  Join the fun! *Saturday, February 20, 3-5pm CST*

Lily Be is a Moth StorySLAM and GrandSLAM champion and the host of The Stoop Storytelling Series, which performs at Rosa’s Lounge in Humboldt Park.  Lily nurtures the next generation of storytellers by teaching “Discovering Your Story” courses at Second City, the Hairpin Arts Center, and Northeastern Illinois University as well as leading an ongoing Stoop workshop for newbie storytellers.  She is also the co-host/producer of Story Collider Chicago and Game Developer for URLife.



Welcome to Fillet of Solo!  Join Ilesa Duncan (artistic director of Lifeline Theatre and executive/producing director of Pegasus Theatre Chicago), Sharon Evans (former artistic director of Live Bait Theater and founder of Fillet of Solo) and Dorothy Milne (Lifeline ensemble member and lead organizer of the current Festival) as they discuss the roots of Fillet of Solo, Chicago’s illustrious storytelling history and this year’s exciting offerings. Includes 15 minute Q&A.  *MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 7-8pm CST*




Lady Producers Unite! panel discussion moderated by Jill Howe of Story Sessions:  Female and female-identifying producers from around the country share their shows and expertise with those who’d like to produce themselves, or, as a performer, who would like to know more about what producers are looking for with an encouragement to use these virtual times to widen submission reach! Now is the best time to get your voice involved in the national and global movement that is live storytelling! Find your voice and an outlet for creative passions in Chicago, and beyond.  Featuring: Rachel Ann Harding (Denver, CO), Ally Karsyn (Sioux City, IO), Katie Knutson (Bloomington, MN), Lee Melchior (Chicago), Dr. Karen O’Donnell (Chicago), Alexus Rhone (Raleigh, NC), Allison Broeren (Minneapolis, MN), Tamale Sepp (Chicago), & Suzy Kahn Weinberg (Chicago).  *Saturday, February 20, Noon-1:30pm CST*



Panel discussion with FoS 2021 Los Angeles based tellers: Moderated by Dorothy Milne.  Featuring: Rose Abdoo, Jimmy Doyle, Bryan Kett, Rich Tackenberg, Bernard White, and Marcia Wilkie.  Join this incredible group of storytellers for a discussion on their storytelling and the L.A. storytelling scene. *Sunday, February 21st, 3-4pm CST*





Storytelling and producing as a member of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) community.  Encouraging new tellers to share, helping producers find tellers. How does storytelling impact a community?  How might producers become active in communities beyond featuring community members in a show?  Panelists include: Shannon Cason (Producer of Good Co Inc. and Homemade Stories), Nestor Gomez (Producer of 80 minutes Around the World), Gastor Almonte (Producer of Story Collider), Whitney Capps (Producer of Grown Folks Stories), & Archy Arch J (Producer of OUTspoken LGBTQ series). *Saturday, February 27, 1:00-2:15pm CST*



The Power of Story  Join Ilesa Duncan (Lifeline artistic director), Nestor Gomez (host and producer of 80 Minutes Around the World and this year presenting Windows and Mirrors)Tekki Lomnicki (artistic director of Tellin’ Tales Theatre), Dorothy Milne (Lifeline ensemble member and Fest organizer) and Janki Mody (host and producer of Pandemic Stories) as they discuss the power of story in creating community, amplifying voices and perspectives that need to be heard, and finding our shared humanity.  We will also celebrate the different creative approaches to this year’s virtual experiment and take questions and comments. Includes 15 minute Q&A. *Sunday, February 28, 3-4pm CST*


Live Bait Theater developed more than 200 world premieres over its 20-year history and was nominated for over 50 Non-Equity Jeff Awards, predominately in the category of New Work. Sharon Evans was the Artistic Director from 1987-2008, and in 1995 she created the Fillet of Solo Festival, which featured over 200 solo artists in its first 13 years.

In 2009, Live Bait closed its doors, but Evans’ enthusiasm for new work and for the Festival remained undiminished. When searching for a new producer of the Festival, it was important to her that it be a theater dedicated to new work and she was delighted to find a perfect fit with Lifeline Theatre. In 2010, Lifeline and Live Bait co-produced the 14th Annual festival, and Lifeline has been carrying on the tradition ever since.